Russell Martin - Norwich City are on to something special
Russell Martin believes the Canaries are “on to something special” after they landed the perfect psychological blow against Swansea City on Saturday.
Many supporters had filed the visit of Brendan Rodgers’ fellow-promoted side under the “must win” category if they are to stay in the Premier League and Norwich duly delivered.
Martin, whose 10th- minute header helped his side go on to secure a 3-1 win, thinks the victory will give him and his team-mates a big confidence boost as operation top-flight survival gets into full swing.
“I think you can see from the way we are playing the belief is there,” he said. “Even the lads that are sitting on the bench are coming on and doing a job – they are all champing at the bit to play.
“When you’ve got wingers tracking back 70 yards and making tackles I think you know you are on to something special.
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“What’s got us here over the last two years is the lads working hard for each other. I think we’ve got that at the minute as well as the confidence to express ourselves in the right areas.
“We know Swansea are going to be in and amongst where we are going to be as well and I think we owed them one after last season at their place. We certainly enjoyed the win – it shows how far we have come and the improvement that we have made.”
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Anthony Pilkington was the star of the show with the former Huddersfield man helping himself to a double to banish the memory of that miss against Manchester United.
Paul Lambert’s transfer policy is once again bearing fruit with Elliott Bennett also impressing down the right flank and Martin believes that the Canaries are growing with every game.
“Pilks is an exciting player and Benno as well,” he said. “Both of them did brilliantly and people spoke about Pilks’ misses last week but he has popped up with two really important goals.
“We’ve got a group of characters that believe in themselves – that’s one of the things the gaffer looks for when he signs players – people who work hard and believe in their own ability. Hopefully we can all do that together because we are getting better as a team.
“We are getting better and better with every game at the minute. We got a defeat last week but it was against the champions of England. We put in a good performance and we have set ourselves a standard. If we carry on to that then hopefully we will be all right.”
Martin also singled out the performance of Steve Morison, whose tireless running never gave the Swansea back four a moment’s peace and created space for others to thrive.
“He was brilliant – he deserved a goal more than anyone. He has come back confident with Wales and he has got better and better. He wasn’t starting at the beginning of the season but the last few games he has been brilliant for us.
“He holds the ball up brilliantly and works the channels. The only thing missing was a goal.”
Martin’s goal was a mirror image of Ritchie De Laet’s header against Stoke and the former Peterborough man said it was nice to see hours of set-piece drills at Colney deliver on the biggest stage once again.
“We work on it in training,” added the 25-year-old, who ghosted in unnoticed to nod home David Fox’s excellent in-swinging free-kick.
“Set pieces are massive for anyone – Blackpool scored a lot from set pieces last year. Foxy’s delivery has been brilliant the last few games and thankfully we are reaping the rewards.”
Martin’s reinvention as a centre-half continued and he looks to have developed a promising understanding at the heart of the defence with Leon Barnett.
However, he knows that with Zak Whitbread, Elliott Ward and Daniel Ayala all not far away from making a comeback that he must stay on top of his game.
“I’m really enjoying it – hopefully I can stay there as long as possible. We’ve got Zak coming back now and Wardy will be back in a few weeks but it’s up to me to keep them out.
“I’m enjoying it and me and Barney are growing every game. We’re improving. I’ll keep learning so hopefully I can improve in that position.”