Shape up or ship out - players warned

Chris Lakey Glenn Roeder has challenged his players to use Tuesday's visit by Stoke City to prove they want to be part of his plans - or face being shipped out of Carrow Road.

Chris Lakey

Glenn Roeder has challenged his players to use Tuesday's visit by Stoke City to prove they want to be part of his plans - or face being shipped out of Carrow Road.

“These lads have been magnificent to lift the club from eight points in November,” said the City manager. “But that's in the history books now. It is all about the rest of the season, starting with the game against Stoke, and it's a game where I will see how much some of my players want a future at this club.

“I feel that strong about it. If they want a future at this club they will show me in their performance on Tuesday night, because they know I'm not messing about.

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“I think some of them have shown to me in the last couple of weeks that they're switching off and the season is far from finished. There are a lot of points to play for and they have to realise if they want a future at this football club they have got to do a lot better.”

Roeder has steered City on a survival route since arriving at the end of October, but has seen the resurgence come to a halt in the past six games, in which they have won only five points to lie 13th in the table.

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“I sort of didn't want to admit to it, but I would have expected a dip,” said Roeder. “Look at Crystal Palace; they lost one game at Leicester and then I think was seven games before they got a win again.”

Roeder had Coventry watched against QPR in midweek and chose to go like for like, with three central midfield men, two wide men and Dion Dublin on his own up front - a formation that changed to a more conventional 4-4-2 as he made two substitutions within the first half. Right back Juan Velasco went after just 21 minutes, with left back Mo Camara taken off six minutes later.

“I am never slow to make changes if it is not going the way I want it,” Roeder said. “Neither player was injured. I wanted to get a second striker on and that is what I did.

“We matched them up. I didn't want to play against Coventry outnumbered in midfield. They were very good against QPR the other night and were very unlucky not to be a couple of goals good at half-time and would have gone and won the game. So it was important that we matched them with three midfield players and hoped that with the width that we would have we got more crosses in. We didn't get enough crosses in and consequently Dion suffered because of that and it didn't allow Darel Russell or Matty Pattison to break forward into the box to join Dion.

“We didn't keep the ball. I don't think we made three passes consecutively in the whole of the first half and we have got to pick our levels of performance up again.”

Roeder saw Russell and Gary Doherty dismissed, but was clearly unhappy at referee Paul Taylor.

“I think referees, not all referees, this one in particular, show a lack of common sense,” he complained. “They are much too hasty to get the cards out. Paul Taylor in my opinion had a performance he shouldn't be happy with, but probably, knowing Paul Taylor, he probably will be.”

Russell has now been sent off in consecutive games for City - his two yellows following a straight red from another dark day in the Midlands, when City were thrashed 4-0 at Leicester in mid-February.

“He's very disappointed,” said Roeder. “If anything it was a silly attempt to win the ball. He has tripped the lad up. But again in a non dangerous area, but I didn't think Paul Taylor could get the red out quick enough.”

Norwich had only two worthwhile efforts on goal, both falling to Cureton - and both saved by former Canaries keeper Andy Marshall. The second effort, in time added on, was reminiscent of his equaliser at Watford on Tuesday, but Roeder was unhappy that he didn't make the most of a free-kick routine in the opening moments of the second half.

“It was really frustrating - on a free kick that we work hard on in training - to get Jamie in. It was really a 14-yard penalty kick and I was expecting him to bury that,” said Roeder. “You can say Marshall made a good save - it's an average save, he should have saved that. Jamie should have worked him harder on that opportunity. That was a free look at the goal 14 yards out.”

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