That was not what the Doc ordered
CHRIS WISE Gary Doherty reflected on the infuriating inconsistency which looks set to scupper any late Norwich bid for the promotion play-offs and declared: “It has got to stop now!”The Canaries wasted a glorious chance to put a little pressure on the sides above them in the Championship table on Friday night when they slumped to a hugely disappointing 2-0 defeat against a Burnley side who had lost their previous six matches.
Gary Doherty reflected on the infuriating inconsistency which looks set to scupper any late Norwich bid for the promotion play-offs and declared: “It has got to stop now!”
The Canaries wasted a glorious chance to put a little pressure on the sides above them in the Championship table on Friday night when they slumped to a hugely disappointing 2-0 defeat against a Burnley side who had lost their previous six matches.
With their rivals all failing to win the following afternoon, City would have been just five points off the play-off zone today had they put the struggling Clarets in their place.
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Instead they are now eight points adrift of six-placed Preston with six matches left to play - and if the Lilywhites take full advantage of their game in hand tomorrow night at home to bottom side Crewe then it really will be all over bar the shouting.
It was a weekend that summed up City's season as a whole - a classic tale of what might have been - and Doherty didn't need to be reminded that his side had once again failed to produce the goods when the chips were down.
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“The lack of consistency this season has been very disappointing,” said the big defender. “We seem to get a good run going and then we play really badly, and suffer a body blow as a result. I am fed up with us playing well for a little while, putting two or three good results together, and then going right back to square one by losing a game in really disappointing fashion. That has got to stop - now.
“We have got to cut out these bad games and prove we can produce the goods week in, week out.”
In normal circumstances an inconsistent side like City would have been well off the pace by now. But the Preston, Wolves and Cardiff are offering the chasing pack every encouragement at present and Doherty is refusing to rule out the possibility of an amazing finish to the season just yet.
“We have got to stay positive,” he said. “We have turned in some good performances recently and we could easily have picked up another good result at Burnley, even though our overall performance was bad.
“There have been more highs than lows of late. Since the Ipswich defeat we have turned in some good performances and if you take the Crystal Palace disaster out of the equation we have done quite well.
“We are not ruling out the play-offs. We have got to keep hoping, even though it is going to be very difficult now. Until it is mathematically impossible we will keep pushing on - and if it were to become impossible then we would have to start building for next season. If we don't go up this time we have got to make sure we get it right next year.
“The next six games are really important, make no mistake about that.
“We want to finish on a high - and we also want to make sure we are part of the gaffer's plans.”
As for Friday's night shock defeat, Doherty reckons it would have been a very different story had City taken a couple of the four clear-cut chances that came their way in the opening 15 minutes.
“It was very frustrating for us and I am sure it was very frustrating for the fans as well,” he said.
“Bearing in mind the sort of form we had been in, and the run they were on, we should have come away with all three points, and that would have made things interesting - but unfortunately it was not to be.
“We blitzed them early on, really opened them up, and created some good chances that we really should have done better with. If we had been 3-0 up after 15 minutes I don't think they could have complained.
“If we had scored first I think it would have put a lot of pressure on them but sadly that's not the way I turned out.
“They probably had two good chances all night and stuck both of them away. That's football. It's all about making the most of your opportunities and we can't argue that they were better at doing that on the night.”
Doherty was one of City's better players at Turf Moor in what was his 35th consecutive appearance for the first team - and it would come as no surprise if he was named as the club's player of the season at the end of next month.
The Republic of Ireland international is more interested in picking up team trophies than individual awards, but it would clearly mean a lot if he topped the fans' poll.
“I'm not taking anything for granted but if I did win the award at the end of the season it would be a great honour for me,” he said. “I had a difficult end to last season but I worked very hard on my fitness during the summer and that certainly paid off. I have really enjoyed my football this season - although it goes without saying that I would have liked the results to have been a lot better.”