Words hold limited value – but respect will dig Norwich City out of their Premier League hole

City need to have shaken off their bewildering experience at the Etihad. Picture by Paul Chesterton/

City need to have shaken off their bewildering experience at the Etihad. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I like press conferences. It’s unlikely that statement is going to win any prizes given my occupation, but it feels like a good place to start. No doubt the access us journalists get to football’s personnel only gets more tightly managed, but that hasn’t stopped the times we do get to chat with the game’s players – literal and metaphorical – being extremely worthwhile exercises.

Demeanours, dealing with a grilling from the press, even just the general atmosphere around the place – they are all tells on what’s really going on. Especially when put alongside all the other various tips, nods and whistles that tend to be passed our way by all manner of sources.

Yet even a man as press conference-enthused as myself felt Thursday’s regular Colney date for once only carried limited worth.

After all, Norwich City are now at the point where words can do nothing to repair their current situation. Nothing to make up for the clearly abject nature of their showing at Manchester City last weekend.

The only thing that matters are the 90 minutes this Saturday.

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In fact arguably the most difficult thing from here is that while this weekend’s game is of huge significance, the intense pressure currently surrounding Norwich City Football Club is the kind that will take more than one win and one performance to ease.

Football is littered with clubs who reach past points of no return. It would be ignorant to avoid the fact that for a significant proportion of Norwich fans, their club reached that point after Saturday’s humiliation.

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Likewise, that’s not to say the rest of the Canaries’ support aren’t a mixture of indifferent and steadfastly behind Chris Hughton – because they are.

This is probably the worst possible time to bring up one of the mantras uttered repeatedly by the previous manager down at Carrow Road – but it is arguably more pertinent now than at any time he used it.

You all know the one – a club’s players and fans are the only important elements. Get them working together and everything is possible.

Find them battling each other and you may as well be playing 22 v nil. You thought 7-0 (seven) was bad?!…

For two of their last three Premier League home games, Carrow Road has been a difficult place to watch football as a Norwich fan. This isn’t a criticism of the supporters either – it’s a clear chicken and egg situation whether the team or the fans have the responsibility to get things going (the answer of course is both).

Through the Canaries’ greatest past malaises, the disintegration of the bond between fans and players has been the most corrosive part.

While harking back to where City have risen from in recent seasons isn’t the best habit to get into, that first point is the one to remember from the fall towards League One.

And when the going gets tough, that mutual respect and desire to push in the same direction is needed even more.

Whether Chris Hughton turns around City’s fortunes from here on in or his time at Carrow Road comes to an end over the coming weeks, it will be the players and fans who will remain – that will be the combination to define how Norwich City’s third successive season back in the top flight ends up.

And it means that even now, maybe even Saturday at what could be the height of frustration, both sides need to be protective of it.

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