MARTIN: THE FANS HAVE DESERVED FAR BETTER
NORWICH have to restore pride in the jersey if they are to make a promotion tilt next term, according to skipper Russell Martin.
Following relegation last year, an immediate return to the Premier League was the objective and the 31-year-old defender admits missing out on the play-offs constitutes a failed campaign.
Alex Neil lost his job last month as a result, with Alan Irvine taking the reins on a caretaker basis. A new boss will not be appointed until the end of the current season, though director of football Stuart Webber has now been in place for three weeks after joining from Huddersfield.
For Martin, the responsibility lies with the players, taking plenty of it on his own shoulders for this year’s struggles, while urging his teammates not to take the club for granted.
“It’s difficult. You get judged on 90 minutes and people don’t get to see what goes on the rest of the time,” said Martin, speaking after taking part in the Kits for Kids campaign, run by Wickes, official partner of the EFL.
“I feel extra responsibility as captain and being here a long time. I know how much it means to the city and the supporters. I take it personally and it hurts me, but we have to use it as motivation for next season. In some ways, you have to forget about this disappointment and put it behind you.
“My form has been up and down. It’s been the same for everyone. There are games where you feel you could have done better. There’s not one player over the course of the season who can say they have been right up there.
“It should be a privilege to play for a club like this. You should be proud to play for Norwich and these fans and excited to be out there. Hopefully, we can get that back.”
That could come with Webber’s arrival, which signals a new direction for the club, as they look to take a more continental approach with the director of football model.
The former Huddersfield and Wolves man has quickly identified some of the issues at the club – notably a bloated, unbalanced first-team squad and a lack of atmosphere at Carrow Road.
Resolving the first issue is a job for the summer, Webber hopes the latter will come with some good results.
And, in Martin’s eyes, the foundations Webber is looking to put in place bode well ahead of next season.
He added: “What Stuart wants to bring in is a way of playing that suits the playing staff at the club.
“It’s an entertaining style that fits with the football club.
“We have all met him at the training ground. He wants to have a chat with every player and, as players, we want to prove ourselves. It’s up to us in these last few games.
“There’s frustration and disappointment at how the season has gone so there’s a lot of motivation going into the end of the season.
“Our away form has really let us down. We’ve not found a balance between attacking and defending as a team. That’s something we need to improve next season.”
PRIDE: Martin says Norwich players have to regain it