The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Paul Ed­di­son

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

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