Tuesday 20 March 2018

Martin calls for united front

Russell Martin admits Norwich players are hurting
Russell Martin admits Norwich players are hurting

Club captain Russell Martin called for everyone at Norwich to pull together on and off the pitch after angry protests from fans in the wake of a 1-0 home defeat to West Brom on Saturday which threatens to derail their Barclays Premier League survival bid.

There were some ugly scenes inside and outside Carrow Road following the final whistle, when hundreds of clapper boards - which had been put on the seats to help improve the atmosphere - were thrown onto the field, one hitting under-pressure Canaries manager Chris Hughton.

Stewards had to intervene when England goalkeeper John Ruddy confronted one supporter behind the goal in the Lower Barclay Stand, while Martin will also speak to club officials after he was involved in a heated exchange with a fan.

Boos and chants of "we want Hughton out" rang out at full-time, while a group of Norwich fans later gathered outside the main entrance to vent their frustrations at the boardroom.

It was an unsavoury end to what was supposed to be a period of positive reconciliation after the Norwich players had offered to refund the 899 away travelling supporters who watched the 3-0 defeat at Swansea last weekend.

Hughton's men are five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of the visit to 18th-placed Fulham, but then finish the campaign off with daunting fixtures against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Martin, who helped Norwich climb up from League One under former boss Paul Lambert, believes a united front from everyone around the Norfolk club can turn things around again.

"We got booed off at the end, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but someone said a few things to me which I am not happy about and I will be speaking to someone about that," he said.

"I spoke earlier this week about how good the fans are, and they are, but against West Brom was disappointing.

"This is now a time more than ever to stick together.

"It hurts us as players.

"We are as disappointed as anyone in this stadium. It means as much to myself, to John (Ruddy), people who have been here a long time and played a lot of games for this club and we need them more than ever. They need to get behind us -it is as simple as that.

"I can understand it, because some people have been supporting this club for many, many years. B ut, regardless of how you feel about the management or the players, as a football club you get behind each other."

Martin added: "If you question the desire and commitment, you are wrong and I will have a conversation with anyone about it because the lads are shattered in the dressing room.

"We have not shown enough quality in the final third a lot this season, and we need to sort that out.

"If we can win at Fulham next week, I think it will give them too much to do to catch us, so it is still in our hands, we have to be positive and move on from this."

West Brom, meanwhile, were able to put a positive end to what had been a troubled week following the fall-out from the dressing-room bust-up after the 3-3 draw at Cardiff.

A well-taken goal from Morgan Amalfitano on 16 minutes proved enough of a platform for Pepe Mel's side to record only their third Premier League away win and inflict a first home defeat of 2014 on the Canaries.

Norwich were at least able to offer more in the second half, with Gary Hooper's angled drive hitting the woodwork and then Robert Snodgrass seeing his floating free-kick pushed onto the crossbar by Ben Foster.

Defender Liam Ridgewell hopes the Baggies - also five points clear of danger but with a match in hand - can now push on to secure their own top-flight status.

"You call it (what happened last week) a fall-out, but we call it wanting to win and making sure that we came here and put in a good performance," he said.

"We showed here what a good team we are."

Ridgewell added: "We have some more breathing space now, and hopefully we can take this into the Tottenham game next week."

Press Association

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