Staying top of the league, City's brilliant form on the road, being away with Scotland and welcoming a new Martin into the world - Russell talks about all that and more in his latest Captain's Blog, plus he answers your questions in #AskRuss!
MUSINGS ON THE CANARIES
A quarter of the season is nearly complete and we are sitting top of the Championship table. It provokes a good feeling from everyone involved with the club and a sense of pride that all the hard work we have been putting in is paying off.
Football can change very quickly however and that is why we won’t be getting carried away or complacent. The league is seriously tight at the top at this stage of the season and in the next few weeks there will be chances for teams including us to try and break away from the pack that separates 1st place and 7th by three points.
The last two games show how tough this league can be and have hammered home to us as a group that we need to be ruthless and clinical if we want to win the league. I remember having games like these last time we got promoted such as Preston and Hull at home.
The fact we are slightly frustrated not to have more points on board tells me that the standards we have set for ourselves this year are extremely high and this is necessary for any successful team.
ON THE ROAD
A real positive change from last season has been our away form and I believe this is largely due to a shift in mentality in the way that we approach our away games. We now set out to try and play to our strengths and impose our style on teams in every game regardless if it is at Carrow Road or elsewhere.
I know the cynics will say that we can afford to do that now that we are not in the Premier League, but I think that a lot of teams in most divisions of British football approach an away game more cautiously. I think some teams are already beaten when they visit certain stadiums as they’ve been told how hard it is going to be and been told what not to do rather than what they should do.
A manager I played under a long time ago always insisted on playing the same way regardless of where it was as “nothing changes, the ball is the same size, the goals don’t move and you have to put it in the net more times than the other team.” Of course it doesn’t always work but I think the outcome will be more positive. So far it has served us well, long may it continue.
INSIDE TRACK ON INTERNATIONALS
In the last blog I spoke about Germany v Scotland and the excitement in the build up to the game. It was great one to play in, the stadium and the atmosphere inside it was fantastic and it is one I will always remember. We ended up losing 2-1 which was really disappointing after the way we performed, particularly in the second half.
In football, you have to get over set backs quickly and move on to the next game as there is always one just around the corner. You don’t get much time to reflect and every victory or defeat is soon forgotten and overtaken by your next result. It is good to feel it though and the minute it doesn’t hurt to lose any game is the minute to stop playing football. The important thing is to not let disappointment consume you and to let it go. Reflect quickly, take the positives, learn from the negatives and move on quickly.
I think that comes a bit easier to more experienced players. I know as a younger player I tended to over-analyse and think about games for too long and sometimes to the detriment of my next performance. It is the same with a victory - enjoy it, look at what brought you success and what didn’t work so well and let it go.
We are on international duty this week for two big games against Georgia at home and Poland away. We need to build on the second half performance against Germany, continue with all the good things we have done in the past 18 months and get two good results which will really get things going and make it a good start to the qualifying campaign.
It would be amazing to qualify for a major tournament and I really hope that we can do it this time round.
A BUSY HOME LIFE TOO...
Since the last blog I have become a father again to a beautiful baby girl.
Grant Holt used to tell me all the time that having a daughter meant you were a real man, which of course, with three daughters made him the manliest of ‘real men’!
We had just beaten Cardiff away and were about to board the flight when my wife called and said she was in the early stages of labour. This made the bumpy one hour flight home a nervous one. I got back from the game, watched X Factor (not my choice) a bit of Match of the Day, and was hoping to squeeze the highlights of our game on the ridiculously late Football League show but it was time to go into hospital.
My daughter was born on the Sunday afternoon and we brought her home on the Monday very tired and extremely happy. My son is already the protective big brother and has been spoilt rotten by everyone who has come around and bought presents for our new arrival as well as him so he doesn’t feel left out - so much so that he has asked me on numerous occasions when watching someone else holds his baby sister where his present is!
I think he believes that’s his big brother fee for allowing someone to hold her. He is polite about it as he always asks me to come to another room where he will whisper and ask where they’ve hidden his present. He accepts when I tell him that it’s not how it works but still wanders off to have a look just in case they’ve left something.
Changing nappies, winding, sick all over my shirt, I’d nearly forgotten it all but am delighted to have them back in my life. They are certainly all more pleasant than sharing an ice bath with Laffs. Something like that will take me a long time to get over!
Until next time,
From Steve Murrell on Facebook: If you could choose, would you have a winter break?
Russ: I would maybe introduce a two or three week break, nothing major and nothing that would interfere with the Christmas and New Year games because I enjoy those as a player and loved them as a supporter. I don't think it is a necessity but understand the reasons behind it and why it makes sense in certain areas.
From Mary Watson on Facebook: Who is your roomy Russ, and do they snore?
Russ: Stevie Whitts is my roomy. He can snore from time to time but nothing a pillow to the head won't stop! His worst habits are that he runs my bath a tad too hot and leaves the teabag in my green tea a touch too long. Apart from that he's a great roomy. Very relaxed and we get on really well.
From Kevin Brown on Twitter: There are many reasons why we should attack our most vocal support, The Barclay, in second halves. Why don't we?
Russ: That's something a good few people have asked me about and something we will probably try a bit more as any edge we can get over the opposition we will use. We always warm up at the other end and therefore start games there so I can only change if we win the toss. It's not something we should rely on as we have great support all around the stadium but we will certainly take it into account and we did it on Saturday to change things up against Rotherham when we won the toss. Problem is I just throw the coin so it's up to the opposing captain to get it wrong so we get a choice of ends.