Norwich City midfielder Ondrej Duda says Sunday’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers means more for the Canaries than the opposition, given the two sides’ positions in the league table.
“I expect a tough game because it’s the Premier League and we need the points,” he admitted. “It’s a much bigger game for us than for them because they are safe. They still play in the Europa League, but it’s not as big a pressure. We have pressure but we have to put it away and be relaxed.
“I’ve seen a bit of Wolves because they played against a team from Slovakia in the Europa League. They play very well and have changed a lot in two or three years – new players, new sponsors, new owners. They have quality, but we have to look at ourselves and go there to win the game.
“In the Premier League, teams like Norwich or Wolves or Aston Villa can have seasons where they play unbelievable football or seasons where they don’t. You have five or six teams that stay up all the time and that’s why it’s difficult to say before the season that you’re going to play well. You can see they have quality, but so do we, maybe even more. We can’t just watch them and think it’s going to be a crazy game.”
As far as settling into life in the Premier League goes, Duda says that the warm welcome his teammates gave him made it easier to adapt quickly.
“I feel very good,” he added. “It was necessary for me to change and take the next step in my football career. I chose Norwich and it’s a good step for me. I did not expect that I would adapt so fast, but I can speak a bit of English, which is different to when I went to Germany. I like the club, I like the city, and of course the weather is different, but everything is good.
“They welcomed me really warmly. I didn’t know any of the players personally because we hadn’t met each other before, but they welcomed me really warmly and there wasn’t a problem with that.
“The main reason I came here was that I didn’t get much playing time at my former club and I wasn’t happy with my situation. I was comfortable because Berlin is a beautiful city and has everything, but I’m still young and not everything is about money or a nice city. You have to make a step up and that was the reason I came – I wasn’t satisfied with my situation.”
A good working relationship with Norwich City Head Coach Daniel Farke has been instrumental to Duda’s impressive performances, the Slovakian international explains.
“In the beginning, I didn’t look at it as the Premier League being something different from the Bundesliga,” he said. “For me, the important thing was that I was going to play, that’s what I said when I spoke to the coach.
“Of course, he couldn’t guarantee me playing time because there are a lot of players here and everybody is competitive with each other. It’s not easy, but I said to him that I’m going to do my job and give one hundred percent.
“The Premier League is a bonus because it’s the best league in the world. For me, it’s a big role to move to Norwich in the Premier League and I’m happy to be playing in it.
“I spoke with the manager about the playing time, but he needed to be honest. He said, ‘if you train hard and well, you’re going to play’, but it’s not like you’re going to play for nothing. You get nothing for free and you have to work hard for this.
“It’s difficult to say what it’s like to play under the coach because it’s only been four or five matches, but when a player is playing, they can’t say anything bad about the coach. He knows what he wants. He has plans and systems and that’s what I like.
“I’ve had a lot of coaches in my career and some of them were panicky. It’s difficult to handle 25 players because everyone is a different character, so they have to be strong and that’s what I’ve seen from him until this moment.”
Training at the Lotus Training Centre has been a daily routine Duda has enjoyed more than he did at Hertha Berlin, he said.
“I have to say, I like the training more than I did in Berlin because we do a lot of work with the ball. The warmups are not so long, they’re fast and intensive. In Berlin, we were warming up for about 40 minutes and then you get the ball. I love having the ball and I really like training here.
“The way we play is nice for people to watch and it’s nice football. Maybe we haven’t had so many points but hopefully we start taking them because we definitely have to start winning games. When I go somewhere else, for example Burnley, it’s a good club but they play a different style of football. Maybe if I went there I wouldn’t adapt so fast like I have at Norwich. That’s why I fit in here.
“The Bundesliga is more tactical, everybody’s close and nobody wants to open games. In the Premier League, everyone attacks and defends from side to side and that’s what I like.
“Everyone speaks about wanting to stay up and in football everything is possible. You never know what will happen. That’s why, when we still have a chance and time to change it then we have to try.”