With Premier League survival and FA Cup glory both still objectives for Norwich City’s season, Kenny McLean believes he and the team can create special memories.
McLean spoke to the media on Wednesday about all things Project Restart, from returning to training, playing behind closed doors, aiming to avoid relegation and more. You can read the full Q&A transcript below!
How excited are you and the team to be getting back to playing football?
KM: It’s been a long time coming, so we’ve been looking forward to it since the fixtures and the dates were announced. It’s good to be back in training. We’ve been trying to get up to speed and ready for these games. Hopefully, the end of the season can be exciting for everybody.
It’s only been about two weeks of contact training, so how are you feeling physically and mentally?
KM: Everybody’s in the same position, so it’s a bit of a level playing field. We’ve done plenty of training and some stuff tactically as well, so we got a lot done in a short space of time. Hopefully, we can take that into the weeks ahead.
What’s the mood like in the dressing room? Has the pause in play galvanised the squad?
KM: We always knew the task at hand and were excited to finish the season, but we’ve had time to think and realise the position we’re in. We’re desperate to get going on Friday and hopefully it can be a special end to the season.
We’ve worked so hard and find ourselves in a tough position, but we feel like we’ve still got a chance of surviving in this league. It’s where everybody wants to be. We’ll show that on Friday.
What would it mean to the team if you do avoid relegation?
KM: We need to have that confidence, otherwise it’s pointless turning up. Everybody is desperate to get going and the manager will never let us drop off a yard. He’s kept us going. The games will come thick and fast, but we’ll be ready for that and look forward to it.
What did the team learn from the recent friendly win against Spurs?
KM: It was more about getting up to speed, playing against a Spurs team littered with quality. We felt we did well and were in a good place considering the break we’ve had. Although it was a friendly, it was good to come away with a positive result.
What’s been the focus in training ahead of the game against Southampton?
KM: We’ve been looking at what we can improve on by looking back at a lot of games from this season. We’re trying to improve and tweak a few things we’ve been doing. Fitness is a big thing, but we’ll try to implement our style back into the game.
Is this game the perfect one to resume with? The last meeting between the sides was quite close.
KM: Whoever it’s against, we’ll be right up for it. Every game is massive for us, we know that, and we need to go into every one looking to get maximum points – that’s the only way we can go into it.
Three points are up for grabs and that’s what both teams will want. We’re desperate for the points and we’re going to show that on Friday.
How are the team viewing still being in the FA Cup?
KM: We’ve got to view it as an advantage. We’re playing a lot of games in a short space of time, but we’ve got a good squad with plenty of players who can step in for those who are tired or injured.
Everyone wants to be in the FA Cup. We’ve got a big game against Manchester United which can send us to the semi-finals, so it’s exciting, even for the fans who will miss out on being there. It’s up to us to give them something to cheer about.
How does playing behind closed doors affect the motivation levels of the players?
KM: Especially at home, the fans get you up for it and give you that extra couple of percentages, but we need to try to do that ourselves. We know there will be plenty of fans watching at home supporting us. I think we’ll feel that and use it as fuel to get the best out of ourselves.
It’s a bit unfortunate but in times like this, it needs to be this way. We’re just happy to be back on the pitch and hopefully giving them something to cheer about.
How have you found the Premier League this season and what would you like to achieve?
KM: It’s got to be to stay in the Premier League. Playing in this league for as long as you can in your career is special. It’s a big ask but it’s a challenge we look forward to.
This season has of course been tough. We find ourselves in a difficult position, but it’s been enjoyable. I think we’ve brought something different to the league and it’s been great for the fans to be back in this league.
They want to stay in it as much as we want to play in it so we will give everything in the last few games.