Under pressure City boss Peter Grant summed up last night's events very simply and succinctly.
?It could have been much worse – and it could have been much better,? said the Canary chief, after watching his side draw 0-0 with newly-promoted Scunthorpe United at Carrow Road last night.
Usually, you would precede the word 'draw' with some sort of traditional football adjective – to a tame 0-0 draw, clung on to a 0-0 draw, ground out a 0-0.
FGiven Norwich's circumstances, it is difficult to know what best to put before this particular goalless effort – performance-wise they didn't particularly stumble, result-wise they did.
Clung on to a point they certainly did when Gary Doherty's desperate, second-half block saw the ball spin up and against David Marsall's right-hand upright; by the same token, you could argue they deserved more than a point when substitute Chris Martin produced the shot of the match moments after his arrival only for the ball to slam back off the inside of Joe Murphy's post.
Spin it this way or that, it is this morning's Championship table that probably speaks volumes with the Carrow Road side now officially in the bottom three following Preston's 5-1 demolition of Southampton.
With a trip to bottom of the table Queen's Park Rangers next on the agenda next Monday night – and all after a full round of Saturday games elsewhere – the pressure hasn't started to ease. That requires three, big points – even if there were crumbs of comfort to be had in the sight of Norwich actually creating chances.
Both the spirits and the legs appeared willing. Apart from Doherty whose over-worked groin has now called it quits for a few weeks.
?The ball that ricocheted and hit the post and you're thinking: 'Oh well, maybe that's my luck changing a little bit…'? said Grant, who went in to the game with all his attacking guns blazing in the shape of a straight-forward 4-4-2 with Darren Huckerby to one side, Lee Croft to the other with the returning Dion Dublin and Jamie Cureton slammed straight down the middle.
In the end, however, it was the arrival of the teenage Martin for Cureton deep into the second-half that came closest to breaking the deadlock and giving Grant himself a much-needed breathign space.
?The Chrissy (Martin) goes up and smacks one. When it left his boot it was in – and then all of a sudden it just moved to the left a little bit and hit the post. And it wasn't to be.
?But we had a few near things and we were positive; the boys were positive; the team selection we put out was positive and the bench selection we put out was positive – and at the end of the day, that's all we can be. We're here to win games of football.?
In fairness, City are only in the bottom three courtesy of their goal difference – the difference being, of course, that Norwich aren't scoring enough goals to improve that difference. And for 'enough', read 'any' as they head towards the eight-hour mark without a strike.
?Of course, that's always a concern,? said Grant. ?I look at the number of chances that we've created and it's not been massive, so I've got to look at that and assess it.
?But credit to the boys, I can't ask them for any more effort. I've said that many, many times – and it's a fact. A little bit of quality? Yes, I'll always ask for that.
?But they kept going; they showed great commitment; tried to do their jobs properly and if they'd taken one of the early chances, then I think it would have been a completely different game.?
What was no different was Norwich's run of luck on the injury front as Doherty bowed out. Having picked up a slight groin strain away in the Carling Cup tie at Eastlands and then having played on again first against Sheffield Wednesday and now against the Iron, he is now likely to be sidelined for a few weeks – that groin well and truly aggravated.
At least, Grant can call on skipper Jason Shackell at Loftus Road. But if Dublin is to stay up front, then the only right-sided option left to the manager is teenager Michael Spillane. Once again thoughts turn back to that still-vacant No5 shirt.
?Apart from the result, the only disappointing thing is losing Gary Doherty now for a few weeks – that's the problem we have,? said Grant.
?He was determined to play tonight and it was a big decision that I had to make because I was going to play Dion in there, but Gary was determined to play and you could see at some times that he could hardly run.
?It was a great credit to him – he said: 'I want to play, I want to play…' And that's the sort of spirit and commitment that you need, but unfortunately that's maybe going to come back to haunt us in the fact that he's not going to be available for the next few weeks.?
Whether Doherty will be fit enough to return for the home clash with Bristol City on October 20 is one question for the future. For now, he is out of the picture – groin gone.
All eyes, instead, are on that Rangers game – their first home game since getting shot of boss John Gregory. Live on Sky to boot, three points last night would have left everyone sleeping rather more soundly in their beds.
As it is, one point from the back-to-back home games against Wednesday and United leaves everyone firmly on the edge.
?Obviously it's frustrating – it's a home game. A home game we want to win. We want to win every game we play in – but definitely at home,? said Grant, still aware of that over-riding need to turn more chances into goals, better performances into results.
?But give credit to Scunthorpe – they're a tough nut to crack as they've proved not just here, but elsewhere as well.
?And they're in their rightful position and we're in out rightful position – because we're not winning games of football.?