City skipper Jason Shackell was happily taking a leaf straight out of Dion Dublin's book at Colney yesterday as he provided a very simple and straight-forward analysis of Norwich City's current plight.
The 24-year-old has found himself stranded firmly on the sidelines of late after seeing red in the midst of the debacle that was Wolves (a).
Not the best place to be as he gets a punter's eye view of Norwich's slump into the Championship relegation zone.
“It's not been nice – we're not performing well. We know that. We're playing teams and not getting the right results and we need to turn that round very quickly – starting on Monday at QPR,” said the 24-year-old, likely to walk straight back into Peter Grant's starting plans on Monday night as both Gary Doherty and Ian Murray hobble off for a chat with matron.
Shackell may, of course, have a completely new defensive partner in place if the Canaries can persuade Middlesbrough's England Under-21 international Andrew Davies that Norfolk is the place to be this winter.
For now, it was all quiet on that front as the 22-year-old Boro Academy product ponders his options. The feeling remained that Hull's geography would give the Teesside-based player one head-start; his previous working relationship with Tigers boss Phil Brown another.
It was a line that Brown continued to repeat this morning as he hoped to team up with the in-demand defender in south London this evening.
“I want to get it done before tomorrow and if it does get done, he'll come and join his new team-mates at the hotel down in Croydon,” Brown told the Hull Daily Mail today, clearly hoping that the Jay-Jay Okocha signing might smack of a club on the up as the Tigers prepare for tomorrow's clash with Crystal Palace.
It also smacks of Hull being this year's Championship club to top the popularity poll at the football agents' Christmas party.
“He sees the bigger picture of coming to a progressive club and wants to be part of a successful one. With a bit of luck he'll pick us ahead of the other clubs,” added Brown, about to look a bit too sure of himself if any Davies deal doesn't come off.
Back in Norfolk and Shackell wasn't exactly under-playing what was at stake in front of the live Sky cameras.
“We need to go there and we need to get a win – it's as simple as that,” said Shackell, with his own, easy explanation for Norwich's recent fall from grace.
“It's just a lack of confidence – it's as simple as that. I think we've been defending very well. I think Ian (Murray) and Doc (Doherty) have been very good.
“And we started creating a few more chances against Scunthorpe and now we've just got to carry on creating chances – and making sure that we take them.”
It's not exactly the season that any new skipper would have wished for – the extension to his current Carrow Road deal to 2010 being a rare silver lining after injury, suspension and the team's overall loss of form make it a steep learning curve for Shackell.
“I think there is a responsibility on me,” said Shackell, who at least has one mentor on that front to hand. “Dion takes charge as well sometimes, but the boys know where we're at at the moment.
“We know we're not performing well enough and we know we've got to pull our finger out, to be honest, and get ourselves going and performing at a level that we should be at.
“And like Dion said, I think we should be embarrassed at ourselves at the moment. With the players that we've got in our squad, we shouldn't be there – nowhere near there.”
Confidence, as in the lack of, lay at the root of the problem. “It's just accummulated over the last few games and the longer the games go on at 0-0, the boys are getting nervous – and then we don't play as well,” he said.
“I thought we passed well in the first-half against Sheffield Wednesday; carried on at 0-0, we get a bit nervous and they nick a goal. So it'd be nice to get an early goal at QPR and start something there – get a little bit of confidence and, hopefully, start a little run.”
At least, he looks to have come swiftly back in from the cold – Julien Brellier's indiscretions found the Frenchman out of the 16 altogether against Scunthorpe United. Shackell will, in every likelihood, walk straight back into the team with Murray switching to the right – foot permitting.
“It's been frustrating – you want to be out there helping the lads. And I was quite lucky that it was only just over a week and a half, so, no, very happy to be back,” said Shackell, who could yet be reunited with Dublin if neither Murray nor Doherty get the thumbs up.
As for that first ever senior red card, Shackell was moving swiftly on.
“It's football – you've got to make tackles; you're going to mis-time one. It's part and parcel of it,” he said, as Wolves midfielder Karl Henry felt the full force of Shackell's fury and frustration.
“I can't remember much of it – I was angry and arguing with just about everybody, I think. But its never nice. You want to be on the pitch and then you know the consequences – you're going to miss more games.
“It's my first red card and, hopefully, I won't get many more. Obviously the first few days was frustrating, but you get on with it. You keep your head down, keep on working on the training pitch and, as I say, I'm happy to be back.
“But that wasn't a nice feeling. But as I said, it's done and dusted.”
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