Foxes boss Ian Holloway all but admitted that goalkeeper Ben Alnwick was a lucky man to stay on the pitch on Saturday as Leicester escaped back to the Midlands with a point.
In a typically one-off Press conference, the former Plymouth and QPR boss admitted that many of his side's problems stemmed from playing “like a taxi with both its doors open” – though he did reserve a special word of praise for the Canary supporters.
“Please with a point? Just slightly,” said Holloway, in a typically honest and entertaing mood after Glenn Roeder's Canaries had led him a merry dance and done everything but score the winner that their performance deserved.
“What's the phrase? Remember the Alamo?,” he said, after the woodwork twice denied Dion Dublin with Lee Croft, Gary Doherty, Ched Evans, Mark Fotheringham and Jamie Cureton all seeing efforts whistle either wide or over.
It was all a far, far cry from the last time Holloway bumped into Norwich – as manager of Plymouth when the Pilgrims strolled to that 3-0 win at Home Park. Since then, of course, Roeder's troops have just lost once in the league – and that to a last-minute effort away at play-off hunting Stoke City.
Since switching to the Walkers Stadium and getting his hands on Milan Mandaric's millions, Holloway has added two Hungarian wingers – Zsolt Laczko and Gabor Bori, neither of whom ever got to grips with this weekend's game. And as they struggled on either flank, so Croft in particular had the time of his life.
“We had the wonderful left-winger who was loving it last week and, unfortunately, he didn't look fit – though he said he was fit,” said the Foxes' boss, as his two exotic imports got a further taste of the unrelenting nature of Championship football – plus a lesson in urgent support from Carrow Road's biggest crowd of the season.
“So – welcome to England. They've seen a home performance where their fans lifted them and I thought the Norwich City fans today were terrific – they lifted their team and we did well to hang on at certain times.”
Holloway described his own team's efforts as “ugly” as he, like Roeder, tries to guide his new charges to safety. Both clubs are getting there; both need more points on the door before feeling entirely safe this spring.
“We're all scrapping and fighting because if you look at the results and see where everybody is, you need a fantastic run to get out of it. And we haven't won two games in a row all season – which is why we are where we are at this precise moment,” he said, the sort of inconsistency that Norwich appear to be putting behind them.
In fairness, he took some of the blame himself – “It was probably too wide and open a team, to be honest – the two wide men were a bit like a taxi with both doors open today,” said Holloway, a phrase that is unlikely to feature in any FA coaching handbook.
“We weren't solid; we weren't sharp enough. But well done to Norwich and I'm delighted that we managed to hold on. I thought in the second-half we were much better, because it couldn't have got much worse, could it?
“My boys know that we got out of jail today, because too many of them didn't pass it like they can do.”
It could have been worse. Keeper Ben Alnwick could have seen red after seeing red three minutes before the interval as Darel Russell slid in on a loose ball. The ball was there to be attacked, conceded Holloway – unimpressed by his keeper's reactions thereafter as he threw himself on top of the City midfielder and prompted a brief, ugly melee in his own six-yard box.
“There were so many incidents flying about – it was a bizarre fixture,” said Holloway. “I don't know what my goalie did.
“From where I was it looked like a terrible bit of ill discipline from him. He lost the plot,” said the Leicester chief, more robust in his response to the incident than Roeder who saw no more than a few handbags flying.
“What do you expect Russell to do? He's going to jump in and try and score, isn't he? So he's got to stay a little bit calmer than that, to be honest – and that seemed to spread around my team a little bit.”
It also spread to the touchline where the two managers exchanged 'words' in the heat of battle as the game threatened to slip completely out of referee Tony Bates' control.
“There was a few yellow cards flying about – and Glenn said I was calling for it. What a load of rubbish. Not at all.”
Russell and Alnwich were back on centre stage in the game's dying moments as the Foxes keeper flattened the City midfielder – and all with the ball long gone. Penalty, said Roeder.
“He can think what he likes, can't he?” said Holloway, with the look of a manager that knew he had got away with murder. “He probably thinks his team deserved all three points – and I have to agree with him.
“But we've dug it out. And I didn't think that was a penalty – I think Russell needs some handles on his shorts, because he does dive in a little bit. But he's a fantastic player. And I thought he actually led Norwich today with his tackling.”
Interestingly, Holloway was sat in the stands at Gigg Lane last Tuesday and was convinced that he reaped the 'benefit' of that sorry cup exit.
“I watched them against Bury the other day and I don't think that did us any favours whatsoever, because I thought Glenn used that very cleverly – and to kick a few up the backside sometimes you need that.
“Apparently Clarky (Lee Clark) said that's the best they've played all season so far, but you got no points – apart from one. So we feel like we've got out of jail. Because that would have really hit us if we'd lost that today. So I'll take the point; I won't take the performance,” said Holloway, a broad grin on his face.
“We move on. Well done to Norwich; I'm sure Glenn won't be happy eating his tea later on tonight, but I'll take that point and tuck it in my top pocket. We'll have that, thank you very much…”
He did, however, offer one final compliment before he left. And again it was City's supporters that were figuring large in his post-match thoughts.
“That's not the way that I want Leicester City to play, but I'm telling you – well done to their fans. Well done to the Norwich fans, because I tell you what, you lifted your team today…”
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