City boss Glenn Roeder this morning steadfastly refused to be drawn into talking about “other things”.
For while everyone else in Norfolk might be talking about that first whiff of play-off fever in the nostrils following Saturday's 2-1 win over Cardiff City, Roeder was looking no further forward than tomorrow night's home clash with Hull City.
Well, almost. There were, however, at least two games between now and the end of the season that he was already relishing more than most. One, you suspected was Ipswich Town (a) on Sunday, April 13, and the other was for others to guess.
A chance to set the record straight as far as any doubting Watford fan might be concerned away at Vicarage Road on Tuesday, March 4? Or perhaps the home game with Stoke City a week later and the chance to cross swords with Potters boss Tony Pulis again after Norwich's last league defeat way back at the very start of December?
Either way, the fire of Championship battle was certainly in Roeder's eyes at Colney this morning. And having already performed a minor managerial miracle in getting the Canaries from dead and buried in 24th at the end of October to alive and kicking on for the play-offs come the middle of February, the City chief appeared in no mood to stop now.
He has some scores to settle; some points to prove. And both are likely to work hugely to Norwich's advantage over the next three months.
“I don't think people really appreciate what's happened and how difficult it's been,” said Roeder, as he looked back on the first three months of his managerial reign.
“Eight points at the end of October to what? 41 before the end of February? And thankfully – and I mean thankfully – it's hardly attracted any attention. No-one's expecting too much,” said Roeder. It was, he observed, not the first time that he's fostered such a dramatic turnaround. Even if those with shorter memories rarely acknowledge it.
“I had the same at Newcastle. We got into Europe with a team that was sliding into the Championship.”
Indeed, the next season Roeder actually handed the Toon Army their first piece of silverware in 37 years – the 2006 Inter-Toto Cup after progressing further than any other club that entered the initial, pre-qualifying stages in that season's UEFA Cup competition.
Newcastle would finally fall a round short of the quarter-finals – losing on away goals in a tight, second leg against AZ Alkmaar on March 15, 2007. Six weeks later and Roeder was gone as then chairman Freddy Shepherd ushered in Sam Allardyce.
The new chairman might have crowned Kevin Keegan king again, but they remain firmly on a slippery slope after Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Aston Villa found them tumbling right back where they started when Roeder first took charge in February, 2006.
“We were only four points off the bottom three and we ended up qualifying for the UEFA Cup in that season. Again a phenomenal run; a run that went unnoticed.
“And when you see what's happened since, it makes you realise how well we did that year – and how well we did last year considering we had horrific injuries – to find themselves in the mess they're in now. But I'm not bothered about them; I'm only bothered about Norwich.”
And as a little green and yellow blood starts to seep into his veins, so he's more than happy at the prospect of catching up with the neighbours. Ipswich travel to Crystal Palace tomorrow night – not an easy fixture. Norwich manage to prise another big result out of the Tigers and the two great East Anglian rivals could be seperated by just a point. Roeder has been doing his sums.
Since the end of October – and before this weekend's results – Norwich had ammassed just one point less than leaders West Bromwich Albion. Now they have collected two more after the Baggies stumbled away at Barnsley.
“And I think on Ipswich we've made ten points now, so we're gathering them in – and that would be a target for me personally,” he said. “I say to the lads you've all got to have different reasons, different goals because different things turn you on.
“But for me, personally, there's a few games before the end of the season – and I'm desperate to win every game – but there's a couple of them that would mean a little bit more to me. And the goal of finishing above Ipswich would be one of them for me – and I'm sure our supporters would endorse that.
“And there's one game, in particular, that we play at home that I'm absolutely desperate to win.”
It is, of course, something of a moot point as to just how much managing Roeder, Lee Clark and Paul Stephenson need to do when your charges have now gone 12 games unbeaten. Is it not just a case of a little tweak here, a gentle prod there, but basically letting them get on with it?
“It's a balance of letting things tick over, but not losing control of what you're trying to achieve and letting any complacency come into the camp,” said Roeder, handed the perfect tool to keep everyone on their toes by those four, deadline day loan arrivals.
“So it's a case of letting them come off the high for a day or so before getting their heads focussed again on the next game. And when you're on the run that we're on, it doesn't become easier to win games, it becomes harder. Because any fool can lose a game. But it's much harder to win a game.”
Having come this far, Roeder has no intention of letting anything slide now.
“It's taken an awful lot of hard work to get where they are today and really the season has only just started for us now. And, hopefully, the nightmare that was happening at Carrow Road at the end of October is starting now to slide away.
“And now people's thoughts are turning to other things that might happen this year.”