As if a point at Anfield needed any more headlines, Russell Martin’s brother chipped in with a post-match pearler .
He revealed that late last night the skipper drove the four hours from the team hotel back to Norfolk to witness the birth of his son. Then this morning, no doubt accompanied by some bleary eyes, he flew back to Merseyside in time to lead out the Canaries and chip in with an equaliser.
And we thought Grant Holt was Superman! Yet, to top it all, his post-match interview on Canary Call reached Churchillian levels, with barely a dry eye in the house.
That Russ played a part in the Liverpool opener can be forgotten, and attributed to said bleary eyes, particularly for the way he marshalled a back-four that was given a stern second-half test.
Yes, they rode their luck at times and yes, John Ruddy was absolutely magnificent (and, by my skewed logic, cancelled out the ‘worldie’ display of Jack Butland) but this was not a point borne solely of fortune. It was a point chiselled out by a combination of neat inter-play, organisation, discipline and good old fashioned guts.
And, most importantly, it means Anfield is no longer a place to be feared.
While Suarez has long since departed the scene, the pain is still raw. Ruddy feels it, Russ feels it, so too Wes and the whole of the Yellow Army. Mention Liverpool, close the eyes, and you see the Uruguayan scoring.
But maybe today is a turning point.
In the future, when we talk of City heading to Anfield, it’ll be the day Russ popped home, became a dad, popped back, and nonchalantly knocked one past Mignolet to equalise. And I much prefer that.
He’ll not forgive me however for making it about him. In his post-match BBC interview he described beautifully just what makes the Class of 2016 tick: “The manager has set us certain targets…You can’t just aim to finish 17th. We’ve not got any superstars but a real team.”
The manager too confirmed the same and the importance of picking horses for courses when setting up to play away from home. He described how the skills of Wes Hoolahan were sacrificed in order in order to accommodate “workhorses through the middle who cover a lot of ground”.
As ever – despite the pre-match protestations of Twitter – he called it correctly. The workhorses did the job well.
And it wasn’t the Alamo of previous seasons. As an attacking force City did pose a threat throughout and, while Ruddy’s save from the Coutinho one-on-one was worth a point for the Canaries, Mignolet’s late save from Matt Jarvis’ close range effort could well have saved the job of Brendan Rodgers.
For their part, the Reds did improve after the break and asked more questions of the City rearguard once Danny Ings entered the fray but few could argue that City, while second in the stats department, were worthy of a point.
And that makes me happy.
During the week, pundits aplenty were queueing up to dismiss City’s chances, citing our miserable record on Merseyside as a perfect and timely fillip to Rodgers’ ailing fortunes; the Canaries’ chances of emerging with a point or more seemingly written off with the shrug normally associated with cup minnows as they head off to tackle Premier League royalty.
Fortunately, talkSPORT’s finest were wrong to a man… and woman. And it was great.
As ever, those who are not part of the Yellow Army will scoff as we celebrate a point as if it were a win – and we were quick to pour scorn on the ‘celebrations’ of Ipswich fans following the draw at Portman Road – but given what’s gone before at the southern tip of Stanley Park I think this is one draw we’re allowed to wallow in. At least just a little bit.
So, eight points from six games, which represents City’s best start to a Premier League season since the heroics of 1992/93. And all of a sudden there’s a feel-good factor around the place that seemed a million miles away when that bloody window slammed shut.
Even Lewis has re-entered the fray.
Hopefully the spirit of Anfiled can be captured, wrapped in cotton wool and released into the Carrow Road air again on Wednesday evening, where the oddity of a cup run can be attempted. And there’ll certainly be one or two keen to make an impression, not least a certain Northern Irish centre-forward who’ll be desperate to stake a claim.
I’m sure Russ – unquestionably the hero of the day – will forgive me if I leave the final word to the gaffer.
Quote: “We believe we’re a good team…we’ll never quit…we’ll be fine”.
And who’s to argue.
Paul Pitcher says
Great piece as always Gary.
It was great heading into the PL with PL but he always for me had this gunho approach. Alex…….just seems more calculated and a proper man manager. He seems to think and it seems to be acting out and finding its way onto the pitch. In Russ do we now have a Johnno replacement after today’s antics??
Colin M says
230+ appearance’s, 6 seasons service, bearly a game missed,more blocks than a builder’s merchant plus goals, our very own Captain Marvel…..then he gives the best radio interview on radio Norfolk I’ve ever heard from a footballer. Congratulations Russell Martin, a truly great Canary.
Gary Field says
The pendulum took one almighty swing this afternoon from, “Russ is never to centre back” to “what a legend”, after the combination of his brother’s tweet, in betwixt a nice chest control, swiftly followed by a deft flick.
Nice goal. Even better team performance.
Next up, second in the League.
Watch out West Ham.
Premier League Pedant says
I’m pleased he made amends for that poor pass in the first half, in fact I’m just pleased for him in general. Russ and Seb are a really good centerback partnership, they don’t get enough credit. And the way he took his goal was cool as ****.
I’m really proud of the whole team and happy our fantastic away support had something to cheer about again after the St Mary’s no-show. The only downside is that Liverpool are really just an expensive mid-table team these days – the next two games are against genuine top four clubs. But at least we can go in to them with a lot of confidence. Bring it on.
Jim Davies says
Excellent result, and as cool a goal as you could want from Russell Martin. Ought to be a candidate for goal of the month.
Keeping up our average of four points from three games, which will guarantee survival with 52 points, and keeping Rodgers sweating for his job – couldn’t be better.
David Bowen says
As usual Gary, you’re bang on the money, this team led by Alex Neil, never stop fighting, never give up hope. There were eleven heroes on the pitch with the “Norfolk Cafu” the biggest of the lot! OTBC IANWT
Bob in Diss says
In the end it was a very good point and hats off to the Captain for his efforts on and off the pitch yesterday.
We didn’t create much however and although the Hoolahan decision is being claimed a masterstroke, I think if repeated at a more in-form and clinical West Ham, it would be a big mistake. I’m assuming Jarvis can’t play, so Wes has to start hopefully. We have to give the Hammers defence more to think about.
To leave out your most skilful player who is bang in form purely for tactical reasons makes no sense to me. Barcelona would never do it with Messi.
I’ll also be glad when Mulumbu takes over from Tettey. AT may be a great lad and a battler, but discipline wise he’ll cost us and his positioning towards the end which left Coutinho on goal was bizarre.
Infuriating to see English players in red falling over in the box so easily.
Premier League Pedant says
Yes Bob but we aren’t Barcelona! They start as favourites against pretty much every team on the planet. As underdogs it’s horses for courses, if that isn’t too many animals in one sentence.
jeremy young says
Listening to the pre-match and post-match chatter, it is a sign of how poor Liverpool are that they could not even beat themselves – I assume Liverpool were playing themselves as there has been little or no mention of Norwich.
Still, it was a good point, and it has been a good start to the season
Tbh I rather prefer when pundits don’t talk about Norwich since they are generally wildly ill-informed
onwards and upwards – OTBC
Bob in Diss says
PLP(8) – we are the Barcelona of East Anglia though. Let’s be that horse that doesn’t follow the pack.
While Wes is on top form, it’s criminal to leave him on the bench for the whole game. He’ll go off the boil at some point – quicker if not played in those big away tests.
Ben K says
I hear you, Jeremy. It feels like Norwich are the invisible club sometimes. Some of the reasons could be that each of the last two times we’ve made it to the promised land there have been other clubs with novelty status coming up with us. Last time it was Swansea, this time the Bournemouth love-in, as Gary has mentioned, is in full swing.
Not that I’d want it to go too far the other way. After this match all the reports I’ve read have said that we fully deserved the point, even if the focus has been entirely on Liverpool, but I can’t help thinking we were at least a little bit lucky. It was a good performance but Liverpool actually did quite a lot right and put us under a lot of pressure. A sharp Daniel Sturridge would’ve had at least one goal. Other than the one gifted by Mignolet and the Jarvis chance, did we really create any others?
What it will come down to is beating the teams who will be in the lower third of the league, primarily at home and in a few of the away games. We should be confident of that happening.
Premier League Pedant says
If you listen to Paul Merson we certainly are the Barcelona of East Anglia, although I wouldn’t advise anyone to listen to Paul Merson. I understand the argument that Wes would’ve given them more to worry about, and it was a good time to take them on. Who can say what the result may have been had he played? But also, at 33, maybe we need to give him a little rest now and then anyway.
Players in red falling over!
This is the Prem after all but I seem to remember one of your own having a good diving technique on a couple of occasions last year or have you forgotten?
Bob in Diss says
Mick – no and he was Irish, not English (you didn’t quote me accurately)..he also made it convincing enough for the ref to give it!
Admit it – you’d have him in your team (Watford?).
He is a good player. Just a shame that he likes to cheat his fellow professionals with his antics!
Gary Gowers says
Mick (15) – You make it sound as if Wes (honestly, it’s OK to say his name) is the only player ever to have ‘gone down easily’. Get over it.
And he’s far from the serial offender you seem to be suggesting