December 5 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Steven Whittaker has plenty of honours to his name in Scottish football, and admitted the scalp of Manchester United is another that will stay with him for years to come.
The former Rangers star has slotted seamlessly into Chris Hughton’s defensive line – to the point he is yet to experience conceding a Premier League goal in his first three top-flight performances for the Canaries.
Even the visit of the Premier League leaders to Carrow Road could not disrupt his rhythm, as City put in the performance of their lives to maintain one of their best runs among England’s elite since the Premier League’s arrival.
“Tonight was a massive result for the club, for the players as individuals to beat Manchester United – it’s a great achievement and one we’re going to remember,” said the Scotland international.
“We are on a good run at the minute and that’s a good scalp for us today and another great clean sheet, and we got the goal that won us the game.
“We had our game plan. We obviously wanted to make it hard for them with our shape and hit them on the counter attack, put them under pressure when the time was right.
“The manager has worked on that during the week and the boys knew what was needed and we have all stuck to it, and that showed in the result. We hit them on the break, put made it hard for United to create chances and we limited them.
“You do concentrate that little bit more against them, because you know if you slack off they are going to punish you. So it definitely helps you keep it tight at the back and we did that as a unit and as a squad.
“That is six unbeaten (in all competitions) and that’s great, and hopefully it will continue and the clean sheets will keep coming – because we’ve got ability in the side in forward areas, so if we keep clean sheets then we will score goals.”
From conceding five and four in consecutive games against Liverpool and Chelsea earlier in the season, it is now more than five and a half hours since John Ruddy was beaten in the Premier League. And once again the City number one proved why he is a regular in the squads of watching England boss Roy Hodgson, producing two superb saves and a truly commanding 90 minutes.
“Against the quality of United he is going to get called upon at times and towards the end when they were putting the pressure on, he stood up to anything that came his way and commanded his box, and he has done that for a few seasons now – he is a top quality goalkeeper,” added Whittaker, who was unable to catch Ruddy’s best moment of the match as he got down brilliantly to palm Ashley Young’s drive beyond his far post as the ball whistled through a crowd of players.
“I was on the ground at that point – I landed on my back and I didn’t actually see it, so I asked him at half-time and he said he saved it, so I’ll be watching Match of the Day to see what it’s like.”
The back four will also pick up the clean sheet plaudits as City keep their opponents at bay – but for Whittaker, credit should be spread further still.
“It’s not just the back four – it’s getting into shape as a team,” said the Scot. “Our midfield worked tremendously hard to shut out the spaces and that makes our job a bit easier. I thought at the end we defended our box really well, won the headers that came in and made it hard for United to create chances.”
It was not just the defensive headers that influenced the game of course, after Anthony Pilkington’s wonderful glancing effort from a Javier Garrido centre sent Carrow Road crazy.
“It’s a great header,” said Whittaker. “The boys have watched it back on the TV and he has taken it great and his movement was good, so we are chuffed for him and they are all a great bunch of lads – I think you can see that with the effort on the pitch; everyone is in it together.
“It was a great atmosphere in the ground too – and it always is when we get ourselves in the lead and with the crowd behind us, it gives us that little bit of an edge.”