March 14 2014 Latest news:
Friday, April 6, 2012
Mike Milligan finds it very difficult to separate two of his former clubs as they prepare for their Premier League rematch – but believes the return from suspension of skipper Grant Holt will be a “major plus” for Norwich City against Everton.
Holt scored a memorable goal at Goodison Park when the two sides drew 1-1 back in December, and after serving a one-match ban he will be available for the Easter Saturday return fixture at Carrow Road (3pm).
Former midfielder Milligan feels the Canaries, 11 points clear of the bottom three with seven games to go, have probably done enough to secure another season in the top flight but the return of their 14-goal top scorer gives them a better chance of putting it beyond doubt this weekend.
“Holt has been different class. It’s a major plus that he’s available again this weekend because he’s a real handful,” said Milligan.
“The way he took that goal in the last home game against Wolves was brilliant. If you look at the replay again, to get the ball over one of the tallest ’keepers in the Premier League in Wayne Hennessey was not easy, but he made it look easy.”
March was not the most profitable month for City with just four points out of a possible 15, but they still have a 10-point cushion over the bottom five clubs battling against the drop.
“The 39 points should be enough but it would be good to get one more win just to be certain,” said Milligan. “The bottom three are not totally out of touch.
“It’s a game they will be looking to win, but if not they will want at least a draw.”
Milligan spent one season at Everton in 1990-91, playing 24 first team games, sandwiched between two spells at Oldham. He joined the Canaries for a tribunal-set fee of £850,000 in 1994, making 142 appearances over six seasons and scoring five goals.
He sees a similarity between the team spirit and sheer hard work that have brought success to his two old clubs in the Premier League this season under their respective Scottish managers.
“Nearly everybody thought Norwich would go down so they have over-achieved. The thing is now to try to carry that on for another year,” he said.
“The beauty of what Paul Lambert has done is that he has got a team together and bonded them and he has confidence in his players.
“You don’t always realise just what a lot of hard work it takes to achieve what they have achieved.
“It’s great not just for the players and the club but for the city, and the fans have been awesome, as always.
“And I think David Moyes has done an absolutely phenomenal job at Everton on a very limited budget.
“There was a lot of pressure on him but he came through that and the board have stood by him.
“Now they are in seventh place and have an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool to look forward to and that will be a fantastic occasion.”
Milligan, who was head of player recruitment at League One club Yeovil Town until a change of management in January, is reluctant to forecast a result for Saturday’s encounter.
“Everton are very confident so they will be going into the game on a high,” he said. “Norwich have been playing OK but not winning as much lately, but they’re pretty good at home. All I’ll say is it will be a very, very close game.”