Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Monday, April 21, 2014
Neil Adams has urged his Norwich City players to have the courage of their convictions over the Premier League run-in after paying a heavy price for a slack first half in a 3-2 defeat to title pretenders Liverpool.
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez struck inside the opening 12 minutes of a breathless start to proceedings at Carrow Road, which prompted Adams to deliver some home truths at the interval.
Gary Hooper and Robert Snodgrass replied in a far more proactive second period but Sterling’s solo strike after capitalising on Bradley Johnson’s square pass kept Adams’ side firmly in the mire.
“I was delighted with the second-half response. I felt it was a phenomenal performance because with the two early goals we were looking at potentially a heavy defeat,” he said.
“Everybody looks at those first 12 minutes and you are 2-0 down to the team at the top of the table and we have all seen how they have ripped teams apart and gone on and won five, six, seven. I’m sure the majority were expecting the same thing. At 2-0 the world and his dog thinks it is going to end up 5-0, but Brendan Rodgers has said to me afterwards what a second-half performance the side produced.”
Adams was at a loss to explain Norwich’s sluggish play in the early exchanges.
“I pride myself on organisation and I just felt we needed to be more decisive and on the front foot,” he said. “You can’t give them half an inch or they will punish you. That is why they are top of the league with top class players. I thought tactically we were fine. We made one change during the game but basically the game plan was there how we could get at Liverpool. We didn’t get close enough in the tackles, we were a bit shy in our passing and just generally off the pace. We weren’t quite at it and when you play these type of teams it is bang, bang and you can be 2-0 down. A lot of teams could have crumbled then.”
Adams made his feelings known during the break.
“We had to shake them up at half-time. It was key,” he said. “I had to say a few things and sometimes as a manager that is your job. Sometimes you have to get the players going. We had to do that at half-time. There were a few strong words and it got the response we wanted and to a man in the second half they showed some fantastic effort.
“We know we are better and I had to tell them that. I have been in changing rooms myself as a player when a blast is needed and that is what I felt was the right thing to do.
“We gave Liverpool a couple of opportunities and they took them. At that stage you are battling against it and you are right up against it. We talked about belief and conviction and I was absolutely delighted. I don’t think we were good enough in the first half.
“We were 2-0 down to a top side and while we weren’t awful, we needed to be better. You don’t want Liverpool to run all over you but from the first whistle in the second half we were at it. We caused them all sorts of problems. We scored two goals, we could have scored more and we were desperately unlucky with their third goal with the deflection.”