We’re ready for Manchester United again, says Norwich City’s Elliott Bennett

Elliott Bennett wants Norwich City to match the performance level of last season against Manchester United - but this time come away with the points. Elliott Bennett wants Norwich City to match the performance level of last season against Manchester United - but this time come away with the points.

Saturday, November 17, 2012
1:30 PM

Norwich City’s preparations for Manchester United’s Premier League visit commenced within miles of leaving the Madejski Stadium.

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Elliott Bennett and the rest of his team mates tuned into United’s thrilling 3-2 comeback win to sink Aston Villa in the late Premier League kick-off as they travelled back from Reading.

“We watched quite a bit of it,” he said. “You knew what was going to happen, to be honest. Villa did really well and rightly took the lead. Manchester United have just got that never-say-die attitude that they’ve had under Sir Alex Ferguson since he’s been there and that’s what makes them such a great team – but that was last week and I hope this week we can go 1-0 up late on and win the game so they haven’t got much time to come back. We’ll see. I think the gaffer would be happy with that as well.

“I think against any team in this league, if you go 1-0 up, there is always a need to try to get that second goal to give yourself that cushion. Every team in this league is more than capable of coming back into games and no one better than Manchester United at doing it. When you go 1-0 up against anyone you’ve just got to keep doing what you were doing to get you into that position and keep putting the pressure on to score more goals.”

City’s squad needed no advance warning of United’s staying power after feeling the full force at Carrow Road last season on a landmark occasion for Ryan Giggs.

“In the two games against them, performance-wise we were brilliant but we didn’t manage to get any points,” said Bennett. “I hope we can keep our performance level high and manage to nick some points as well. It was Giggs’ 900th game and written in the stars, to be honest, but it’s not his 900th this time.

“All we can do is concentrate on ourselves. We can’t affect what they’re going to do. We can just prepare right and I hope on Saturday compete like we did last season and this time come away with some points.

“The mood is really good. We’re on a good run of form, so confidence is high and we’re relishing the opportunity.”

Chris Hughton’s squad have tightened up considerably since heavy season losses to Fulham, Liverpool and Chelsea.

The City boss has spoken in recent days about his desire to try and develop Norwich’s attacking dimension, but Bennett is untroubled by the club’s relatively meagre goal return in the top flight.

“If we were not scoring goals and conceding goals, then yes, but I think that’s the way we’re trying to go this year – keep out goals and win the game any way we can,” he said. “We’ve created chances. The game last week was very poor but we still created better chances than they did and if we can keep doing that, we’ll be okay.

“We’ve been working on finishing in training – we do little bits every day, so I hope we’re going to score a few goals on Saturday as well. It’s a difficult one to answer because every game you go into you’re just trying to win the game.

“If you win 3-2 you still get three points, like if you win 1-0, so we just go out to win games; if that means winning 1-0, brilliant, or 3-0 or 3-1, brilliant as well.

“I don’t think it’s a case of one or the other, you just try to get a balance and win games.”

Bennett acknowledges City’s impressive defensive resolve of late will be tested by a United frontline expected to be spearheaded by fit-again striker Robin van Persie.

The Dutchman struck braces in both tussles against the Canaries for Arsenal last season and has continued in a rich vein of goalscoring form.

“He’s an unbelievable football player, he has great first touch, scores goals, creates goals – he’s a really, really good all-round player,” said Bennett.

“But we can’t concentrate just on van Persie because they have Wayne Rooney, who’s also an unbelievable football player and people out wide like (Antonio) Valencia and (Ashley) Young.

“We can’t concentrate on individuals, we just have to work hard as a team, stay together as a unit, put on a good performance and win the game.

“When you add a striker of that quality, it’s only going to enhance what they’ve already got. They’re a top, top side and they have quality all over the place. (Javier) Hernandez doesn’t really get mentioned too much but he can pop up with a hat-trick. We’re well aware of the great quality they’ve got, but its 11 men against 11 men and I hope we can do enough to win the game.”

United’s £24m summer signing is widely regarded as one of the best strikers’ in the business. Swedish hitman Zlatan Ibrahimovic underlined during the past week he deserved to be bracketed in the same exalted company with a four-goal salvo that included a sublime overhead kick – a party piece Bennett has no plans to try and attempt.

“My back’s not ready for that. I want to be fit for Saturday. For me to try that I’d be inside the physio’s room,” he said. “It was spectacular, unbelievable skill. I think just the audacity of him trying it – most players would have tried to take it down, turn, pass it. I don’t think you can put any blame on anyone, just hold your hands up and say ‘Brilliant, well done’. That’s all you can do, to be honest. It’s just pure quality. You just try not to compare it to any other goal and say ‘Well done’.”

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