Gold standard required for Norwich City to stop Derby
08:00 20 December 2014
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Only Norwich City’s Championship best will do against the Rams.
Neil Adams is not fooled by Derby’s own dip in form after Wednesday’s Capital One Cup loss to Chelsea made it three defeats in the last four following Middlesbrough toppling them from top spot. Adams expects City’s own recent revival will face a stiff test against one of the Championship’s promotion fancies.
“They might not be used to losing games but I don’t think it is going to affect them,” he said. “They are a strong side, well-organised with good ball players in the middle of the park. They came within a whisker or going up last season and they must have been bitterly disappointed. Many would have been looking at them to see how they would react and it would have been understandable if that had knocked them for six because they probably deserved to be in the Premier League. Full credit, they rolled their sleeves up and they have got back on it again. Potentially it is our toughest game of the season. They are a big club with a big support, like we are, and we are confident we can go and perform.”
Adams wants no repeat of City’s last limp offering against one of the biggest hitters in the division when they folded embarrassingly at Middlesbrough.
“I think I said at the time you never want to lose a game but you can use it to your advantage. That is probably one of only two games we haven’t won this season when we got what we deserved,” he said. “Of course you can use that with the players and remind them of certain aspects. You have to move on but it is a good reminder what can happen if you don’t do your jobs. The frustration for the most part has been we deserved more than we have got. At Middlesbrough we didn’t.”
The City chief is a firm admirer of Derby boss McClaren, who has proved his worth at club-level again after a forgettable period in charge of England that saw the Three Lions miss out on Euro2008 qualification.
“For me, it says it all that he was England manager, because they have the pick of the crop. What he has done domestically in this country and in Europe has been phenomenal,” said Adams. “It will be an honour really to be stood alongside a former England manager. He has been right to the top of the tree and I said that last season when the likes of Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers or Jose Mourinho were six feet away. Steve McClaren has been there, seen it and done it.”
City’s uneven progress may have left them off the pace at the very top but Adams reiterates the end goal remains the same.
“The aim hasn’t changed. That is promotion,” he said. “We set our stall out at the start of the season and that will not change. That is what we are working to. There is still a long, long way to go of course but we remain confident of reaching our target.”