Enjoyment is returning for Norwich City skipper Russell Martin
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The low point of Norwich City's season at Aston Villa may have been painful, but Canaries captain Russell Martin believes it has sparked a fresh approach to top-flight battle.
At 2-0 up in the 65th minute against West Ham, that raw wound caused by the Premier League's bottom team looked to be healing very nicely.
However, the psychological scars of last month's 5-4 defeat to Liverpool reared their ugly heads and defensive fragility allowed the Hammers to hit back and level the score at 2-2 with two goals in three minutes.
The hosts did then try to get back on the front foot and almost nicked a win in the closing minutes, with Martin feeling that overall his team-mates could be pleased with their efforts – with one key difference.
'I think as a team we lost a little bit of enjoyment for a while, I think the Premier League can do that to you,' the full-back said after helping City to end a five-match losing streak in the league.
'I said last time (City were fighting relegation) that as a club people stopped enjoying it and I think it's going to take everyone, from the players, the staff and the fans to see us over the line. We're confident we can do that, we're disappointed we didn't get the three points but we can build on this for sure.'
With Newcastle's poor result at Chelsea subsequently lifting Alex Neil's team out of the bottom three, Martin hopes City can now continue in a similar vein. With 12 games remaining the Scotland international wants Canaries fans to be able to enjoy seeing their team giving their all to earn vital points in their scrap for top-flight survival.
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'It's hard when you're not winning games, no one enjoys losing, of course,' he continued.
'You work so hard to get here and you have that initial bit when you're still on a high and everyone is enjoying it, you start getting results and then you start getting hit with stuff left, right and centre and you have to close ranks and try and step away from that and ignore all that and stick at what you're good at.
'It's hard when you're losing games. We'd lost five or six games on the bounce – no one enjoys that. Monday to Friday we're working extremely hard, but no one sees that, they only see the 90 minutes. But I think we enjoyed it (against West Ham), we enjoyed the way we played, that showed, and I think the fans enjoyed the way we played and we've got to get that back for the last 12 games.
'We need to try and enjoy it, otherwise what's the point? That's what we all play football for and what people watch football for so that's what we need to get back.'
Martin also praised Robbie Brady for his spectacular opening goal in the 55th minute, robbing Michail Antonio of possession and unleashing a rocket of a shot from 25 yards, which went in off the underside of the crossbar.
'A great finish, a great goal and very similar to the one he scored down there (at West Ham) in terms of he's nicked it off a defender, gone through and then scored, so brilliant for him,' Martin added.
'It's good – he was playing full-back and was getting high up the pitch, I enjoyed it, I was allowed to bomb on and get forward and that's what we were doing last season and the start of this season.
'We got back to that and everyone believed in that, you could see that. The atmosphere was the best it's been for a long time as well. So there were plenty of positives – we just have to build on that now.'