Ivo Pinto vows to keep fighting right to the Premier League end for Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Ivo Pinto has no plans to give up on Norwich City's Premier League survival – even though it now looks only a matter of time.
The Portuguese right-back and January signing from Dinamo Zagreb has made a positive impact on his return to the Canaries' starting line-up since the season-ending knee injuries sustained by Timm Klose and Andre Wisdom.
But the stark reality of the situation facing City following Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester United is that even if they beat Watford at Carrow Road on Wednesday night, a win for Sunderland at home to Everton would be enough to relegate Norwich on the same evening.
No doubt it is all a long way from how the 26-year-old have envisaged the first four months of his career in England panning out, with City's own clash with Everton at Goodison Park completing the campaign.
'I'm very happy to be here in Norwich and I came here to help – and I'm trying to help,' said Pinto defiantly. 'Of course, the results are not the best until now. But that's football and we need to stick together as a team – and we are, and we will never quit until it is impossible. We have to work and fight for that.
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'With every game that is passing it is getting harder now to avoid relegation. But we have to keep ourselves up and we have to keep fighting in every game.
'We are going to have to win both of our remaining games and I think from the last couple of games, we have felt that need to start winning games. Wednesday we have one more opportunity that we cannot waste, so we must prepare for the game very well and work until then to get the three points that we need.'
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Pinto has had more than his fair share of stick since arriving in Norfolk in January – and not all of it was merited.
And yet in the dark Premier League depths Norwich City currently occupy, the full-back's performances at Arsenal and in Saturday's home defeat to Manchester United have offered arguably the only signs of encouragement from two hugely damaging results.
Pinto remains defiant. Convinced the fight must go on and the Canaries – his new home in England – can pull off something that if it did come true, would need to be labelled something far more dramatic than a great escape.
However, if reality does bite as expected then a man who was playing Champions League football as recently as December will either be shipping out of town – or facing another difficult transition. This time to the battering ram of a 46-game season in the Championship.
'I said when I arrived here, the Premier League is the best league in the world so I expected a lot of intensity and fight, all the tackles, everything,' said Pinto, whose excitement on arriving at a Premier League club was hard to ignore.
'It's normal it would take time when I came from the Croatian championship where it is not as strong as the Premier League – but it is the best championship to play in for me.
'To be honest, I believe the fans are confident and they are with the team. They showed that here and I think they will stay with us until the end.'
That end could come as soon as Wednesday's visit from Watford, when even victory would not save Norwich should Sunderland win their own game in hand.
As for the weekend's action, it was a familiar tale of City struggling to take their chances and then conceding to the ones they hand the opposition. Even an average Manchester United outfit had enough about them to take advantage – that the margins remain small is no consolation.
'I think it's the big difference between us and the other teams,' added Pinto. 'We had to face Manchester United and we played a fantastic game against them. We had the chances and we didn't score.
'And in the end, they had say one great chance and they score and then win the game. I think there was just that little bit of difference between us and Manchester United.
'The mood is of disappointment after the game we played. I think we had everything to win this game, the atmosphere was unbelievably good, our supporters were very good also. I thought we started the game very well, we created a lot of chances and in the end we didn't deserve this result. But that's football.'
Something made all the worse by Jonny Howson's season-ending injury.
'At this stage all the players are important for us,' added Pinto. 'Jonny has played all the games so he is very important for us. But if he is not able to play, we cannot miss him – so we must count the other ones that are ready to play in the games and with them, go into the war.'
• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey