The challenge now is to maintain standard
PUBLISHED: 12:26 03 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:18 06 July 2010
Bryan Gunn has called on his players to maintain their high standards of the summer as the countdown to the League One campaign enters its final week. City have come through seven pre-season friendlies unscathed, with Saturday's 3-2 win over Premier League Wigan the icing on the cake.
Bryan Gunn has called on his players to maintain their high standards of the summer as the countdown to the League One campaign enters its final week.
City have come through seven pre-season friendlies unscathed, with Saturday's 3-2 win over Premier League Wigan the icing on the cake.
All that's left is for them to do it for real - and for Gunn to try and sort out which 11 players take to the pitch against Colchester at 3pm next Saturday.
“They have set the standards and if they drop below those standards that's when we will have to ask the questions, but certainly with the standards that they set today a lot of them have done themselves all good in terms of team selection for next week,” said the City manager.
“It has given me a very difficult problem when they all report for training on Monday morning and they are all fit and well and we get international clearance for Goran (Maric) and Jens (Berthel Askou).
“We have a very competitive squad. That is something that I encouraged the board to give us and they have certainly helped us deliver it.”
New signing Simon Whaley grabbed the winner, but Chris Martin's two goals - both equalisers - give him more than a decent shout of starting a league game for the first time since the infamous trip to Plymouth in November, 2007, which signalled the end of so many Norwich City careers.
Martin spent last season at Luton - and City are reaping the rewards.
“He has done himself no harm at all,” said Gunn. “His whole attitude and the way he has gone about his job in pre-season has been impressive and we have given him an opportunity. We have taken him back from Luton and we feel that there is a player in there that will benefit and help us in League One next season.
“He has got himself top marks today.”
Six wins and a draw in pre-season is impressive by any standards - and just where Gunn wants to be.
“Most definitely,” he said. “It's important that we make sure the players are peaking on August 8, or certainly ready to peak on August 8.
“I think throughout the close season all of the players worked really hard and then when we came back on July 1 there have been quality performances and with the fitness programme we have put there everyone has ticked the boxes. So we are delighted with that and the way the players have approached it because it is important they are switched on and buy into what we want to do and now the big start comes next week and we hope we are ready for it.”
Gunn has plenty of options, enough to make a horses for courses team selection based on what City might expect from Wigan - opting for 4-3-3, with Wes Hoolahan starting alongside Owain Tudur Jones and debutant Stephen Hughes in midfield, Grant Holt down the middle, Martin left and Whaley right.
“We set up our tactics slightly different and I don't think we'll come up against that set-up and that sort of quality of player, no disrespect to League One, but the tactics we set were adapted to this game,” said Gunn. “It has given us something to think about as well and whether we can adopt those tactics ourselves next season.
“We've seen how successful Swansea were in getting out of League One. We have encouraged our players to work the ball out from the back and use the midfield, although we did get caught out with the first goal by doing that, but again we have encouraged the players to do that so we can't be too critical. But again, they have come back and shown character, got themselves back into the game on two occasions and then finished it off with another great finish.
“I'm happy with today's result, happy with the whole pre-season programme - unbeaten is a nice way to finish it and shows the standards that we set now. I said afterwards in the dressing room that we set a standard that we have to maintain and we have to make sure we don't drop below and that will give us the best chance of getting out of League One.”
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