Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Embarrassing, totally unacceptable; Norwood says Northern Ireland players are to blame for defeat against Luxembourg

Horror: Oliver Norwood knows the players must bounce back

Northern Ireland midfielder Oliver Norwood has admitted the players must take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror and find answers for Tuesday's embarrassing World Cup defeat to Luxembourg.

The Huddersfield Town star was at a loss to explain how the Northern Ireland side could go from a fine performance in the 4-2 defeat to Portugal to a shambolic display a few days later leading to a 3-2 defeat against a side who had not won a home World Cup qualifier in 41 years!

"It is definitely a night I want to forget," said Norwood.

"What a difference four days makes going from the performance against Portugal to that.

"Frankly it was embarrassing and hard to take."

He added: "I didn't feel as if we were ever in control. If we're going to stand there and take all the positives from the Portugal game, then we have to stand there and take everything else on the chin and move on.

"We shouldn't be losing against Luxembourg.

"There's absolutely no way of sugar coating this one, even retrospectively.

"It's embarrassing. If there's a way to have lost a football match, that was it. Entirely disappointing and embarrassing.

"They were three poor goals from our point of view to give away and now we are suffering.

"I've full respect for Luxembourg and I've never said that we deserve to do this or that, or disrespected Luxembourg but we came here to win and they outplayed us. We have to hold our hands up and accept that.

"Individually it wasn't good enough, collectively it wasn't good enough... nowhere near the levels we have set ourselves and the only chance we have of moving forward or getting back to what we were is to never slip up like that again."

Norwood spoke about the fury of manager Michael O'Neill in the dressing room after the match.

He said: "Michael told us the performance wasn't acceptable and asked us how we could have possibly gone from performing the way we did against Russia and Portugal to that. I'm sure he he won't let us forget it.

"Now we have to look at ourselves and find the answers pretty quickly as there's only a month until the next game.

"We have to look in the mirror and be honest, rally round again come October for the Azerbaijan qualifier away."

With tactical switches during the game, Norwood found himself playing in a number of positions from central midfield to out on the right of midfield and in the role just behind the striker.

He said: "I think I played every single position going apart from goalkeeper. It's just one of those things, I was asked to play different positions and you just get on with it.

"We were trying to get back into the game and were doing whatever we could to do that. At 2-2 when Gareth McAuley had levelled late on, maybe we were being a bit naïve because we tried to go on and win the game and left space in behind which they exploited."