Consistency in defence is the key to success for Norwich City
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If I was a betting man, I’d put a few pennies on the Barclay Boys trotting out the annual festive classic “On the first day of Christmas, Delia gave to me a Darr-en Huc-ker-by....” (and if you’ve not heard it, yes it does go for all 12 days).
Of the week....
Come on Jose, you’re much better than that
VILLAIN OF THE WEEK: I generally like Jose Mourinho. He’s a great character and a brilliant manager who will probably lift the Premier League title this year. So why did he have to mention the Newcastle ball boys in his post match interview following the weekend defeat? I know he was frustrated but it was a pointless comment. Surely all teams make the most of home advantage?
I fear John will be on his way in January
PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: So the rumours have kicked in to overdrive. Rumours linking John Ruddy with a move away are not new – but are sure to intensify further as the transfer window nears. After what has happened in the past couple of weeks, I fear this is the time when it will happen. I really hope I’m wrong.
New stage career for the linesman?
HERO OF THE WEEK: I’ve never given a linesman a hero gong before. But arise Michael D’aguilar for his priceless performance after being floored by City winger Josh Murphy on Saturday. I’ve tweeted a link to the video and I love his gymnastic roll and super cool reaction.
Such a relief to inflict boos on other teams
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: There were loud boos at the end of Saturday’s game at Wigan as there had been at Carrow Road seven days earlier. City’s victory at the DW Stadium was no classic but was so, so vital and it was a relief to hear that disquiet from the opposition fans rather than ours.
Plenty to Laff about after Kyle’s free-kick
FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE WEEK: A new phrase has been born this week. “Doing a Lafferty” is the chuckle when anyone miss-kicks a shot or free-kick. Laffs’ mishit strike at Wigan was hilarious – and fair play to the hugely likeable striker that he took to Twitter to take the mick out of himself. He’s a top man.
This Boxing Day will be 11 years since Hucks was paraded on the pitch as a permanent signing. It was the perfect present for the Canaries faithful who were dreaming of promotion after a long, long barren spell in the second flight of English football.
There is no doubt that the fleet-footed winger’s influence had a huge part to play in that dream becoming reality the following May with his 14 goals and countless assists.
Norwich got 94 points that season, eight more than second-placed WBA and 15 more than Sunderland in third. It was a romp, make no doubt about it.
Seventy-nine goals scored was no mean feat. Letting in only 39 in 46 games was even more impressive. That defensive strength was without doubt the foundation on which the championship winning success was built.
Digging deeper into the stats reveals that the first choice back five of Robert Green, Marc Edworthy, Malky Mackay, Craig Fleming and Adam Drury only missed nine games between them all season.
Yes, out of a possible total of 230 league games, Green and Fleming were ever presents, Malky was only absent once and the full backs only missed four games each.
What a rock that provided.
Compare that with this season where Neil Adams has so far used eight defenders in front of John Ruddy and nearly as many combinations in the heart of the backline.
We are still three games short of half way and 24 goals have already been leaked.
Saturday’s clean sheet at Wigan was crucial and has to be built on in the weeks to come if we have any chance of challenging for promotion.
We should all know the first choice defence by now but it is a long way from being clear.
Tinkering can be done in other departments according to the game plan – but consistency at the back is crucial.
We must never forget what Holty did for us
I have been fortunate to see many great strikers during nearly four decades as a City fan.
Iwan Roberts, Kevin Drinkell, Robert Fleck, Dixie Deehan, Justin Fashanu, Dion Dublin, Chris Sutton, Dean Ashton. I could go on....
Pound for pound, Grant Holt has got to be one of the best signings in the club’s history.
He arrived in July 2009 for £400,000 as Norwich were at probably the lowest point I can remember.
Holt was a massively key part of the team which lifted City to the top of League One as he bagged 30 goals and then drove the Canaries to promotion to the top flight.
The former tyre fitter proved many doubters wrong by scoring regularly in the Premier League and achieved the hat-trick of player of the season awards. By the time he left Carrow Road he had clocked up almost a goal every two games.
Holt was a prolific goalscorer, a talisman and someone who got under the skin of the opposition.
He is a true City legend and he has said this week that his big regret was missing the chance to say farewell to the City fans who so adored him.
It’s our chance to give him a huge ovation before 3pm and after 4.45pm.
But in the 105 minutes in between, our defence has to snuff him out – or we all know very well what he will do to us.