Eleven things Norwich City fans have learned after 11 matches back in the Championship
06:30 10 October 2014
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The season’s already a quarter old and so far life in the Championship is proving to be all that City fans expected – thrilling, frustrating, competitive and a little bit crazy.
Ruddy criticism not fair on keeper
1: Keeper John Ruddy came in for a bit of criticism after Saturday with some claiming he’s been at fault for at least three goals in recent weeks. Granted he was slow off his line on Saturday, but I sit right behind the Barclay goal and there was nothing he could do about the deflection. He’s not getting as much to save this season as last – and I guess that means fans might be more likely to remember his mistakes than stops.
Merry-go-round turns yet again
2: Time for a managerial merry-go-round update. After 16 league games, Adams is now the 14th longest serving manager in the Championship. League Manager’s Association stats show the average Championship spell for a manager to be 0.95 seasons, compared to 2.31 in the Premier League, 2 in League One and 2.17 in League Two. Our manager was right – this really is a crazy league.
Why no more Premier scores?
3: This week’s random irritation centres upon the apparent refusal of the half-time announcers at Carrow Road to give the Premier League scores – made especially irritating due to the lack of mobile coverage at the ground. I know the Premier League likes to act like the rest of English football doesn’t exist – but that doesn’t mean we have to do the same back.
Ghouls galore or City fright night?
4: Really looking forward to Norwich’s rearranged home game against Bolton on October 31 – Halloween. In fact, manager Neil ‘The Addams Family’ has been kind enough to give me a sneak preview of the team. John Bloody, Martin Ghoul-sson, Ian Culver ‘Haunted’ House, Witchie De Laet, Jimmy Bone-s, Johnny Howl-son, Leroy Fear, David Hell, Youssef Scary, Wes Boo-lahan, Ricky Van Werewolf-swinkle. Sorry – thought I’d get in there with the cheesy puns before everyone else does.
Here are some of my observations of the Canaries season so far.
TURNER NOT FOR TURNING
City centre-back Michael Turner is quietly becoming a lynchpin of the team. He looks class at this level and his reading of the game more than makes up for a lack of pace. Has there ever been such a serious player of the game though? If you’ve ever seen him smile, let me know what it looks like.
MAD, MAD WORLD
We’re enjoying it so far aren’t we? The quality might not be as high as the Premier League, but the entertainment certainly is. No wonder many regard the Championship as better than the top league in many big European countries. It’s fresh and new and fun – but Rotherham at home on Saturday was a stark reminder that it might not always be that way. The gloss would wear off after a season or two, which is why instant promotion must remain the main aim.
RED HOT OR NOT?
Winger Nathan Redmond was my man of the match on Saturday, at the heart of many of the chances. He’s been much improved for most of the season and you can tell Neil Adams has done some crossing work with him (as well as told him to lay off the long shots a bit). Why are so many City fans so quick to get on his back however?
TIME TO EARN THAT £5M
On the flipside Norwich fans have been very patient with striker Gary Hooper who still has a long way to go before we’ve had value for the money paid to Celtic in 2013. But it’s time we got more out of the 26-year-old striker and his undoubted talents are sorely needed to provide real competition to Cameron Jerome and Lewis Grabban. If he comes back from injury, fit and in the right frame of mind, his could make a crucial contribution.
READY TO GO
Every Norwich fan must agree on this now – Josh Murphy is due a run in the first team. He might at first soar, then fade away for a bit as some youngsters do, but every time he’s on the pitch he makes things happen. Who to make way? That I don’t know, but that’s a question the manager will repeatedly have to tackle.
WITH OR WITHOUT WES?
Wes Hoolahan’s place in the team remains a topic of debate. Some say he slows the pace of play too much. That may be so but when he’s not on the pitch the lack of creativity through the middle is a major worry. Is it time for the tried and tested one up top, with Wes just behind and a midfield before him? Look at what happened last time we tried that in this league.
WHERE TO FIT IN CITY JIGSAW?
Kyle Lafferty impresses every time he appears in a Norwich shirt, but I think he’s struggled to get completely match fit in the early parts of the season. He could also prove to be one of those players hamstrung by being so versatile. I can’t work out his best position for Norwich at this stage. Can Neil?
IN WITH THE OLD, OUT WITH THE NEW
Surprisingly, considering City’s relegation, the spine of the first XI remains from last year. Of those to play more than 25 minutes in the league so far, only 22pc are recently signed. Our core squad of 25 is made up of 32pc (eight) new players. At times of struggle, the likes of Gary O’Neil and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe will need to be given a chance.
HOWSON IS NOW
Jonny Howson gives the centre of midfield so much of the creativity and forward drive it can lack – let’s hope he gets a long run in the team and stays fit.
IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT
Only two of the current top 10 won at the weekend.
What a stat to sum up how competitive this league is. I’m still predicting city to go up – but have no idea who that would be with.
It’s not perfect, but the manager continues to impress with his apparent attention to detail, management of the players and tactical know-how. Hopefully radio’s loss will turn out to be Norwich City’s gain.