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Simple, but effective – and the perfect way for Norwich City to get rid of a blip

PUBLISHED: 06:30 13 December 2014

Jonny Howson of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the DW Stadium, Wigan
. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the DW Stadium, Wigan . Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

If Norwich City ever needed to grind out a 1-0 result it was against Wigan – and that is exactly what the lads did.

Terriers gave me some good times

My former club, Huddersfield Town, are tomorrow’s visitors.

They gave me an opportunity when things were going a bit stale for me at Watford in the late 80s. I had fallen out with then Hornets manager Colin Lee, who had basically told me to move on as I wouldn’t get near his reserve team let alone his first team.

It was a no-brainier when I went up to West Yorkshire and spoke with the Terriers’ then manager Eoin Hand.

Yes, it meant having to take a step down in divisions, but if it meant playing first team football and a chance of kick-starting my career then it had to be done.

I loved my time at Leeds Road, even if my first season resembled my first season at Carrow Road when I didn’t get off to the best starts. Mind you, I did score 15 goals in my first season up there – double my tally for my first season at Norwich.

The fans were fantastic towards me and I still get a very warm welcome from them and the people that work at the club whenever I’m up there. It is great when former clubs show their appreciation towards you as I guess it shows that you must have done something right.

One player I’m sure this will happen to tomorrow is Grant Holt, who returns for the first time since moving to Wigan last season. For four fantastic years of service to City he deserves a standing ovation, and I’m sure you won’t disappoint.

I think we all know his goals were instrumental in getting the club back to the Premier League and keeping them there for two years. The big question is if he scores against his old club will he celebrate? My personal opinion is that Holty won’t as he has too much respect for Norwich City fans.

It was a no-nonsense performance and just goes to prove that when they have to, they can win games ugly. Games don’t always have to be won by playing it the beautiful way.

Neil has proven in the past with his successful 2013 FA Youth Cup winners that he can organise a team to be solid defensively and very hard to beat. In the two-legged final against Chelsea the lads were superb because Neil had drilled them with the tactics of defending deep, getting men behind the ball and making themselves very hard to break down and very difficult to beat. He did the same at the end of last season when he took the team to Stamford Bridge and came away with a very creditable 0-0 using very similar tactics.

Just because the club is now in the Championship he must not think for one minute that the team is too good to win games playing like they did against Wigan.

Yes, it’s great to entertain, score goals and play attractive attacking football, but that doesn’t always win you games. There is nothing wrong in this league, especially away from home, in setting out your stall and asking the question of the other team, “are you good enough to break us down?”

I think many of us were surprised with Neil’s selection last week, especially the midfield four. He opted for four out-and-out central midfielders, full of hard work, battling qualities and, most importantly, vastly experienced. Okay, there was not much pace and width in the team, but with just one win in 10, playing with pace and width, it was a good time for Neil to make a change.

I thought the goal was brilliant in its simplicity and just goes to prove you don’t have to look for the perfect goal every time you attack.

Three players touched the ball after a huge kick from John Ruddy. Cameron Jerome’s neat flick on to his striker partner was perfect – Gary Hooper’s anticipation to Jerome’s flick is what good centre forward play is all about. His hold-up play to give Howson the time he needed to arrive in the box was top class. Hooper’s lay-off was inch-perfect, which meant Howson didn’t even have to break stride to fire in the winning goal against Malky Mackay’s men.

It was simple, but so very effective, and I’d be more than happy to see the team score a few more goals like that one in the next few weeks. I am not saying I want Norwich to be a long ball team, but every now and then just mix play up a bit and be a bit more unpredictable to play against.

The win against Wigan really was the best start possible to a very hectic December and the team now really does need to kick on and show people that their blip is well and truly over.

Having won only once in their last eight home games, tomorrow is a game that they need to show everybody that they are back on track with automatic promotion still a real possibility.

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