The many highs - and even a few lows - of the Canary year
06:17 24 December 2015
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Christmas, it’s a time for giving, receiving and lists.
1- Great to see such desire from City
Desire to be first to the ball, desire to win. That was the main reason Norwich took the three points at Old Trafford and not Manchester United. It’s been a theme of late because there have been times City’s players have seemed lacking in this area - and that’s so frustrating. If Neil can solve that issue this team will play to its undoubted potential in 2016.
2- Norwich mustn’t undo good work
How one game can change the complexion of things. Suddenly Norwich goes into a run of three games in a week, two of which are very winnable. Six points from the next nine, which would make it nine from twelve, could see the Canaries start 2016 looking up rather than down. On the flip side, lose to Aston Villa on December 28 and it threatens to undo much of Saturday’s good work. December 28, aptly game 19, could be a pivotal game of the season.
3- Will it be a fab three for January?
With the transfer window set to reopen in a few days, January is certainly going to be an interesting month as Norwich are linked to all and sundry. It’s the worst kept secret that the gaffer wants to strengthen and I’m led to believe the aim is to bring in three players, no doubt one of which is a centre back. With the league position where it is, I’d be surprised if they were permanent deals, we’re more likely looking at end of season loans.
4- Favourite Canary scored first goal
Thank you to the many people who responded to my last column, looking back on the first time you saw Norwich play. Lots of people got in touch with their own memories, some of which can be seen on online. It also helped end a near 30 year mystery and it turns out that Ian Crook was the scorer of my own first Norwich City goal. How apt that he was and still is my favourite Canary of all time.
There’s the pre-Christmas present list, the food shopping list, those dodgy television lists that keep minor celebrities in work and of course the New Year’s resolution list.
I’ll bet the real obsessives out there even have a January transfer deadline day list, of players they hope Norwich City will sign before the window shuts.
So to keep with the theme, here’s my list, for me to give and you to receive. It’s my Norwich City highlights and lowlights of 2015.
Drum roll please...
Who will ever forget that fantastic day, as what seemed like the whole of Norfolk converged on Wembley Way? For those of us who had never made the pilgrimage to the fantastic old venue to see the Canaries in action the day was even more sweet. Of course the match couldn’t have been more perfect, those early nerves settled in minutes, but for me the highlight was taking a moment outside the ground to watch the sea of yellow green converge on the stadium. #proud.
In truth it was a somewhat strange season and there were not that many games so memorable you’ll look back on them for years to come. With form patchy at times, until Alex Neil got his groove, some supporters even seemed to be going through a bit of a Canary lull. The play-off Derby Demolition of Ipswich more than changed all of that. Almost as satisfying as the final in fact.
In this era of 24-hour rolling sports news, football gossip websites and social media it is rare the game springs a genuine surprise. Alex Neil being named manager was just that and must have sent Google into a search engine frenzy. Initial apprehension soon faded when it became apparent this was an exciting appointment of one of the games brightest talents. Long may he reign.
I’ve already written two Norwich City obituaries for Wes Hoolahan when it appeared he was on his way out of the club, but fortunately stayed. I think we all realise now how lucky we are to have a player like him and it’s hopefully going to be a joy to watch him in next year’s Euros.
A CANARY DEBUT
What a pleasure of life it is to take your son to his first game, last week versus Everton, even if he honestly had little idea what was going on. Fortunately the reactions of the Barclay End masses kept him entertained.
It may have only been a 2-2 draw away to Huddersfield but Jamal Loza’s first Norwich goal, in the 98th minute, did feel like one of those moments when promotion is written in the stars.
I’m a sucker for a rags to riches story and while that’s perhaps putting it a bit strongly I’ve really enjoyed seeing the calm and cultured midfielder establish a key role in the squad.
TETTEY IS TOPS
It does feel like Norwich lack a few characters this season. The players you can rely on when everyone else is having a mare. Alex Tettey is one of those, however, and he’s becoming a real cult hero amongst many. Extra kudos for his highly entertaining and intelligent post and pre-match interviews.
Just as many Canary fans were bemoaning the fact we don’t pull of surprise results in the way Watford and Bournemouth do, they go and prove us wrong. It has to be the start of something, not a false dawn like we’ve seen in City’s previous two relegations.
JOHNO BE GOOD
He’s gone, but not forgotten. I will always remember Bradley Johnson’s role in promotion and some of his stunning goals. Whatever he was on last season, I’d like some of that for Christmas please.
AU REVOIR ADAMS
History has proven it was the right decision for Neil Adams’ time at the helm to come to an end - but that made it none the less disappointing at the time. Here was a guy whose passion for yellow and green was clear, but for whatever reason he couldn’t get the best out of the first-team players like he did the under 18s. If he wants it, I hope he gets another crack at management somewhere in the future.
HOOP, THERE HE GOES
Where did it all go wrong for Gary Hooper at Norwich? Was it bad timing? The wrong style? Or lack of effort on behalf of the player?
Perhaps a combination of all three, but as someone who predicted him to score as many goals as Grant Holt, it’s been a shame it hasn’t worked out.
As a qualified ref myself, though no longer active, I’ve always tried to stay away from criticising the man in the middle. It’s such a tough role. But Simon Hooper’s performance against Crystal Palace was something else. It comes as no surprise he hasn’t been seen in the Premier League since.
SO LONG LEWIS?
We may not know the reason behind Lewis Grabban’s no-show against Rotherham in the League Cup, but it was a big disappointment none the less. For what it’s worth, Neil has handled the situation perfectly, though I do think Grabban could be on his way come January.
The 1-0 defeat at home to Middlesborough and the ease at which they kept Norwich at bay seemed, at the time, a major blow to promotion hopes. Ultimately it turned out to be he best thing that could have happened as Neil and co used it to plot the North-East team’s downfall several weeks later.
BOO TO THE BOO BOYS
Booing at half time and even during the game is a modern phenomenon, but it’s one of my own biggest bugbears. The Carrow Road crowd could at times get behind the team more than it currently does. Now there’s your first resolution for 2016.
What a mess. End of.
OH NO, JOHNO GO
In my head it felt like the right decision, but it’s still a big shame when one of your favourite and most improved players flies from the nest. I wonder if we’ll see Bradley Johnson back at Carrow Road in a Derby County shirt soon?
Let me know your highs and lows on Twitter @david_powles