Three at the back for Norwich City – not quite the model formation is it?

PUBLISHED: 06:30 19 November 2014

Ignasi Miquel in under-21 action for Norwich City. Photo: Bill Smith

Ignasi Miquel in under-21 action for Norwich City. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

One of the most common questions being asked around Carrow Road at the moment revolves around the three central defenders who joined Norwich City during the last transfer window.

Opponents preparing to play I-spy with football’s Mr Nice Guy

Saturday’s match against Brighton will be an interesting one for Elliott Bennett.

The club he’s contracted to hosting the team he is currently on loan to.

I would imagine both managers will be cosying up to him this week in an attempt to find out the deepest, darkest tactical secrets of their opponent.

I’d trust him not give anything away though, because Bennett has to be one of the contenders for the ‘Nicest man in Football’ award.

He remains the only footballer I’ve ever interviewed to have started an answer about a goal he’d scored by saying “Thank you very much”.

A chance encounter in a Norwich coffee shop last week only enhanced that feeling as he asked, with apparent unfeigned interest, what the defeat at Nottingham Forest had been like to watch.

Norwich City has had its fair share of good solid blokes over the years. The current captain Russell Martin will stop for a long chat about life in general before and after interviews while ex-manager Chris Hughton’s sacking was so badly received by the wider football world in April because of his unflappable ability to be nice, even in the face of crushing defeat.

Then there’s the affable Adrian Forbes, our sometime match summariser on BBC Radio Norfolk.

If I had to narrow the search for the Nicest Man in Football down to four contenders, I think it would be them. I was thinking of running a competition to decide the title once and for all, but I imagine they’d each insist one of the others should win it.

Carlos Cuellar, Ignasi Miquel and Jos Hooiveld all came in to stiffen up a defence lacking the injured Ryan Bennett.

However, the two Spanish amigos have rarely featured. In fact, Cuellar’s place in the starting line-up at Nottingham Forest 10 days ago, which was going so well for 85 minutes, marks the only bit of Championship action between them. By comparison, Hooiveld is something of a flying Dutchman, amassing a relatively impressive five league appearances at the heart of the City defence.

For the record, the loan signing from Southampton is yet to taste defeat for Norwich. Those five league starts have resulted in three away wins and two draws at Carrow Road.

Time and time again fans have phoned-in, Tweeted and bashed out the following question on their keyboard: “Why did we sign those three defenders if they’re not going to play?” The usefulness of having Ignasi Miquel has now become clear. His ability in an actual Canary shirt may only have been seen in the League Cup defeat at Shrewsbury, but it’s a different story when it comes to slipping on the club’s official leisurewear.

The 22-year old’s Mediterranean good looks have been put to use in the latest advert for the club shop.

If you were lucky, a copy of the new Carrow Road catalogue may have fallen out of the middle of your EDP one day last week.

If you didn’t recognise the fashionably-bearded figure, hands on hips, gazing into the middle distance as he casually leans on a stone wall on the back page of the brochure, then you obviously weren’t at Shrewsbury. That is the lesser-spotted Miquel.

The dashing defender is not alone.

He’s joined on the front cover of the Canaries Official Winter Collection by Nathan Redmond (black baseball cap on back to front), Jonny Howson (hands in pockets of smart double breasted coat) and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe (black coat, baseball cap on the right way round with ‘OTBC’ motif on the front) as they apparently share a joke during a walk on a bracing winter’s morning, having kitted themselves out entirely in the club’s official leisurewear.

I hope a copy of the catalogue doesn’t find its way into the Brighton dressing room on Saturday. It’s not the sort of image that will strike fear into opposition hearts. The heat of Championship battle isn’t really the place for smart casual leisurewear.

We want our players to appear snarling down the camera, with rippling muscles bursting out of their clothes, not leaning on a fence with a faraway smile on their face. We want passion over pouting, substance over style, Man of the Match over Man at C and A.

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