April 20 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 19, 2013
You don’t have to bring me socks for Christmas this year. You can send the shower gel and deodorant gift pack to someone else.
That’s because all I want for Christmas is related to my beloved Canaries. If you could please make the following happen I promise to be nice not naughty all year round - and I’ll even stick another sherry by the fireplace for when you pop round on December 25.
City fans are in what can be best described as ‘a bit of a funk’ at this moment in time. The atmosphere at the last few home games has been sterile and it takes little for the fans to get on the backs of players and management. Yet our Premier League status and position in the table would probably make a lot of opposition fans question why? Rightly or wrongly I think supporters want to feel more entertained for their money and while I’ve not come away from Carrow Road feeling short-changed in recent weeks, some clearly do. What better then than a few high-scoring thrillers over the festive period?
MAKE SUBS COUNT
One of the key strengths under Paul Lambert, was to realise that 14 players can make a real difference to a game, not just the starting 11. I’m not sure Chris Hughton and his team aspire to this notion. All too often Norwich’s substitutions come too late in the game and seem to be in response to a negative situation.
END AWAY DAY BLUES
Last year’s game at Sunderland (our opponents this weekend) was one of those all too rare occasions where Norwich came out all guns blazing away from home. City went 1-0 up, but then a Mark Bunn sending off scuppered the plans, although Norwich battled out a decent 1-1 draw. What a great early Christmas present it would be to see Norwich play the same way again on Saturday, and with some belief in 2014 that we can leave Carrow Road and still afford to try for a win.
The team-sheet on Sunday left me as disappointed as I have been in recent weeks, due to the omission of Irish wizard Wes Hoolahan. Clearly the inclusion of three central midfielders was designed to nullify Swansea’s passing, but I’d argue that at home the tactics should be more offensive than that. After single-handedly running the first half against Crystal Palace, Hoolahan must seriously be wondering if it’s time for a move elsewhere to get regular football. It’s the least he deserves - I just wish it would come here not somewhere else.
FREE THE SHACKLES
The fairly bog standard 2010/11 2-1 away victory against Derby County during the Championship promotion season has always stuck in my memory. The reason is I can remember being blown away that day by the performance of the midfield, containing Hoolahan, David Fox, Andrew Crofts and Henri Lansbury. During that game the four of them were everywhere, repeatedly swapping positions with ease to flummox the home side. If one went forward, another stayed back. If one went left, another slotted into their position. At times this season it’s been frustrating that the midfield has not been more versatile. We’ve seen more signs of that in the last few weeks, in particular Nathan Redmond and Hoolahan at Palace and the midfield four against West Brom away. More of it please.
A FIT GARY HOOPER
What a stunning start he’s had to his Canary career. A real old-fashioned gaol poacher, but willing to work hard outside the box as well, as was shown with his dismantling of Ashley Williams to create a chance against Swansea. Keep him fit please Santa.
ALONGSIDE A FIT RICKY
No doubt we are about to hear the usual platitudes of Ricky Van Wolfswinkel’s return being akin to ‘a new signing’. However, I do agree that his lay off may turn into a positive in that the pressure on him to score instantly may be lessened thanks to Hooper’s emergence. We should only judge the Dutch striker on his second season, as history often shows it can take a while for foreign recruits to adapt to our game. I can’t wait to see Hooper and Van Wolfswinkel up top together.
MAKE HIM CAPTAIN MARVELLOUS
On his best days Sebastien Bassong is one of the best centre backs in the league - but all too often his lapses of concentration come at key moments and lead to goals. On Sunday for the Swansea goal he looked like he was trying to be too clever and let the ball run through to John Ruddy. This is probably why his career at Spurs didn’t really take off. Fix this one fault, however, and we have a top class player on our books.
If the cheque book is coming out in January Let’s sign a central defender to push Bassong and Michael Turner and a central midfielder for cover.
THAT ELUSIVE CUP RUN
If Hughton wants to know how to pull the fans out of their aforementioned funk I’m pretty sure a decent FA Cup run would do the job.
IPSWICH TOWN SUCCESS
Yes, you read that right, I want Ipswich Town to go up. We miss the added spice of our twice seasonal battles.
PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL
We all like a moan about Norwich City, but the Premier League is clearly still the place to be. A year in the Championship might excite City fans, but you can be certain more than one wouldn’t. That’s my final Christmas wish, I do hope you can fit all this in my stocking.
MERRY CHRISTMAS! There’s so much sport on the agenda over the next few weeks I’ve been given a mid-winter break by the sports editor. With that in mind now seems the perfect time to wish you a great Christmas and New Year. And while I’m feeling warm and fuzzy, thank you for reading me in 2013, I hope you feel interested to do the same next year.