Chris Goreham: James Maddison is on to a good thing with Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 14:30 06 February 2018
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Now that it’s February it feels safe to talk about James Maddison.
Describing him as Norwich City’s stand-out player this season is hardly ground breaking punditry.
It’s a bit like saying Manchester City look a good bet for the Premier League title but it’s only now that the transfer window has been closed firmly on those circling Premier League vultures that I can allow myself to fully enjoy watching James Maddison play for the Canaries.
Norwich fans have had their hearts broken before.
From Kevin Reeves to Dale Gordon, waving a tearful goodbye to a talismanic attacker just as they hit their peak is an occupational hazard that must be accepted when purchasing a Carrow Road season ticket.
We have learnt to treat the sale of a favourite player with all the defiance of Gloria Gaynor. Many City stars have turned around and walked out of the door but we have always ultimately survived.
That doesn’t mean that the Canary support isn’t sometimes afraid or petrified of an exciting new relationship being ended prematurely when the player realises he is very literally in a different league to us.
It’s an awful thing to be dumped by a much better looking partner before you have had a chance to introduce them to your friends but still being together beyond January means that we can talk more openly about how well it’s going with James Maddison.
The 21-year old is a special talent. Quite often young attacking players break into the first team and show flashes of brilliance and glimpses of their potential.
It is rare to see such a consistent high quality end product in someone so early in their career.
I am not sure Norwich City have had anyone who has looked this good this quickly since Craig Bellamy burst onto the scene in the late 1990s.
The young Welshman soon had the red nap sack on his back and headed off into the sunset, leaving in a big money transfer to one of the Premier League’s most established clubs, Coventry City.
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Maddison did the journey in reverse which shows how things have changed for the poor Sky Blues since the turn of the century.
Most Norwich City fans are still bracing themselves for what feels like the inevitable departure of Maddison at some point in the future.
When the time is right he will have a huge decision to make.
A brilliant 21-year old doesn’t always fulfil his potential. The best example of this in recent years is David Bentley who spent some time on loan with the Canaries from Arsenal at the start of his career.
Bentley was David Beckham’s heir apparent on the right hand side of England’s midfield. He retired in 2014 at the age of just 29 complaining that he had fallen out of love with football.
The career trajectories of Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair or Micah Richards should also serve as cautionary tales about getting lost in the system at big clubs.
It was interesting to see a bit of Huddersfield Town this week. The Terriers were beaten by Liverpool and Manchester United and in both games head coach David Wagner made late attacking changes in a bid to get his side back in the game.
Alex Pritchard, the high-profile Carrow Road departure that did happen last month, was left as an unused substitute in both games.
One of Norwich City’s best attacking talents sitting in a tracksuit.
It’s like giving someone an expensive ornament for Christmas and realising it’s gone straight into the cupboard under the stairs rather than on display as we’d assumed it would.
Norwich City fans must enjoy Maddison as much as they can while he’s here. It would be nice to think that he’ll realise he’s on to a good thing at Carrow Road too.
Laugh it up Tom...
The BBC is often accused of broadcasting too many repeats but the Radio Norfolk coverage of another 1-0 Norwich City victory doesn’t appear to have brought too many complaints from Canaries fans.
Saturday’s more-comfortable-than-the-scoreline-suggested win over Middlesbrough means that seven of Norwich’s 12 Championship wins this season have been 1-0. There have also been a couple of 2-1 victories so it’s clear that Daniel Farke’s tactics are more about holding what you have than trying to blow opponents away.
From the moment that Middlesbrough’s Rudy Gestede was sent-off for a challenge on Grant Hanley that left question marks as to what sort of a relationship they might have had while being team mates at Blackburn Rovers, the Canaries had Boro where they wanted them.
What happens on the training ground is one of football’s great mysteries but I imagine that shooting practice must be quite the spectacle at Colney these days. The other repetitive element of the current Norwich City team is the number of goals that are coming from outside the box.
It’s as if Farke has told his team to approach the Championship like a game of five or six-a-side football where players are usually not allowed to enter the opposition penalty area never mind score from such close range.
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Tom Trybull’s winner at the weekend threatens to break the Maddison Monopoly on the Goal of the Season competition at Norwich City. I haven’t had very many tap-ins to commentate on recently.
The German signed a new contract before the game and in our post-match interview I wondered whether he might have been in a better bargaining position to ask for a bit more money if he had waited until after his fine 25-yarder to put pen to paper on that deal. He did not laugh. I prefer to blame the language barrier rather than my poor sense of humour or timing but it’s not easy to come up with fresh, new original comedy on the spot.
The old ones are usually the best. And that is one of the reasons why the BBC is absolutely right to repeat some of the great old sitcoms have days gone by.