Norwich City must go back to the future to rekindle team spirit

There seems very little team spirit among City players. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

There seems very little team spirit among City players. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited +447814 482222

It may seem strange to take inspiration from the Norwich City Christmas video of 1989 as we prepare for the almost inevitable new chapter in the club’s history.

Of the week...

Morris is shining light in the current gloom

HERO OF THE WEEK: There aren’t too many City players who are fighting to claim my hero gong. So as the clouds gather over Carrow Road, young striker Carlton Morris is providing a ray of sunlight. He has scored three times in the last two under-23s games. Why not give him a chance in the first team?

Under-23s are certainly showing how to do it

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: I mentioned Carlton Morris above and he and his team-mates in the under-23s are showing how it’s done. They followed up their excellent 3-0 win over Celtic with a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa. Young Morris may not be the only one knocking on the first team door.

Yellow card was so harsh for Maddison

VILLAIN OF THE WEEK: I’m pleased to hear that Aberdeen are lodging an appeal against the yellow card given to City loanee James Maddison. The ref accused him of cheating when booking him for “diving”. It was a ridiculous decision and has to be overturned.

Yes, it really was so much easier to score

FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE WEEK: We’ve all seen some pretty awful misses over the years. But footage (which I’ve tweeted) of a Serbian player blazing over the bar from almost on the line is both hilarious and unbelievable. It’s a must see.

I bet Johnno will net – and get a booking

PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: So Bradley Johnson was rested last week as he was on four yellow cards and Derby didn’t want to risk him missing this week’s game. I bet he picks up his fifth booking against City – and scores.

Alex Neil is currently still in the manager’s office. His days, though, are surely numbered.

I’ve made my views very clear on what I feel the board needs to do to halt the dramatic decline in the club’s fortunes.

While Neil has felt the full force of the fans’ wrath, the players can in no way escape criticism.

Several are internationals, plenty of them have top-flight experience and they all get very handsomely rewarded.

Neil has a vital role in getting the best out of them and creating a team.

Those men, however, must take responsibility in giving their all and using their undoubted talents when they cross the white line.

Going back to the festive video from 27 years ago (which popped up on Twitter this week), it showed me a critical ingredient currently missing for City – team spirit.

Of course things weren’t perfect for the squad of ‘89.

However, those boys (and successful other teams since) had a tangible togetherness.

The video showed the great story of Dean Coney having to dress up and take Christmas turkeys to all the other players and sing a festive song to their children after losing a football/golf contest.

There was banter galore with plenty of big characters and those guys – such as Andy Townsend, Robert Fleck, Robert Rosario and Bryan Gunn – clearly had a bond.

That resulted in a team which went to Anfield and secured a 0-0 draw against a Liverpool team who had just scored nine goals against Palace.

They beat Chelsea 2-0 (and the Blues boss said City were the best team he’d faced that season). They played fabulous, fast-paced football in a 2-2 draw with Spurs and dug in in epic fashion to earn a 4-4 draw against Southampton.

Were those players better on paper than today’s squad?

You could ask the same question about many Norwich City teams since then.

I still maintain Norwich have a squad more than able to bounce back.

However, unless that spirit can be rekindled, we’ll drift in to Championship mediocrity.

Simple maths proves how badly we’re missing Jonny and Ivo

One man doesn’t make a team. And in fact two men don’t make one either.

However, there’s no doubting how much City are missing Jonny Howson and Ivo Pinto.

Among the many things I’ve spoken to fellow Canary fans about in recent days, the impact of last year’s player of the season and the marauding full-back has been a topic of much debate.

So to see just how much the duo really mean to our team, I did a bit of maths and worked out how many points we earned with and without them.

And the result of my research was much, much starker than I had anticipated.

Pinto has played in 12 of the 17 league games this season. All eight wins came with him in the side with three of the others being draws, plus the defeat at Newcastle.

Even more telling is that the five matches Pinto has missed have all been defeats.

As for Howson, he has played in 11 league games, seven of which have been wins, two ended in a draws and two were reversals. As if I have to spell it out any clearer, all 27 points have come with Pinto in the team and 23 have been racked up with Howson playing.

Is that just a coincidence? I tend to think not and just can’t wait for them both to return.

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