Chris Lakey: Norwich City showing a welcome united front

PUBLISHED: 13:02 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:02 21 September 2018

Alex Tettey speaks to Marco Stiepermann - this time after his run created the winning goal at Reading Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Tettey speaks to Marco Stiepermann - this time after his run created the winning goal at Reading Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Daniel Farke’s inclusion of four young players for the midweek trip to Reading has raised spirits among the supporters.

Coach Daniel Farke gives City fans the thumbs up at Reading Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdCoach Daniel Farke gives City fans the thumbs up at Reading Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

That Farke named Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis, Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell in his starting XI was down to several factors, not least the fact they are good players who were the best options open to him.

The latter reason, of course, is also a case of needs must: many managers would be reluctant to put their faith in such inexperience but, obviously, Farke has a tough hand from which to choose his best cards.

When a young Chris Martin burst on to the scene in the early months of 2007, it was due to the fact that £3.5m striker Rob Earnshaw was injured. Farke doesn’t have the luxury of a £3.5m striker. These youngsters aren’t waiting in the wings, they are playing on them.

Fortunately, I think City fans have accepted the predicament the club has found itself in and understand the need to make the most of their assets: the futures market suggests Maddison-style sales in the future. It’s business, it’s the footballing fact of life for Norwich City. But, like Maddison, we should enjoy it while we can. It should be a matter of pride for fans that their club is helping nurture good young players – and if you watched the midweek game (sadly, I had to do so on the ‘red button’) you will have noticed something else: that their integration into the big bad world of Championship football is being carefully watched by their peers.

While the red button’s single-camera policy is frustrating, it wasn’t enough to disguise the excellent work by the like of Alex Tettey, Timm Klose and Tim Krul, who all, without exception, were quick to lend a guiding hand when needed. If someone made an error, there was a quick pat of the back, a word in the ear; a good tackle got a thumbs-up, a hand slap. There were few angry words, just words of encouragement. Youngsters need that because, as the cliche goes, they will learn from their mistakes. And they will learn an awful lot better if they are show respect rather than bawled at (back to Chris Martin who, of course, was all but bombed out by a manager who referred to him as either Tweedledee or Tweedledum).

The bond between team-mates was there for all to see – with the quality of resources perhaps a little thinner than fans would like, that is going to be vital for the rest of the season. Teams do win things, rather than individuals.

The other vital bond is, of course, between team and fans, and it’s again clear that particular strand is stronger than it was. Farke’s post-match fist-pumping appreciation of the travelling supporters (who, by the way, came across very loud and clear, despite the best efforts of the constant groans of the Reading fans) illustrated that well.

It’s chicken and egg, is it up to the fans to cheer on the team or the team to spur the fans into supportive action... but whatever, once both are working together you know you are doing something right,

Reflecting on the home win over Middlesbrough a week ago, columnist Robin Sainty says in today’s column in the Pink Un: “The fact that City refused to be intimidated or to deviate from their game plan resulted in an afternoon that saw the bond between the players and the Carrow Road crowd reforged as the effort on the pitch was reciprocated in the stands, and long may that continue.”

Quite right.

If this is all going to work, the fans need to be kept onside. To do that the players and coach need to show complete commitment, matching that of the fans (tick). The team has to win (tick, occasionally) and those young players have to be treated properly by all – fans and players (tick).

Great, great player

Never met Kevin Beattie – but I didn’t have to, to know how highly he was regarded in this part of the country.

Even Norwich City fans of the brightest yellow and green persuasion would have been hard-pressed to say anything negative about the former Ipswich Town and England defender, who died this week at the age of 64.

Beattie was a magnificent defender, whose career was ended early by injury. He could do it all: tough as they come, but he was great in the air, good with his feet, very quick, cool under pressure, a terrific passer with a great left foot. He had everything.

“He was quite annoying because everything came so easy for him,” said his former team-mate Roger Osborne. “He was just stronger, fitter and better than anyone else he didn’t have to try.”

I couldn’t leave him out of a combined Norwich-Ipswich ‘Derby’ team. Ipswich fans regularly vote him their greatest ever player and he just might be the greatest of all those who competed in the regular East Anglian matches.

Taste for success

Can’t say that sporting nicknames have always sat comfortably with me.

If you are a boxer then perhaps being Bonecrusher rather than just plain James Smith is a sign of confidence ... or an over-inflated ego.

Joes, as in Frazier, often appear to be Smokin’. Thomas Hearns was The Hitman because it was alliterative, and Robert Duran was known as Hands of Stone, but I doubt anyone ever said ‘hello, Hands of Stone, how’s tricks?”

Better, though, than Chuck Wepner, known as the Bayonne Bleeder for his frequently bloodied face – a face which, incidentally, once needed more than 70 stitches in it after a bout against Sonny Liston.

But if you’re going to have any sort of nickname, for reasons of bravado, it has to be decent. There is a Nottingham boxer who goes by the name of Paul ‘the Meatball’ Thompson. I can only assume it’s an old nickname – surely it can’t be one made up to scare the living daylights out of opponents.

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