Defenders need to keep chipping in with goals to keep Canaries play-off push on track
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Timm Klose's goal against Birmingham City on Saturday was a landmark moment in Norwich City's season and not just because of the harrowing assault the big defender carried out on the corner flag by way of eccentric celebration.
That goal was the first in the Championship this season scored by a Norwich centre back and the first in any league game since Klose scored in the dramatic 3-2 win over Newcastle in April last year. That was almost nine months, 35 league games and a relegation ago.
It may seem churlish to draw attention to a lack of goals coming from Canaries defenders given that their main job is to stop them going in at the other end but anyone who remembers Steve Bruce powering home a late header against Ipswich Town in the 1985 Milk Cup semi-final, Malky Mackay's numerous crucial strikes or Michael Nelson's League One promotion clincher at Charlton in 2010 will tell you that getting on the end of a set-piece in the opposition box a few times a season is a very useful knack for a central defender to have.
Such goals at Carrow Road in recent years have been as rare as a Premier League team naming a full strength line-up in the FA Cup. With two goals in 35 matches, Klose is very much the in-form goal scoring central defender for Norwich City at the moment.
Russell Martin has been a useful contributor to the 'Goals For' column over the years but he hasn't netted in the league since that famous equaliser at Anfield 16 months ago when he scored after a run which started that morning in the delivery suite at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital when he was present at the birth of his son.
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In fairness, he did manage a goal in the 6-1 demolition of Coventry in the League Cup earlier this season and looked to have scored against Cardiff in the Championship a few weeks later only for Jonny Howson to apply a finishing prod just to make sure.
City's other two centre backs can't claim any mitigating circumstances. Sebastien Bassong's only league goal since December 2012 was a late Hail Mary against Liverpool last January when he was thrown forward as an extra striker in an attempt to wrestle a 4-4 draw. He did just that only to see Jurgen Klopp's team find the time to score again. Ryan Bennett hasn't been able to celebrate a goal since January 2014 when he got what seemed a vital late winner to beat Hull City 1-0 at Carrow Road under Chris Hughton.
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According to the Footcharts website Norwich City had won 156 corners in the league this season before they took on Birmingham.
Given that they will have sent at least two big defenders lumbering forward for the vast majority of those it seems a real missed opportunity that they are having to trot back the full length of the pitch so often without having scored.
Granted, some of those set plays will have led to goals from other players but the lack of central defenders on the scoresheet may say as much about the quality of the delivery into the box as it does about the clinical instincts of Klose, Bassong, Bennett or Martin. What really stood out about that goal on Saturday was the delicious free-kick played into the danger zone by Robbie Brady.
Scoring goals hasn't been a massive problem at home for Norwich City this season, only table-topping Brighton have got more in front of their own fans but with the race for the play-offs intensifying and managers often remarking on the 'fine margins' between Championship success and failure, there is one potential stream of goals that City could do with tapping into more often.
Saturday was the perfect example of how a simple goal like that can turn a nervy 1-0 lead into a more comfortable 2-0 and make games less close. Or should that be Klose?
The Carrow Road tunnel wasn't the place to be on Saturday evening for a hypochondriac.
I'd been in there for a good 30 minutes, waiting for Alex Neil to emerge from a triumphant home dressing room, before the Norwich manager revealed details of the sickness bug that had swept through his squad in the days leading up to the game against Birmingham.
I immediately started trying to remember whose hands I'd shaken in the post-match melee that is the corridor close to the changing room of a winning team.
I had felt absolutely fine until that point but for some reason, whenever people start to tell me how ill they have been, I start to assume I must have caught it too but so far so good.
The Norwich nausea made that performance against Birmingham all the more pleasing. I have only ever suffered from that sort of sickness bug once before and, without wishing to be too graphic, it was enough to make me miss commentating on a game never mind playing in it.
Goalscorer Cameron Jerome has complained that playing up front by himself can sometimes leave him a little isolated from his team mates during a game.
This may have been one week when that wasn't such a bad thing. It may also explain why Timm Klose chose to cuddle the corner flag in celebration of his goal rather than risk getting a hug or a kiss off any queasy Canaries.
News of the bug must also have spread to the Birmingham dressing room. Why else would they have left Klose so emphatically unmarked to score that crucial second goal?
Of course the whole thing could be an elaborate hoax to get through the final few days of the transfer window.
What better way to put the Premier League vultures off preying on your best players than by sending out vibes that they're probably infected by some sort of awful stomach bug so by signing them you could be inviting a terrible illness into your dressing room.