Michael Bailey: I can hear Steven Naismith from the press box – and that’s why he will prove a key man in Norwich City’s Championship recovery; plus here’s to Josh Murphy’s good news

Steven Naismith has a quiet word with Josh Murphy during the game against Bristol City earlier in th

Steven Naismith has a quiet word with Josh Murphy during the game against Bristol City earlier in the season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Maybe it's the lukewarm atmosphere we've had at Carrow Road. Maybe it's someone taking a bit of ownership, when others had previously read the body language as more damaging than productive.

But then, even when asked to give three words his team-mates would use to describe him, one of them was 'angry'.

Step forward Steven Naismith – with a voice you can pick out easily from 50 yards. He'll make someone a great manager one day.

I've asked a lot of questions in the last few years. The same themes tend to pop up from time to time, especially if the underlying problems don't go away.

It was almost 18 months ago I remember asking Norwich City boss Alex Neil about the level and effectiveness of his side's communication on the pitch. Quiet and in need of improvement was his verdict.

Steven Naismith led by example again for Norwich City, in their home win over Wolves. Picture by Pau

Steven Naismith led by example again for Norwich City, in their home win over Wolves. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd


You may also want to watch:


That was on the way to Championship promotion. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then – to the point where the bridge needs some serious repairs.

Naismith arrived at Carrow Road on January 18 last year. His excellent debut – perhaps the benchmark he's still trying to match – came in the most galling of games, as City snatched defeat from the jaws of both victory and dramatic comeback draw.

Most Read

But the Scot's post-match interview was memorable too.

'If we'd had a bit more communication within the team, we maybe hold that 3-1 lead longer, which makes it a bit more nervous for Liverpool and the game is totally different,' Naismith told me back then.

'But that wasn't the case and that's probably the biggest thing we will be disappointed with…I just think when you lose that many goals in a game then that (lack of communication) is going to play its part and that's why it's happening.'

A year on, and there's a debate to be had on how much City have actually improved that communication – but what has been clear this season is Naismith can help raise the level.

In fact in recent months he's shouted, harangued, pulled, shaken his head, prodded, argued and ultimately, cared. A lot. Almost too much, given he helped earn that bonus game on the south coast that did little for anyone – maybe apart from Ben Godfrey.

It's the Championship devil City have missed, and now maybe an acknowledgement it's the only thing that will lift them out of their mediocrity.

It's just a shame they needed such an unnecessary lesson in the first place.

There are currently a few names you would scrawl on the City team sheet first – and Naismith is right in among them.

Keep it up Steven, your team-mates need it more than ever.

• First things first, Josh Murphy joining his twin in signing a new long-term deal with Norwich is superb news.

There's no doubting what both twins can produce with a ball at their feet. Josh and Jacob's record of goals and assists puts some very expensive footballers to shame.

But there has also been a clear distinction between how the pair have taken on board the protective side of their roles – something I remember Chris Hughton talking about; as did Neil Adams while still Under-18s boss.

Josh has acknowledges himself how hard Alex Neil has worked him on improving his defensive mindset, and how he needed it. There were positive signs at Southampton – as well as others pointing to there still being work to do.

But the fact he now gets to do that at his boyhood club, alongside his twin brother, is what everyone wanted. Here's to City reaping the rewards in years to come.

• It's the last week of transfer activity this season coming up.

So make sure you join me and Darren Eadie for a live Pink Un Show on Tuesday from 10.30pm, on our YouTube, Freeview and Virgin channels.

It'll be a lively one, whether anything actually happens or not.

• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey and Facebook @mbjourno

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus