Michael Bailey: The wisdom of David Stringer leaves more than the odd question mark being raised against Norwich City, as they prepare to do battle with Ipswich Town once more

Timm Klose probably won't want to be reminded of his Burton outing  much like his Norwich City team

Timm Klose probably won't want to be reminded of his Burton outing much like his Norwich City team-mates. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

No excuses are required to hear from a Norwich City figure of such standing as David Stringer.

The 1967 Canaries, back row, left to right: Dave Stringer, Gordon Bolland, Laurie Brown, Kevin Keela

The 1967 Canaries, back row, left to right: Dave Stringer, Gordon Bolland, Laurie Brown, Kevin Keelan, Terry Allcock, Joe Mullett, Hugh Curran. Front: Mal Lucas, Mike Kenning, Don Heath, Laurie Sheffield, Tommy Bryceland, Terry Anderson. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

No excuses are required to hear from a Norwich City figure of such standing as David Stringer.

The former City player and manager – both to almost unparalleled success – should be marked as a special character, given he deserves to carry every superlative cliché often bandied around with distracting ease. Legend. Icon. Mr Norwich City.

However, last Saturday there was an excuse as Stringer spoke to us and BBC Radio Norfolk.

The 50th anniversary of a stellar City victory – maybe their greatest – when Norwich toppled a legendary Manchester United side at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

Former Norwich City manager David Stringer.

Former Norwich City manager David Stringer. - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


That City marked the occasion with their performance at Burton Albion, will still stick in the throat come Sunday's kick-off against their arch East Anglian rivals on Sunday.

'It was backs to the wall after we took the lead,' said Stringer, openly labelling Lol Morgan's City side ordinary.

Most Read

'In the second half we just brick-walled them, stopped everything. Kevin Keelan had a blinder on that day.

'He stopped everything that came at him and we all stopped the ball with every part of our body, be it our backside or the back of our head, whatever.'

Steven Naismith is back in contention for Ipswich Town after a hamstring injury.
Picture by Paul Ch

Steven Naismith is back in contention for Ipswich Town after a hamstring injury. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

MORE: Six things we learned from City's defeat at Burton

It's hard to hear Stringer describe City's efforts in 1967 and not picture either Timm Klose doing an impression of the statue Stringer should have in his name, or the space Michael Kightly was afforded as he lofted the Brewers' winner over John Ruddy.

And on that 1967 day in Manchester, a 23-year-old Stringer was facing George Best.

'I don't think Lol had to say very much to me before the game, other than play as we would normally do,' added Stringer.

'You can't legislate for how a player will play on the day. You have to be alert to whatever that player is going to do.

'You just accept it as it happens because you can't anticipate anything that might happen, particularly with George Best.'

Modern coaches may feel Stringer's words are a little dated given the preparation, briefings, video clips, tactical shapes and individual jobs on the pitch dished out to their players.

They may also feel Stringer's initial sentiments of simply throwing yourself in front of the ball a lot and being desperate to stop your opponents scoring are the easiest parts of the game.

The question is, if they are the easiest, should they not be the first to master?

Likewise you can look at the way City have defended in the last two seasons and question whether in fact, Norwich lack the defensive nous to react to what's happening directly in front of them – regardless how much time they spend learning which foot Yoan Gouffran prefers to cut inside with, or which striker won't leave his central channel.

And don't forget Stringer was an excellent manager in his own right, regardless of how you view that era of English football against its current cousin.

The damning reality of City's Championship season is they have scored more goals at home than anyone else. Only Newcastle have score more goals home and away: 62 to City's 58. Brighton are third on 54. And yet, Alex Neil's side are in the bottom six for goals conceded and in the bottom three for goals conceded away from home. In a direct comparison, they've shipped 47 – almost double what the Magpies have let through.

There have been resolute exceptions that have not come down to luck, any more than they have tended to come down to tactics or particular team selections and personnel.

All too often, it has simply come down to the will and awareness to defend. That's why just when City had an equaliser to match all the momentum in the world at Burton, they conceded a second goal four minutes later and never fully recovered.

That can happen on occasions. What's proving unforgiveable is that it keeps happening this season to the point it will cost them promotion, and it was just as much of an issue in the Premier League last term.

Come Sunday and the arrival of Mick McCarthy's rejuvenated Ipswich Town for an East Anglian derby, the fun stuff like scoring goals, letting Wes Hoolahan run rings around his man and forwards making incisive passes will take care of itself. It usually does for Norwich at this level.

But at the other end, there will be room for nothing but similar defensive resolve to that no doubt tremendous day in 1967.

• I for one will be hoping Steven Naismith will start Sunday's derby.

He's exactly the kind of player City could do with in that setting, he knows what a big derby atmosphere is like and his form just before his injury means City have missed him. Naisy, you're on.

• 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