Norwich City aren’t making it easy for those with a bone to pick
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Ten points from five games should go down as a thoroughly decent start to the Championship season for Norwich City.
Especially when you take into account an East Anglian derby win achieved amidst the uncertainty of the post-Premier League blues, an opening day defeat and the work in progress nature of the City squad until the transfer window finally closed.
But I am a football supporter and it is not my job to be so relaxed about the bigger picture. We are supposed to be in a constant state of mild panic. Even when things seem to be going well on the pitch it's a fan's job to find something to fret about. This was illustrated perfectly by the first caller to BBC Radio Five Live's phone-in on Sunday evening. He was an Arsenal supporter who used the word 'embarrassing' to describe his side's 1-1 draw at a spirited Leicester City, for whom the novelty value of Premier League football is far from wearing off. The Grumpy Gunner followed this up with a complaint that, although Arsenal won the FA Cup in May, they didn't beat Hull City by a big enough margin in the final for his liking. Oh to have their problems.
Inspired by Irritated of Islington I have been wracking my brains to think of something Norwich City related to moan about. The list has been as long as one of John Ruddy's arms over the past couple of seasons, but the promising start to this campaign has made it harder for the habitual nit-picker to find something juicy to chew on.
So I am going to have to go with short corners.
Michael Turner has probably been Norwich City's most impressive individual performer during these opening weeks of the season. My heart bleeds for him every time he has to lumber up to the opposition's penalty area to try to get his head on a set-piece. At least two or three times each game one of our 'tricky' attackers, often Wes Hoolahan (inset) but he's not the only culprit, will try something clever and knock the ball along the ground to his nearest team-mate. It's designed to catch the opposition out, but usually ends up with an over-complication, a mis-placed pass and then a mad panic to get everyone back before the opposition can counter-attack.
When this happens one can sense the slump in the shoulders of Turner, who now hasn't scored for 16 months, as he begins that 100-yard plod back towards his own box without getting the merest hint of mud from the ball on his forehead.
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Call me uncultured, old-fashioned or just plain ugly, you wouldn't be the first, but I can't recall Norwich ever scoring from a short corner.
I'm sure they must have done at some point, but as far as I'm concerned there is no substitute for just getting it in the mixer. Championship success is built around scruffy goals off defenders' backsides and they count just as much as any bamboozling well-crafted silky skills. It's churlish to complain too much after such an encouraging first month of the season, but players like Turner and central defensive partner Russell Martin need to be given the opportunity to weigh in with a few goals of their own if City are to score enough to secure an automatic return to the top flight.
Lewis Grabban has scored five of City's eight Championship goals so far and, as good a record as that is, Neil Adams will be keen to see the former Bournemouth man's team-mates take some of the goal-getting burden.
The Canaries have tended to start games with Nathan Redmond, Kyle Lafferty and Hoolahan in attack behind Grabban and as well as they have played at times they are yet to score a single goal between them. That has to change.
Hang on, that's two things I've found to complain about. It's amazing how readily the old moaning muscles can be flexed when you really try. Football supporting isn't the same unless something's churning your stomach, but it's only because we care. At least we're not as badly off as Arsenal with all that annoying Champions League football to prepare for while they languish in seventh place in the Premier League.