Norwich City can’t afford to be one-hit wonders

Nelson Oliveira celebrates bagging his first goal in the league for City against Brenford. Picture b

Nelson Oliveira celebrates bagging his first goal in the league for City against Brenford. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

We'll start with 'Never Gonna Give You Up' by Rick Astley, then have a bit of The Human League's 'Don't You Want Me?' before the perfect segue into the Fine Young Cannibals smash hit 'Good Thing'.

That is one Noddy Holder away from the sort of thing you'll be hearing at office Christmas parties across Norfolk this month but it is also, I can exclusively reveal, part of the playlist used to celebrate a long awaited victory in the Norwich City dressing room.

I know because I heard it. This season, our post-match interviews at Carrow Road have been conducted in a little room along the corridor that runs between the dressing rooms and the tunnel. There's no chance of anyone with a camera or microphone earwigging any of the team talk, don't worry about that.

An assortment of Norwich City staff members, some wearing smart suits, others in tracksuits but all sporting the club badge and a magic pass that gets them access to the most sacred area of the ground, are on hand to ensure that those of us there to gather the manager's thoughts are safely corralled into a windowless room no bigger than your average downstairs toilet. It may not be the sort of behind-the-scenes glamour people envisage when they dream about a career in the media but it is at least nice and handy for Alex Neil to be brought to us once he has gathered his composure enough to agree to have a microphone put under his nose and this week's 'What went wrong or right?' questions lobbed in his direction.

It's usually around 5.30 by the time he appears which means a good half an hour waiting around in that little room staring at the white walls.


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Again, sorry if this doesn't play up to the bright lights, fine wines and Belgian chocolates lifestyle that you imagined existed for those of us riding what Alan Partridge memorably called 'The BBC Gravy train'.

Having waited seven long weeks for a Norwich City win the mood in the tunnel was more jovial than it has been recently. Even those with the special passes afforded themselves relieved smiles that meant they no longer looked like the faces with stern expressions on their own ID badges. The air was filled with loud music in the way that hotels always are when you arrive, tired after a long journey, to find a wedding disco in full swing.

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It became apparent that some the biggest dancefloor fillers of the 1980s could only be emanating from the home dressing room.

It was a surprise to hear tunes of such vintage being used to toast a much needed win in the final month of 2016. It can't be the sort of music the players are listening to when they get off the bus with those big headphones can it?

Perhaps they had happened across an old cassette under one of the benches in the changing room that had dropped out of Steve Bruce's pocket when he had borrowed it from Wayne Biggins after his Walkman had chewed up his T'Pau tape.

It would be too cruel to suggest that those tunes were hits the last time Norwich City had won a game before Saturday.

I carried out the sort of half-baked enquiry that matters like this deserve when Alex Pritchard was brought to our Canary cupboard for a chat. The sheer mention of Rick Astley's name caused a look of panic in the former Tottenham player's eyes of the sort that Brentford's big clogging defenders failed to achieve all afternoon.

I don't think it was embarrassment about the choice of tunes in the dressing room, I got the impression that Pritchard, who was born some 16 years after 'Never Gonna Give You Up' charted didn't really know who Rick Astley is.

That's understandable but if the playlist we were accidentally treated to at the weekend is going to become the soundtrack to Norwich City wins from now on, I hope that Pritchard, The Murphys and co are word perfect by the end of the season.

We wouldn't want the 5-0 win over Brentford to be a one hit wonder after all.

Alex Pritchard's Canaries career takes off

One canary doesn't make a summer, as the old saying almost goes, but that win over Brentford could not have been better timed for Alex Neil.

It may also go down as the day that Alex Pritchard's Norwich City career properly started. There was much excitement when the Canaries pipped a number of Championship rivals, most notably Brighton, to sign Pritchard from Tottenham in the summer. A proven performer at this level, ironically with Brentford during a loan spell two season ago, many impartial observers felt that this was a signing that underlined Norwich's position as pre-season promotion favourites.

But not every new signing hits the ground running. For every Marc Libbra, who scored less than 15 seconds into his City debut, there are several Iwan Roberts, players who take a little while to establish themselves as a darling of The Barclay.

Pritchard's opening few weeks at Carrow Road were blighted by injury and when he did play he often found himself pushed out wide to accommodate Wes Hoolahan's purple patch which began with Ireland at Euro 2016.

City's longest serving player was quite rightly the man in possession of that 'behind the striker' position, a role which is now often referred to as the 'number 10' even in this squad number age, during Norwich's encouraging start to the season.

Pritchard's patience paid off on Saturday. Finally let of the lead in his preferred role he was one of the stand-out players against an admittedly shambolic Brentford side. But he'll have to keep it up to hold on to the shirt. Hoolahan's shadow loomed larger than his 5ft 6inch stature suggests from the bench, while Steven Naismith and James Maddison – who has been impressing on loan at Aberdeen – also covet that same position.

Alex Neil seems to have a penchant for signing players who like to work behind a striker. He's got more genuine contenders for number 10 than the next General Election will have.

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