Would a few of the young guns do Norwich City any fewer favours?
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Ever had one of those weeks where so many things get your goat you just don't know where to begin? It all started with too much thinking time on a drive to Heathrow. I won't bore you with the details – I will reserve that for the Highways Department who are now the recipients of the Lakey Guide To Improving British.
But sitting on your backside for hour upon hour with a Range Rover for company in lane four and an Audi in lane two does make you think about footballers…
Firstly, whatever happened to …
Luciano Becchio, who came to Carrow Road in an exchange deal with Steve Morison in January.
Why? Presumably the answer is that Chris Hughton was so eager to get rid of Morison that he would take anyone in return – and the fact Leeds were, for some reason, happy to allow him to leave and that it was one striker for another, made it a simple decision. What I don't understand is why he has started just two games and is still around? He is so far down the pecking order, Punxsutawney Phil makes more appearances.
Presumably he was brought into the fold because Hughton liked the cut of his jib. Then when he arrived, things changed.
For the sake of his sanity I'd suggest a loan at the start of the season would do him good.
- 1 Blaze sees 20 passengers evacuated from city bus
- 2 First-time publicans transform their local and are already winning awards
- 3 John Bailey: Lord Botham, our cricketing angler/conservationist
- 4 Vehicles worth £50k stolen from Royal Norfolk Show
- 5 'Significant construction' on A47 to begin in 2023
- 6 All of the Norfolk streets that won the Postcode Lottery in June
- 7 Parked cars prevent buses from serving north Norfolk village
- 8 Primary school left without governors after mass walkout
- 9 Farmers could be paid to leave fields fallow to end homes limbo
- 10 Buses damaged in city centre collision
I'll move quickly on, because my ire is starting to go again…
Jacob Butterfield. Signed by Hughton on July 3, 2012 – a month after Hughton joined City. Presumably he was a Hughton signing. But he made zero league starts and is now a Middlesbrough player. How do you get it so wrong?
I'll skip the bit where Richard Wright's name came up on my cerebral screen (he is a Manchester City goalkeeper and his last game was two years ago – what in earth is that all about?)
The thing is, that Becchio, Butterfield and Wright are all players who are, or have been, seriously under-used, for whatever reason. Perhaps a manager doesn't fancy them or perhaps there is a general lack of ambition and a contentment to just collect a decent salary and accept your fate without a whimper. Or a combination of all three.
The next step in the thought process (and this came at the same time as the realisation that the Heathrow trip was going to be a waste of time given I had 20 miles to do and three minutes in which to do it in) led me to the Norwich City FA Youth Cup squad. I believe I am correct in saying that the only member of that cup-winning squad to have appeared for City's first team is Josh Murphy, who had 45 minutes against Manchester City last week – and, from what I saw, rose above most of the detritus around him.
I don't for one moment think you could drop half of the youth team into the first team squad and not still have problems, but with City embarrassing all and sundry, does it not highlight a short-coming: that those lads might just have infused some get up and go in a squad which looks at times as if it has got up and gone?
Some of the young lads train with the first team, but if Becchio is going to sit on the bench and not stir for 90 minutes, save the occasional trot up the touchline where even his own supporters sing 'Who are you, who are you?', Why not put Carlton Morris there instead? He's a hulking great lad, with good skills, and a calm assurance who caught everyone's eyes during last season's run.
Kyle McFadden and Harry Toffolo look like a decent pair of central defenders: if you are going to surrender without a whimper at Old Trafford in the Capital One Cup, do it with those lads in the team. Will it knock their confidence? Not any more than it would a senior player.
Cameron McGeehan looked a lovely player – give him a go, why not?
I can't buy this theory that they are too young, too inexperienced. Josh Murphy proved a week ago that you can go and strut your stuff.
Yes, there are rough edges, but show me a first team player who is nicely rounded and above reproach right now.
I suppose it's a case of, they can't be any worse. And they can't.
I just hope that they are not wasted. Year after year players come through the ranks and then depart. Josh Dawkin, Robert Eagle, Joe Lewis, to a lesser extent Chris Martin. The young buck appears to stop at the first team.
• Peterborough United owner Darragh MacAnthony used his Twitter account to describe his team's performance in the home defeat by Leyton Orient a week ago as 'disgraceful'.
Posh are third in League One and lost to the team who are top and generally considered to be a very, very good outfit. It happens, better teams generally win.
Meanwhile, a couple of Norwich City players have been known to use the same medium just as indiscriminately.
Bradley Johnson rolled out the 'old chestnut' line after City drew 0-0 at home to Cardiff a fortnight ago.
This is how it went...
Johnson: 'Says a lot when keeper gets MoM, another day we would have scored 3 or 4, that's football!! Some fans need 2 get behind the team n stop booing.'
Fan: 'We are the ones who pay to watch, we have a right to voice our opinion'.
Johnson: 'ooooo here we go 'I pay your wages' didn't take long for that to come!!! Grow up'.
Well here's a thing, the fans do pay the wages. If City's fans had deserted them pre-Lambert they wouldn't have been in League One, they probably wouldn't have been in existence. They might just be AFC Norwich City playing non-league football. But the fans didn't. They stuck with the club, they paid their money and the good times returned.
They continued to pay up when the ticket prices increased, but their salaries didn't. They can't negotiate new deals without being laughed out of their manager's office.
Not a good idea to bite the hand that feeds.
• I can't help thinking that somewhere at the FA, tucked away in a draw, is a bank book marked Current Account (fines) which is to English football what Fort Knox is to the state of Kentucky.
I have no idea what they do with the money, but I'd like to suggest the fines department is taken over by the government – that way we can save a couple of shipyards and build hospitals in every town in the country.
It's easy to raise cash: just keep the footballing rulebook as vague and inconsistent as it currently is; that way, footballers, or football teams, can be fined huge amount of money without actually knowing what they have done wrong.
Norwich City and Cardiff added £40,000 to the coffers this week. For a scuffle. No punches thrown, no boots in the nether regions. Just a bit of handbags. Nothing compared to one or two incidents you'll see down Prince of Wales Road tonight.
I can't say I like to see aggression on the pitch, especially when a football isn't involved, but to dish out a pair of £20,000 fines for the events that followed Leroy Fer's goal that wasn't a couple of weeks ago, is criminal in itself. Pathetic. Forty grand!
How does the FA arrive at these figures? In an arena where tens of thousands of people are allowed in by football clubs and then proceed to abuse the you know what's out of anyone not in their team colours, yet when there is a tiff, the FA judges it to be a major misdemeanour and get all heavy handed. It just doesn't add up. Not that the FA is responsible for the fans, but it does highlight the incongruity of it all.
• That man Les King is at it again – writing books and raising money for charity, neither of which can be a bad thing.
King of Sport 4 is being launched on November 29 at Wymondham Town Hall, from 4-7pm, with the proceeds going to his Star Throwers charity.
Les has a huge reserve of stories about local sports, and even manages to get a mention of yours truly in there somewhere. Hope it's a nice one, Mr King.