Iwan Roberts: Never mind the quality feel the width for Canaries
Graham Lynch Photography
After yet another win on Wednesday night, Norwich travel to Rotherham in what could be a massive weekend for the Canaries.
While they play at The New York Stadium there’s a huge game up the M1 at Elland Road where second-placed Leeds welcome third-placed Sheffield United.
Norwich yet again need to take care of their business and not worry about results elsewhere. Personally, I’d like to see Leeds win, which would mean if Norwich beat Rotherham – which won’t be easy as they are fighting for their lives and have lost just once in their last eight Championship games – the gap between Sheffield United and Norwich would be seven points with just eight games to go.
In my opinion, in the form Norwich are in, there’s no chance Chris Wilder’s men are closing that.
And it’s getting to that stage of the season now that performances are not the most important thing.
When you’re top of the league fighting for automatic promotion back to the top flight of English football, when you’re within touching distance of achieving your goal... it is all about those precious three points and getting that much closer to winning promotion.
That was certainly was the case, in my opinion, on Friday night against Swansea. Not that Norwich played that badly – they just didn’t reach the heights regarding the levels of performance we’ve witnessed week in week out from them this season.
However, they found a way of winning and that’s all that counts right now. I look back at our Championship-winning season in 2003-04 and we’d have off days where the lads lacked the quality we’d shown most of the season, or we’d feel a bit leggy and tired, especially in those final couple of months of the season. But we’d roll our sleeves up, dig deep and of course we were lucky to have the best player in the league in our team in Darren Huckerby, who could always produce something out of nothing and win us the game.
I’ve seen Swansea a lot this season and that’s the best I’ve seen Graham Potter’s team play; from box to box I thought they were excellent the way they passed and moved the ball. They just lacked that clinical finish when they needed it. It didn’t help their cause when, after flying up with the rest of the squad from Cardiff on Thursday, their top scorer Oli McBurnie, who’d bagged eight goals in his previous 10 Championship games, was sent home with illness, a real body blow for The Swans. Dan James was outstanding for the visitors and was a constant threat with his pace and directness, but the closest he came to scoring was when keeper Tim Krul not once but twice took far too much time on the ball in his own penalty box when under real pressure from the young Welshman. And to think Swansea were prepared to sell Daniel to Norwich’s rivals Leeds for just £8.5m in the January transfer window – they might as well have given him away for that price. In my opinion in today’s transfer market he’s worth at least double what Leeds offered.
It was a cracking strike from Emi Buendia to win the game for Norwich – his first touch to move the ball away from Matt Grimes was excellent, but his finish was even better. On his weaker foot he’s smashed the ball on the half volley with so much power that Kristoffer Nordfeldt actually missed the ball – it was a goal worthy of winning any goal and reminded me of my penultimate goal in a yellow shirt away to Crewe back in 2004.
I couldn’t believe my eyes on Sunday watching the Second City derby when out of nowhere a Birmingham idiot (I cannot call him a fan) ran on to the pitch and punched Villa captain Jack Grealish to the ground. It was shocking and something we as football fans never want to see happen again.
That idiot was hell bent on causing damage to Grealish, who should have been safe while he was on the field of play, something I always felt. When I ran on to play a game of football, I never felt threatened or scared that someone might attack me while I was playing and no player should ever feel like that while playing the game he loves. That’s why the powers that be should do everything they can to make sure this type of incident never happens again. To be fair to Jack, he took it all in his stride and I, like many others, was delighted when he scored the winner in the 67th minute.