Lee Payne: City are in a spot of bother, but what a joy they are to watch
It’s a great debate to have in the pub or on a long car journey - what would you change about football to make it better?
Every now and again, a meeting of the International FA Board will be picked up by the media because a change to the laws of the game has been discussed.
People don’t like change. I’ve been through the tweets about some of the proposals. I get the feeling that some people would still like the game to be as it was when its laws were first written down back in 1863.
There are a couple of changes I would make. First, instead of reducing a team to 10 when a red card is shown, I’d force the manager to make a substitution. Replace the offender, use up one of their changes and if they’ve already made three then, only in that case, they are down a player.
This would remove the red carded player from the pitch but not change the dynamic of the game so much as to give one side such a big advantage. I also think goal kicks are a waste of time, so I’d find a way of livening them up. I just haven’t figured out how yet.
One of the most recent examples of an Ifab meeting hitting the headlines was in November, when a proposal was made to make penalties a ‘one shot’ affair – if the spot kick is saved by the keeper or comes back off the posts, the ball is dead and a goal kick is awarded. I like the idea. Having a free shot from 12 yards should be reward enough for being fouled in the box, and if you’re not good enough to bury it from that distance then that’s your problem.
Which brings me nicely onto Norwich City. Were you at Carrow Road on 29th September 2018? If you were, then you were present at the last successfully converted penalty by a Norwich player. Who knew that Mario Vrancic’s spot kick – which incidentally was the only goal of the game against Wigan – would become such an anomaly?
It started off as irritating, it became laughable and now it is a full blown curse.
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My Leeds supporting friend often moans to me that his side are never given a penalty – Norwich have been awarded seven so far this season, and have failed to score with six of them.
It doesn’t seem to matter if the pressure is on or not. Marco Stiepermann had his penalty saved when City were 2-0 down at Preston last week, when a goal would have got them right back in the game.
But Kenny McLean became the latest victim of the curse when they were cruising against Bolton on Saturday. It’s not who is taking them either. McLean and Stiepermann joined Jordan Rhodes, Vrancic and Teemu Pukki on the list of players to have squandered their chances.
Most of the penalties City have taken have been side-footed efforts, essentially rolled into the arms of a goalkeeper who couldn’t believe his luck.
Paul Merson, watching the game for Sky Sports on Saturday, said McLean ‘never looked like scoring’ his penalty.
I’ve always believed that penalties should be hit hard, high into the net. That way, you’re more than likely to score, and if the keeper does pull off a save then you have to take your hat off to him.
In a way it is remarkable that a team who can’t score penalties and can’t defend corners sits top of the league after 33 games.
But that’s because everything else Norwich City do is fantastic.
You simply will not find more attractive football on offer in the Championship – us fans are being treated to everything we were promised when Daniel Farke arrived at the club and it is a joy to behold. Now if only we could score from the spot.