Norwich City’s soft centre has proved fatal
PUBLISHED: 20:00 04 May 2017
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There’s been a softness about this Norwich team away from home this season that even though they did so many good things at Elland Road was all undone once again by poor defending.
If ever a team were capable of throwing away a three-goal lead then that team would have to be Norwich City.
Put it this way I wouldn’t have needed too many guess if someone had walked up to me last Saturday evening and asked, ‘have a guess who blew a three-goal lead this afternoon?’
Having seen Nelson Oliveira put Norwich 3-0 just before half-time I thought it was job done and what a good win that would be, following the 3-1 away win at Preston a couple of weeks before. Ok, the lads conceded a goal straight away, but they still went in at the break leading 3-1.
Surely certain things should have been said during the break, by both staff and players, to ensure that they didn’t give Leeds another sniff, and however Norwich played in that second half the players stayed disciplined in terms of their position on the field, the team remained organised, and kept it’s defensive shape.
Now we have the last game of a long, frustrating season on Sunday when Alan Irvine and the lads host QPR at Carrow Road, and let’s hope the boys can go out with a bang and put on a really top performance that the fans can go home happy with. There might be a few of the players playing their last games for Norwich and I’m sure the Canary faithful will give them the send off they deserve.
We have known for some time now Norwich will be playing in the Championship again next season. Looking at the two teams coming up through automatic promotion, Sheffield United and Bolton, I think they will be welcomed with open arms as they are two very good clubs with stadiums that I used to love to play in. Bramall Lane is a little bit old school but nonetheless it’s a fine place to play and it used to be quite a lucky ground for me, having scored there a few times. On a more disappointing note I did score my one and only own goal there in the yellow shirt of Norwich.
If I’m honest my footballing career started at Bolton Wanderers, not the Reebok stadium. I’m talking about their old ground, Burnden Park, which is now an Asda superstore. I was only 16 and playing for the Welsh U18s against England in the Victory Shield, a competition that’s produced many a player over the years.
I was the youngest member of our squad but even back then I was a big lad and having played men’s football in North Wales since I was 14 I knew how to look after myself. Not one to blow my own trumpet but I had a stormer of a game, and even though England had two 18-year-old centre halves they simply couldn’t cope with my pace (yes believe it or not I was quite quick back in those days), and my strength. We lost a game we really should have won 3-1 but I scored our goal and received the man-of-the-match award.
As I walked towards the changing rooms I could see my father there waiting for me, which was strange as he would always wait for me by the players’ entrance. I went up to him and asked if everything was ok? He simply said, yes, but I needed to go with him to Phil Neal’s office, Bolton’s manager at the time, as he wanted to speak to me.
I quickly got showered and changed and before you know it I was sitting in Phil Neal’s office and he’s telling me he wants to offer me a three-year contract there and then, something that didn’t really happen back then. You had to wait until you were 18. Of course I was flattered by the offer but something didn’t quite sit right with me and even to this day I can’t tell you what it was. I thanked him for the offer, shook his hand, and said I’d really like to go home and discuss everything with my mum and dad; something Phil agreed to as it was the only natural thing to do.
My dad and I got up and walked out and as soon as we walked outside the ground there must have been 15 scouts from different clubs talking over each other and pushing their personal cards into my dad’s hand and asking him to ring them.
Eventually when we got home we went through the cards and one stood out and that was Tom Walley’s, who was Watford’s youth team manager. It only stood out because my dad knew of him as he grew up not far from us in Caernarfon and he was a proper Welshman and I liked that a lot.
I went to a few of the other clubs for trials and enjoyed myself, however as soon as I went to Watford and met Tom for the first time I knew that Watford was the club for me.
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