Soccer is often referred to as a game of two halves. Well, for Norwich City so far this season, with only 17 games played, it has already proven to be a season of two halves.
Norwich started with a flourish, and quickly raced to the top of the table, proving right many of the pundits who had backed them for an immediate return to the Premier league following relegation last season. The joy, optimism and good form didn’t last long however, and Norwich have picked up a measly six points from a possible 24 in their last eight games, and have won only once in those matches.
There have been some good performances from Norwich players this season. Lewis Grabban, like the club itself, hit the ground running at the start of the season. However, the goals have since dried up and Grabban has had his thunder stolen by Cameron Jerome, who is another player that has performed well, whilst John Ruddy continues to be a consistent performer between the sticks. For me though, Russell Martin has been the best performer for Norwich so far this season. Martin is always a reliable performer be it at full-back or as a makeshift centre-half, and is an oft unsung hero for the club.
The most improved player at Norwich this season has been Martin Olsson. I personally didn’t think he played all that well last season as we went down. His performances this season, referee shove aside, has been for more becoming of a Swedish international player.
Norwich’s poor run of form has resulted in the inevitable out pouring of doom and gloom from the terraces, including the almost predictable and obligatory calls for the manager’s head that have become commonplace at most clubs these days when things aren’t going your way.
I for one believe that Neil Adams is the right man for the job, and he has the right tactical nous and man management ability to steady the ship. We are not even half way through the season, and despite the poor run of form, Norwich are still only six points off the top of the table. Now is not the time for panic, although the club have made changes in dismissing first team coach Mark Robson, following Saturday’s capitulation against Nottingham Forest.
That said, Adams does need to settle on a consistent starting XI, and I would have thought that at this stage of proceedings, he would know what his best formation was and who the best personnel are to fill that formation. Injuries and suspensions have hampered him in this regard, but no more so than any other team. The injury of Wes Hoolahan has robbed Adams of his most creative and spirited performer, whilst new signing Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe is also out for a long period, although we haven’t seen the best of him yet anyway, so his absence shouldn’t affect the team too badly.
For me, Norwich’s weakness remains the same as it was last season. A distinct lack of pace and creativity in midfield. Too much is expected of Nathan Redmond, and as such I would like to see Adams strengthen his squad in January by acquiring a central midfielder who is quick but can also unlock a defense with a killer pass. Hoolahan has that ability, but his pace is fading and he is a little lightweight to control a midfield, particularly in the physical play often associated with the Championship. I would also like to see an injection of pace into the heart of the defence. Michael Turner is incredibly solid and reliable, but he has a distinct lack of pace – this is something that needs to be remedied. I can’t fathom why a striker of Gary Hooper’s ability isn’t being given more opportunity to show what he can do, and can only assume that he will be shipped out in January which is a huge shame.
Ruddy, Martin, Hooiveld, Cuellar, Olsson; Tettey, Howson, Johnson, Redmond, Jerome and Hooper, though I can’t see this being the starting line-up any time soon, if at all.
Rating (out of 5 stars):
Overall, a season that started with so much promise is in danger of coming off the rails altogether, and I would give a 3 star rating thus far, although that is due mainly to the good start, otherwise it would be much lower.
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