Make no mistake about it. Allcock was hot property; a must have; a 1950s version of Wayne Rooney; a powerful, athletic all-rounder with as a good an eye for a pass or goal as he had for a tackle. A genuine contender – a man, no, a boy, in demand.
Archives for October 2015
I believe we should have been proud of our club’s performance in those two years. What I saw though was a dramatic rise in expectations that still haven’t abated. While we were justifiably disappointed with the relegation season, some of our wider expectations seem, to me, to be less than reasonable.
On the back of three increasingly poor league defeats – and yes I do rate the West Brom loss below the Newcastle one – last night was a chance for some light relief with a no pressure run out at Goodison in the latest instalment of the Capital One Cup.
We’re quickly learning, the Premier League 2015-style is, alongside the top-level technique, all about pace, power and dynamism. It’s about soaking up pressure when needed and to then explode on the break and exploit the wide open spaces. It’s about gobbling up chances when the present themselves.
I felt for Worthington at the time; a manager who, in this recent era of Lambert and Alex Neil, has seen much of what he did and achieved at Norwich pushed into the shadows of long forgotten footballing rooms.
If Sunday reminded us that our 34-year-old manager is still learning, maybe that’s not a bad thing. I believe Alex Neil has star quality and hope he’s with us for a very long time. But he’s learning his trade at the top level. The good news is that – as our two games against Middlesbrough in the spring showed – he’s a very quick learner.
City have now conceded more than any other team. Twenty in just nine. Much has been made of our inability to defend set-pieces but in the last two matches we’ve repeatedly been exposed to pacey counter-attacks and as we’re all aware there are sterner tests around the corner.
It did bring to mind the gung-ho accusations of early last season when Neil Adams had the “as long as we score more than the opposition” philosophy. That was quickly exposed then and is even more of a dangerous game to be playing when the quality and stakes are so much greater in the top tier.
Any Norwich striker this season will have an extremely difficult job, purely because of our formation, tactics and opposition we’re up against; most of the time playing one up top, which relies massively on our wingers getting those crosses in.
Fans such as myself and, I am sure, thousands of others who remember Gunny’s tenure as both a player and manager will mostly choose to reflect on his time on the pitch rather than off it, time which proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, that he turned out to be one of the best signings the club ever made.
Andy Hughes earned himself the nickname ‘Andy Clap’. His energetic displays demonstrated that he had a ‘good engine’. It was just a shame that the engine was housed in the equivalent of a clapped-out Austin Allegro.
In my stay in ‘the Toon’, I took in a few trips to St James Park. While Newcastle does have a cathedral, the footy ground provides a far more religious experience for the locals who have an unrelenting passion for the game, maybe unlike any other footballing army.
In the Premier League you expect to come up against a decent keeper each week and Butland is surely destined to pick up a stack of England caps. However when a keeper pulls off five or six ‘worldies’ you have the right to feel aggrieved.
It’s not just Roy’s fault that we generally have to rely on the other home nations and beyond for our international interest. When a player progresses to a level that takes them out of our grasp, the next stop is the clutches of the top six and then England.
If we don’t have a top-quality striker, at least we have the next-best thing: genuine competition for the striker’s spot. I remain an admirer of Jerome, but Mbokani, Lafferty and Grabban are real contenders.
Norwich had maybe caught a few of their more illustrious opponents out with the speed of the bid, another sign, perhaps, that the Canaries under Walker were singing a different tune.
Although the initial exchange with Match of the Day’s Jonathan Pearce was a little frosty and awkward as always, Alex dissected his team’s shortcomings against Leicester with the nerve of a sharp-eyed surgeon.
In what was in truth a fairly torrid opening 45, City must have been counting their blessings that their half-time audience with Alex, Frankie and Gary was only to mull over a one goal deficit but the message about not surrendering possession so cheaply clearly went unheeded.
Take a look through some of the first-team squads from the early to mid-1970s for example. Most teams had their own enigmas in there somewhere, except they simply weren’t regarded as mavericks back then.