It is traditional at this point in any season – let alone this one – to offer up a few thoughts with regard to the Player of the Season.
After all, someone will be lifting the Barry Butler silverware ahead of that home clash with Coventry City in just ten days time at the start of what could prove to be the mother of all Carrow Road parties.
I suspect the long-standing favourite remains the same; that events of late have done little to deny skipper Grant Holt his next claim to Canary fame.
And, I think, on balance my vote would still go to the 30-year-old – not least for his overall qualities of leadership, let alone that crucial goal tally. But it may yet prove a close run contest; closer than many might have imagined after, say, Holt’s derby day destruction of Ipswich at Carrow Road.
On the basis of the old adage: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone…’, the two-game absence of Wes Hoolahan recently left Norwich looking slightly bereft in the creation department.
The twinkle-toed Dubliner is, invariably, the spark that lights Norwich’s fire; he picks a pass and finds a space that others can only dream about.
He is one of those players that Bruce Rioch would admire; in that he sees ‘the bigger picture’ – his radar is tuned to a higher frequency than the vast majority of footballers in this division.
You sit off him at your peril; give him time and space on the ball and he will pick you apart – as Town discovered last week.
So there’s one to challenge Holt for his likely crown – little Wessi.
The other dark horse has to be Russell Martin whose name has crossed more than one lip this week when the conversation turns to ‘Player of the Season’.
And, in fairness, you can see why. For one thing, he hasn’t missed a minute of a game. It sounds a small thing, but if every manager aspires to a team of Mr Consistents, being there – week in, week out – delivering eight out of ten after eight out of ten after eight out of ten, then Martin has proved yer man.
OK, he might have slipped the odd six or seven in at the start of the season as he started to find his feet in his new surroundings, but since then he has barely put a foot wrong – be it going forward or tracking back.
His strike at Portman Road the other night was a classic of the attacking full-back’s art. But more than that, it was yet further evidence of the heart and the engine the man possesses.
He happily bombs up and down that flank from first minute to last; it was, after all, his late strike that was bound for the bottom corner against the Rams on Monday only for Alberto Bueno to play for the in-off off Simeon Jackson’s mid-riff.
Other right-backs we could all think of would have shanked that last chance into the top tier of the Barclay and Norwich would be following in the wake of Cardiff going into the final two games of the season.
Martin kept his head down and kept his head generally and City emerged with all three points from another crucial encounter en route to the finishing line.
The other point that I quite like about Martin is that he is invariably the last man off the pitch – and is, invariably, the one that gives the supporters the longest round of applause for their own efforts.
That, alone, will win him friends. He doesn’t take their support – and their money – for granted. So, I think he may yet push Holt right to the wire.
Andrew Crofts is one of those that might take a ‘Players Player of the Year’ award; one whose efforts are more noted by the boys than the punters.
The two centre-halves have both had their injury ups and downs; had Jackson started the season the way that he is finishing it, he would have been a shoe-in.
But I’ll go Holt; by a whisker.
The clincher? The level of his performance against Nottingham Forest – or rather the very fact that he was on the pitch at all to deliver any sort of performance. Let alone one 90 minutes long.
Far wiser heads than mine had taken one look at the way Holt had finished the game against Watford three nights early and decided that he was out for two to three weeks. Minimum.
The shift he put in against Forest that night was huge. Forget the goal.
Holt’s a big lad who takes a battering week after week. His body has taken a pounding in the Canary cause, but he is still delivering; leading from the front; setting the standard.
And you can see in that pre-match huddle that his word counts; he is the leader of men that Paul Lambert needs out there beyond the white line.
So he’d get my vote. Just ahead of Martin with Wessi in third.
James Farnhill says
Great entry and completely agree about Holt and Russell. However I would throw Lansbury in for an award as a supporting role. His efforts have been vital this season, and even though he doesn’t start all that often he has helped gain us a lot of points at the end of matches.
John Ellero says
I totally agree. I think the whole team should get the reward but I voted for Holt. My reasoning was without Wes or Russell or Andy Crofts we would still compete for a play-off spot -just, but with-out Grant, even with the others I think we wouldn’t even compete for the top 6 let alone second spot. 20 goals, 13 assists, most fouled (ok also the most fouls given) but everyone in this division would want him in their team.