The other week I wrote a piece about Loic Remy.
The point being that it is the likes of a Remy and their £75,000 a week wages that is always going to separate the likes of a Norwich from the top half of the English Premier League.
There will, inevitably, be exceptions to that rule.
But, by and large, if any team wants to score the number of goals required to improve on an 11th place finish in this division, they are going to have to get their hands dirty cash-wise.
These players cost. As do their agents. And their entourage. And there’s invariably baggage. They can be a handful – on and off the pitch. But they are the difference.
It prompted the odd exchange on Twitter – in particular people pointing out that Norwich ‘could have Sergio Aguerro up front’ and they wouldn’t score ‘through the lack of service’.
As if to prove the point, Messrs Elmander and Hooper barely got a sniff last night as they ploughed their lonely furrows. The bigger chances came for the Hoolahans and the Howsons and, of course, the Johnsons of this world.
But there was another point to last night’s proceedings that, to my mind, merely hammered home the original contention.
Luis Suárez doesn’t need service. Such is the level of his genius that he brings his own.
No-one needed to ‘serve’ him the chance to score goals No1, No3 and No4. They were all of his own doing.
Look at a Gareth Bale. He, like team-mate Ronaldo, carves his own chances from invariably inside his own half of the field.
Paul Scholes did it the other night; in a veterans match. Scored from inside his own half.
Yes, these are all exceptional players; way beyond Norwich’s reach.
But – for me – there is another tier of player that sits beyond a van Wolfswinkel and below a Suárez that the Canaries will need to move up to if they are to sustain their upward progress in the English Premier League.
Benteke at Villa is a decent example; Remy we have talked about before. Selfish, powerful, hungry, difficult… They are all this and more. But they are the difference – the difference between a season-long scrabble year in, year out falling in and out of the bottom five depending on the vagaries of the fixture computer and a relatively comfortable life dragging along the coat-tails of an Everton.
It poses huge questions of the board as the January transfer window looms.
Just how deep are their pockets; just how far are they prepared to back the incumbent whilst the jury would appear to be forever out on Hughton in certain quarters.
The smart move is probably a loan one.
Find yourself something young, hungry, powerful and lean out of Chelsea or Arsenal Reserves.
Though that policy – as has been proved on any number of occasions – is fraught with peril.
Too young a la Master Gibbs and they still look – and play – like a boy. Josh Murphy deserves to win his spurs first. And, besides, as a product of the system, he cares.
Which is more than the kid from Spurs appeared to. His name escapes me.
The other point – in a World Cup year – is to find a player desperate to get games and goals under his belt before the summer. At a high level.
Someone must fit that bill; a 22-year-old Nigerian languishing in the shadow of a Torres. Or a Rooney. Or whoever.
That’s where I would go.
Limit the exposure financially by six month deal; take the hit on weekly wages and the loan fee and the agent fee and the agent’s brother’s mates fee.
But do what it takes to get yourself a striker who makes his own chances.
All the top clubs have one.
Rewind to the start of the season I was confident we had bought real quality, RvW and Hooper up front, Leroy Fer in the middle of the park and Redmond causing havoc down the flanks. John Ruddy stayed and declined a seat on the bench with Chelsea, quite frankly I was as optimistic about the start of the season as I can remember in a long time.
I think the problem is not the players, it’s that something hasn’t clicked, it’s not the formation- that works perfectly well for nearly everyone else. I’m not even sure it’s the manager, like the players he’s better than we are seeing. If I could tell you what was really wrong I’d go there and fix it myself, but I don’t know what is turning our potential into our sorry reality.
Maybe a new boss would have the answers, maybe not but at the start of the season I looked at the squad and thought this team is excellent, we should do well. I still believe that if it does click this is a decent bunch of players.
Perhaps they all just need a kick up the rear end, or an infamous Fergie hair dryer- sadly I just don’t think Houghton could do a hair dryer if his life depended on it, he’s not that kind of bloke. I bet Paul Lambert could though, so maybe that’s it after all, what Norwich need is a ba@tard!
Like Paul I was excited by the players we bought .
We only had YouTube to go on but RvW appeared to have it all when it came to finishing including sublime skills and touch. Both he and Hooper were obviously close range finishers dependent upon the service to come from wide men who got behind the defence and provided searching through passes or balls pulled back to the well positioned striker(s). Leroy looked a box to box player with a terrific shot and pace to burn.Redmond’s skill and pace were better known as were the similar skills of Martin Olsson. We were looking forward to a team which bombed forward and scored for fun
What then has gone wrong?
I believe natural attributes have been stifled by our cautious and negative coaching staff who appear to have imposed a rigid defensive system ,dependent upon passing to feet with no movement off the ball leading to laboured build up and backward passing presumably intended to achieve possession with perhaps the wins coming from the odd set piece goal in conjunction with keeping clean sheets.
All this has come to nothing because the players earmarked to achieve this have largely failed to deliver whilst at the same time the new players purchased in the summer have had their natural skills stifled through a rigid system which does not allow free expression.Injuries have not helped but the only player who appears to have burst his chains is Redmond but it seems clear that his shooting skills have received little guidance from the coaching staff!
In short,it is hardly surprising that players look dispirited -their aims and expectations,like ours,have been suffocated by an over- cautious approach.
Norwich fans like flair and excitement and it seemed like we were going to get it?
Time for a change in approach but it may already be too late.
I to was filled with blind excitement, the quality, creativeness, flair, individuality made me think of 10th place and games where we would be 2 or 3 up at half time. However……mechanical and rigid philosophies have removed any hint of creative thought. I remember a quote from someone “in the game”. ” Chris leaves no stone unturned, he knows everything and nothing is left to chance”….this struck me cold as it suggested we had a manager i liken in style to Allardyce / AVB. Over tactical, over mechanical with the players seemingly not allowed to express there talents until we are two or three up. We look painfully rigid, painfully non creative and painfully slow. Alas i firmly believe the management team at present does not work. As a fan, the remaining season without highs just lows does not excite at all. Would love Redknapp for his style, Hoddle for his technical expertise, Adams for his passion, Ole Gunner or Robins for their youthful energy, European for a “different” Norwich. CH is a great guy, but it is not working.
Michael D says
I’m not sure why you are focusing up front at the moment, Rick, it is our midfield that is woefully lacking. It worked for about 3 games with Tettey, Fer and Howson, but there is no adequate replacement for either of them – witness the decline in performances in several respects, when Johnson returns. If we can’t retain the ball better, stifle the opposition more, and make telling passes within the final third, then it doesn’t matter how many more strikers we buy, they will be wasted. And besides, Hughton hasn’t even learned how to deploy the strikers that he does have. It is simply ridiculous how little Becchio has played after scoring 18 goals in half a season in the Championship, especially as it was Hughton himself who brought him in.
Surely this is a question for the manager to answer as much as it is for the Board? Rewind the clock ten years to 2003 and there was Nigel Worthington “finding the answer” to a similar question, then in the shape of DH6. The $64,000 (supplemental) question is, does Hughton have the wherewithal to pose the right question of the Board?
The Loan Ranger says
Have I been stuck in a time warp or haven’t we been down the ‘get the loans in’ path before to no great effect. Kamara last year got everyone excited but the goals never materialised. Harry Kane? Might as well have been Michael Caine.
Rick – you suggest it as though it’s the easiest thing in the world to find a 20-30 goal a season striker who appears to have escaped the attention of the manager of the club he’s already at. Lukaku is an exception.
Benteke can’t get in the Villa side at present.
kpg24uk(3):For all Redknapp’s ‘style’, QPR got relegated if I remember correctly and they are not the most exciting Championship side to watch under him. Hoddle has been out of the PL too long and the others would be massive gambles at this level.
Paul(1): Ah..back to Lambert. Villa may be more exciting to watch than us away but their home form is abject (lost 4 times this season). Of course we need to be better away but not at the expense of poor home results. Getting that balance right is only being achieved by Arsenal at the moment.
Loan Ranger (6). Appreciate your thoughts and 100% valid too. With reference to Redknapp, i love his style only, we are 1 to far north for him and 2. He is a little bit of the “old school” for us, but as a father figure to someone else?..possibly. But i re-itterate, “i love his style” as he plays the game how i like it and…we would have a chance of a good cup run!. Hoddle – i have always admired his attempts to play the game from a technical perspective, we could be an ideal canvas for his new found belief and capabilities. And yes, agreed he has been away for some years. The others would be a risk but isn’t that part of the challenge? Wouldn’t it be a risk to keep CH? Wouldn’t be a risk for MU to bring in Fergie? Was it a risk for Saints to bring in Poccetino (excuse spelling, NCFC to bring in Lambert and for Sunderland to bring in Di Canio? they are all risks but these have to be taken to succeed although some do not work. (re Di Canio) Our playing style is risk-averse (keep a clean sheet as a priority) so, as we are never going to win the league (as long as silly money is awash) why not go to to watch us with a belief of good technical play, attacking prowess and the possibility of a wembley day out. Anyway loving the difference in comments on these pages and keep them coming.