Let me break with tradition and address a subject where I know what I’m talking about.
Well, almost. I’m going to write about strikers, and I was one – albeit in Division 5 of the West Fulham League, more years ago than I care to remember. But you know what they say about strikers: if you can score goals at one level, you can score at any level.
Sadly, whoever said that hadn’t spent much time watching Division 5 of the West Fulham League. Ted McDougall would’ve done as much in ten weeks there as I did in ten years (and still wouldn’t have smiled). Even Dean Coney would have banged them in.
Unfortunately too, a couple of MFW readers actually played with me in that iconic Capital Canaries side, so I can’t stretch the truth of my accomplishments as much as I’d like to. Ah, but I remember the thrill of the goals and the roar of the crowd (well, the roar of the man and the bark of his dog).
So, I speak with special authority on the subject of City’s current strikeforce.
The good news is that we have all the attributes of a top striker: power, pace, subtlety, aggression and clinical finishing. The bad news is that those qualities are spread across five players.
I’m biased of course, but I reckon you’re as good as your strikers and having a potent attack makes all the difference. As long as McDougall and Phil Boyer were on the pitch, something good could happen for us. The same applied to Chris Sutton, Mark Robins, Iwan Roberts, Robert Fleck – yes, and Grant Holt at his best.
Our current group is interesting and frustrating in equal measure. Two are big-money signings from our previous time in the Premiership, but they’re being eclipsed by two more modest signings from a year ago.
Cameron Jerome (the power) and Lewis Grabban (the pace) are clearly the main options in the manager’s mind, and both have served us well – thank you, Neil Adams.
Grabban didn’t particularly impress me at the start of last season, despite his early goals, but he’s blossomed under Alex Neil and now looks the part.
In contrast, I’ve always admired Jerome – and that admiration reached new heights with his Wembley performance. I’m told he’s desperate to shake off the “not quite good enough for the Premier League” tag, and that hunger could make him a good first choice for us.
The great enigma is perhaps not RvW, but Hooper. He’s the most natural finisher at the club, and can play a bit too – we’ve seen excellent link-up, and in particular some lovely interplay with Wes.
Usually those qualities would guarantee a first-team place, but successive managers haven’t been persuaded to do it. Some fans are incredulous about that, but I can see why: for too much of too many games, he goes missing. You can’t carry someone who contributes so little, however good the little is.
A final word – from me, at least – on our Ricky. Regular readers will know that I’m on the ‘anti’ side of the debate. I say that in sadness rather than anger, and while recognising his virtues. He has genuine footballing ability, works for the team and cares – more than can be said of some who’ve donned the Canary jersey in the past decade.
I also feel a bit bad because I’ve suggested that his fans are blinkered – that they want to give him umpteen chances and are over-influenced by his cuteness.
The fact is we all have favourites, players whose shortcomings we tend to overlook and whose virtues we praise to the skies. We get defensive when they’re criticised, and are outraged when others don’t rate them as highly as we do.
For many City fans, it’s Wes. For me it’s Jonny Howson.
The real way to provoke reaction to an article, it seems, is to talk about Watford rather than Norwich. So a quick word on our fellow new boys (and my nearest club)…
Watford fans are quick to tell us how committed their club is to British talent, and how only a couple of their ten signings have come from Pozzo family connections. Well – up to a point, Lord Copper.
Two of their all-foreign summer signings have come direct from Udinese (Vydra, in particular, must be dizzy from the Pozzo merry-go-round) but it doesn’t end there. Watford’s signing of Miguel Britos from Napoli, for instance, was made possible by Udinese letting Napoli have a replacement.
An unfair advantage? Everyone must decide for themselves – I couldn’t possibly comment.