Talent needs talent. It can shine even when among dull objects, but not half as much as it can when radiating against something equally as bright.
Would John Lennon’s star have ascended as far as it did if he had played with Maroon 5 rather than the Fab Four? Or Noel Gallagher if he’d been stuck with the Jonas Brothers rather than his own sibling?
They would have had a few hits, but just wouldn’t have scaled the pinnacles of their potential without having McCartney, Harrison, and little brother Liam to riff with.
With this in mind it’s interesting to review the stadium gig held by Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell on Tuesday night. Up against Birmingham’s team bus, both players’ displays have been reviewed favourably by many – five-star performances according to some.
This is the first match of 2020/21 where we’ve seen two of the Norwich squad’s biggest rock stars perform together after they had both threatened to pull the band apart while the transfer window was open.
After trashing their hotels and metaphorically chucking their TVs out of their windows, the management appear to have calmed Todd and Emi down, put arms around their shoulders, and calmed their egos.
With no moves materialising to the Premier League supergroups, or even Leeds, the boys are back in town and facing a 46-date tour of the Championship – the glamourous venues of Wycombe, Luton, Barnsley and Coventry await.
The comeback tour they both didn’t want to be part of has become an exciting journey with ‘the boys’. The rifts are healed and the easy-listening hits such as ‘I can’t wait to start playing again’, ‘I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else’, and ‘I’m going to give 110% to the club’ were played as a warm-up.
Cantwell and Buendia have played solo this season – Todd looking like he’d rather be playing somewhere else as he took hit after hit from Preston’s rockers, while Emi looked frustrated as he played two notes ahead of his out-of-key teammates during the game with Derby.
Yet playing together on Tuesday there was the semblance of a rhythm, a hint of a beat, and the potential of some special performances to come from the pair.
They just couldn’t keep away from each other. Playing very narrow in the first half, Emi and Todd bounced the ball off back and forth frequently in an attempt to play allegro around a well-orchestrated Birmingham backline.
They were involved in everything City created with Cantwell almost getting on the scoresheet in both halves – while Buendia’s touches grew more incisive as the game wore on. And Emi’s work rate matched it, often covering back down the right wing and helping shore up the defence when the Blues decided to actually move forward.
There’s no doubt that we saw the Argentine starting to find form and looking more settled amongst his peers.
This more composed Emi is at odds to the one we often saw during the final knocks of the Premier League season or even against the Rams recently. We saw a man that believed he was on another level to his teammates, thinking three passes ahead while others didn’t know their next move. It saw his frustration get the better of him. The arms were thrown into the air and his back was turned to play while the game continued to play around him.
Thankfully, this version of Emi wasn’t seen against Birmingham. Apart from one slightly frustrated and incredibly hopeful dig at goal from the best part of 40 yards, he was the personification of calm, a man looking more restrained and at ease with himself.
Maybe not quite the exuberant character that tore the Championship to shreds in 2018/19, but the win over the Blues saw him show the potential to rediscover the golden days of playing lead guitar with Teemu and the Title Winners.
Even when the floodlights faded and the TV cameras switched off on Tuesday night, it was clear that to get the best from our two best performers they need to duet and be supported by the rest of the group.
Despite being incredibly talented in comparison to anything else found in the second tier, shouldering the push by themselves is beyond Todd and Emi. They are not one-man shows, despite the tricks, the skills, the arrogance.
They are still young and have much to learn – much better suited as exceptional members of a talented ensemble than being pressured into being lead performers.
Todd scored one in the Championship during 2018/19 before grabbing six goals in the Premier League. Emi scored eight during the Championship winning season and one in the top division. That’s not to say they didn’t create chances for others, especially the Argentinian, but he’s not at the level of his countryman Lionel Messi – despite our (often unrealistically) high opinions of him.
Buendia isn’t going to carry this team on his back and nor will Dereham’s finest. And we shouldn’t be disappointed in either of them for not being able to do so.
To get the neat, one-touch, fluent and incisive football to return on a consistent basis means getting the pair to play in tandem behind Pukki and/or Hugill. This is crucial to Norwich’s success. They will also bring much more from Marco Stiepermann’s repertoire too – or whoever else is tasked with being the focal point of the attack in the No10 position.
We may only have them to January, but in these short months it’s time for Daniel Farke to keep them, and the rest of the team, playing in tune if he’s going to conduct a Championship promotion winning campaign.
And final word to Lukas Rupp – dependable, energetic, willing and seriously underrated. Ringo Starr anyone?
martin penney says
I enjoyed the theme of that – you hardly dropped a note.
For some reason Josip Drmic always reminded me of Syd Barrett at the end of his Floyd days.
As in couldn’t be bothered to turn up and if he did just stand on the Carrow Road stage with his hands behind his back. Let’s hope Hugill becomes our Gilmour [Dave, not Charlie].
Back in the day Ringo won the “best drummer” category in the music press every year.
John apparently once said: “Ringo’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles”.
Martin Betts says
I wish I’d thought of some of those lines 😂
Andrew Delf says
It really was a great article, Martin is fast becoming MFWs equivalent of the NME chief reporter (New musical express). Gilmour(David) is in my opinion a God if Jordan Hugill can become the footballing front man of Pink Floyd then we truly have our very own Crazy Diamond.
martin penney says
I dunno which Martin you refer to but in case it’s me I put my hands up – I did write a few review bits for NME back in the late 70s-early 80s.
At least our defence no longer appears to be comfortably numb.
The very shortly upcoming MFW Wycombe preview will show that my obsession with music continues – I just can’t help it!
Good article and hopefully if the form develops and the points follow and promotion looks on the cards, the pair might stay and learn to shine with Norwich in the prem. Don’t think Rupp will be underrated for too much longer if he continues to produce these performances. So long as they stay injury free I can see Skipp and Rupp developing a great partnership. Skipp will only get better with experience and Rupp has the quality – just needed to find his feet and get a bit of confidence. Maybe if we got promoted Spurs would let us keep Skippy for another season just so he has Premier league experience. Amazing what a win will do for the optimism!!
Colin B says
It seems clear that some wise people have talked to Emi and Todd about how they need to react and play to convince other teams that they are worth the money Norwich want for them. Let’s hope they continue to play as well as they did against Birmingham. They may get a move in January but I hope they realise that they may be better served by staying the whole season with Norwich.
How could you forget roger waters martin p shame on you 😲
martin penney says
Oh c’mon Jim I can’t forget Roger Waters – I just don’t like his solo stuff 🙂
In Nick Mason’s brilliant book *Pink Floyd – an inside history* Nick described entering a studio with Waters as *like working for Stalin*.
I rest my case.
Richard Hutson says
HI Martin, as a huge fan of Norwich City and the Beatles I found this an interesting and entertaining piece, well done. I am glad that Martin Penny says that John Lennon ‘apparently’ said Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles. Over the years Beatles fanatics and experts have searched high and low for evidence (video or otherwise) to substantiate the story but have found no such evidence. Mark Lewisohn who is generally acknowledged as one of the most knowledgeable writers on the group and has written several acclaimed and detailed books on them unearthed a clip from the BBC Radio comedy Radio Active, part written by Angus Deayton in which the gag appears. The clip is on Mark’s Twitter feed on 14th October. Mark is convinced this is where the myth originated and was never said by Lennon. Further in defence of Ringo over the years the other three members of the group all publicly credited him as being an integral part of their success and by no means the passenger some seemed to believe.
martin penney says
I’m not actually a massive fan of the Beatles myself – Stones & Kinks for me from that era – but you’re quite right about the alleged Lennon remark. It sounds so like his acerbic style but nobody can prove it as you say.
But why do I understand that Paul McCartney was the ace sticksman referred to in the quote – before they fell out of course?
Somebody must have said it and it sure wasn’t Mr Starkey 🙂
Excellent article Martin B and you’re analogy is spot on.
IF we can get the team playing together as you so rightly say, then I’m sure that we will terrorise some teams and score more than 2 goals. Thankfully, morale/confidence amongst the squad must be as high as it’s ever been, so let’s hope they ‘keep the pedal to the metal’ straight from kick-off against Wycombe on Saturday.
I’ve said in previous comments when replying to Martin P, that the Emi/Todd debacle was the work of their respective agents and if they want to justify their price tag in readiness for January, then they’d best show their worth on the pitch.
Who knows, if we can put a few wins together and are in the top 6 at the start of the year, they may feel that we could make it back to the PL and stay to help the team achieve that miracle – only time will tell.
Genius at work then 👍
Richard Hutson says
Hi Martin Penney, sorry to hear you’re not a great fan of the Beatles though I can see the appeal of the Stones and the Kinks. Anyway we really must get back to matters NCFC on which I always enjoy your contributions to this site. Keep them coming. KIndest regards,
martin penney says
I’m on firm football ground usually but if music comes up. oh well, you know.
I’m also expecting us to do the job against Wycombe, Beast ‘n all..
Three points for us on Saturday and I won’t need to eat my words.
ps I do like the White Album and Lennon’s Working Class Hero is one of my favourite songs of all time – especially when covered by the Manics.
Jim Davies says
The best band in the 60s was The Animals. Saw them live in Cromer the week that House of the Rising Sun hit no1. Brilliant musicians, and what a voice from Eric Burdon. The venue in Cromer was the Rollerdrome, aka the Rink, where the supermarket car park is now, opposite Maryjane’s fish and chip shop on Garden Street.
Roger Cole says
Ha on the musical front we followed the Spencer Davis Group, the gaffer of which just died 🙁 Happy memories of an all-nighter at the Twisted Wheel in Manc with Stevie not much more than 2m away.
Footie wise Wycombe is game seven. IF (if) we win, that would be W4 D1 L2 but we then go into seven games against teams above us (mostly) not below (mostly). If we can achieve the same i.e. 2 points on average per game then I may start to think we can avoid relegation and maybe even do better! OTBC