Sunday, 28 September 2008

What hope does a team like Norwich have in the Premiership when refs are biased towards "bigger" teams ?

Yesterday we witnessed one of the poorest days of refereeing decisions in a long while with, again, a clear bias in referees decisions towards the bigger teams in the league.

In the Merseyside Derby Cahill was fouled badly, no card was issued. In the second half Cahill commits a foul, which in Alan Hansen's view (and he is not noted for his bias against Liverpool), was not as bad as the one on him in the first half and Mike "old mother" Riley produces a red card from nowhere.

Then later on in the day we saw Rob Styles give a comedy penalty to Manchester United for no reason at all. It would not be so bad had he been in a bad position to see it, but replays showed he was perfectly placed. It would not be quite so bad had he got the guts to step forward in front of the cameras and say "I'm human, I made a terrible mistake". but his silences always makes you wonder why it is that Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea always get those decisions.

Of course, when it comes to the smaller teams, it clearly depends who you are playing. Last year Fulham had some awful refereeing decisions against them in matches when they were playing bigger opposition whilst Norwich fans will have little difficulty in remembering the away game in the Premiership against Portsmouth when not only were Norwich somewhat controversially down to 10 men from an over officious referee, but Norwich were ultimately robbed of the points by a referee who decided when a Portsmouth player hand balled in the Norwich area, to award them a penalty !

What hope is there for those smaller teams who go up to the premiership when you know you are playing against 12 not 11 men ?

Friday, 26 September 2008

Now is the time to build momentum

So far this season we have already had a couple of false dawns.

Firstly we started the season in some hope of a good start. Lots of new signings left us all, like fans of many other team, in a position of thinking maybe this is the year. Sadly a lame defeat in a game dominated by Norwich to a poor Coventry team shattered those early dreams along with succession of draws.

Then, folowing the excellent draw with Birmingham and an away win at Plymouth, not seen since the 1960's, Norwich fans again began to hope that Norwich would build on the points only to this come undone in rather spectacular fashion when losing toothlessly against a ten man QPR team at home.

So tomorrow, following the late win against Sheffield United last week, it really is time for City to lay down a marker, not just to other team but for themselves and the fans. Back in the promotion season it was at the end of September that Norwich started to string some results together and gather momentum and it was in this period that the team themselves started to walk on the pitch like winners.

Tomorrow then a defeat must be avoided at all costs if we, the fans, are to start taking the promotion and play-off talk seriously.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Lee Clark is right. I was there

I am in full agreement with assistant manager Lee Clark in his assessment of the Norwich team that faced Fulham on the last day of the season in 2005.

For those who do not know, if Norwich had won the game that day they would have stayed in the Premier League. Instead a spineless Norwich team lost 6-0 to a Fulham team who had absolutely nothing to play for except their pride.

Lee Clark, who was playing his final game for Fulham that day explained

“It was my last game for Fulham, after I had been there seven years as captain. We couldn't move any higher in the league. If we won we couldn't change our position, no matter what."

“Our preparation that week was that this would be the toughest game of the season - they are fighting for their lives, we could be getting kicked from pillar to post come Sunday. Dean Ashton missed a chance after about 12, 15 minutes to make it 1-0 and it was goodnight, Vienna. The towels were thrown in, the white flags were out. It was the easiest Premiership match I have ever played in."

“There were so-called superstars in the team that day who actually went on to do not bad, but they didn't do the fans justice that day. I can guarantee that. That was a pathetic effort to try and keep the club in the Premiership.You go down with a fight and that didn't happen that day. It was an unbelievable turnout and they let the club down.”

As someone who went to the game with my wife (then still my girlfriend - one wonders why she accepted my offer of marriage a fortnight later), as people who turned down offers of £250 each for our tickets by the many hundreds of Norwich fans who travelled down to London just to support the team on from outside the ground where there were probably a good 6,000 Norwich fans present, it is difficult to explain how let down we were by some Norwich players.

For many fans, people like Damien Francis, Thomas Helveg, Mattias Jonnson, Dean Ashton and several others all looked like they had their minds on their next transfer move, a signing on fee and perhaps larger wages, and the fans were the last of their concerns.

It is good though to read how seeing this capitulation has helped motivate Lee Clark now he is at Norwich. Hopefully this attitude from Lee will help us next time we are in the same position.

For anyone wanting to suffer the pain again, the YouTube clip below shows the 6-0 defeat.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Let's all laugh at Spurs

This amusing story from the West Ham Blog "West Ham Till I Die" should bring a smile to any Canary fan still smarting over the mauling we received from Spurs in the pre-season friendly.

Will the Hoolahan knockers "knock it off"

What is it with some Norwich fans who seem to revel in trying to make new players who struggle to instantly shine feel like dirt ?

The current target for some fans appears to to Wesley (Wes) Hoolahan whose main crime, it appears, is to play in the same position as Darren Huckerby. Norwich fans who sit near me seem absolutely obsessed with repeating over and over again that "he's no Huckerby" and "he's not like Huckerby", to which my response would be simply that for most of last season, particularly up to the last eight or so games, Darren Huckerby was himself a makeweight, unable to turn a game in Norwich's favour, seemingly unable to beat his marker and was a pale reflection of the player he once was. Norwich fans, it appears, can sometimes wear rose tinted spectacles.

Personally I think Wes Hoolahan is improving in each and every game. Yes, he is very left footed, but he constantly tries to link play and pick a pass rather than tamely giving the ball away by hoofing it long up the field. Like any new player, it is taking him time to bed in, but let's give the bloke a chance.

Whatever your views though on Hoolahan, we ought to all accept that moaning and booing Norwich players is hardly like to make them play better.

To be fair, the so called fans behind me moaning about him last week were also moaning about Norwich signing Dion Dublin a couple of years ago, they didn't rate Jason Shackell (until he left) and they now like to moan about Stefanovic !

Yes, some fans are just born to moan.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Some fans don't deserve Premier League football

I am not one of those fans who believe "only the big clubs should be in the Premier League", after all, smaller teams deserve time to get up to the higher echelons of football and develop a fan base. However, there are some teams whose fans really do not deserve Premier League football.

Yesterday less than 20,000 people turned up to watch Blackburn play at home to Fulham. now granted, this was not the umber one game of the day, even on a day when only five matches were being played. But for less than 20,000 fans to turn up on a warm day (the weather might have been an excuse on a bad day), is appalling.

Blackburn have been in the Premiership for all but one season since the league started in 1992 and during that time they even won the league. I might point out that Norwich yesterday had more than 24,000 people at a Championship match and Norwich actually have 20,000 season ticket holders and a waiting list too !

As I said, some fans don't deserve to have the likes of Robinho, Ronaldo, Deco and Yakubu visiting them every week.

It reminds me of an old joke.

I phoned up Ewood Park to ask them what time the Blackburn match was due to start. They responded "What time can you make it ?"

Peter Thorne - How on earth ...

A simple statement which also leads to a series of obvious questions.
Peter Thorne has scored 22 goals in 40 appearances for Bradford since leaving Norwich City.

Question 1 - How ?

Question 2 - Was he the most overpaid player Norwich's history relative to what he achieved on the pitch ?

Question 3 - Do you remember his one goal for Norwich ? (I do)

Question 4 - Was he taking the p*ss by staying at Norwich , playing reserve team football and taking his large wage packet when he could have gone elsewhere (and Norwich had accepted offers I understand) but he would have earned less.

The Lee Croft conundrum

What is it with Lee Croft ? When we first signed him from Manchester City he looked like a potential world beater in a side under Nigel Worthington that was lacking ideas and direction. But ever since about Christmas in his first season he has looked like a pale imitation of himself seemingly unable to beat opponents consistently and having no end product. Yet yesterday he produced a stunning performance, beating the Sheffield United left sided players at will with a combination of unadulterated pace and skill and topping it all off with a goal.

Hopefully, Croft's goal will cement his place in the team, meaning we will see more top quality performances. But what must definitely happen is that Lee Croft needs to make sure this is not another one off. We have seen before at Carrow Road how a dynamic winger who can contribute a few goals can make a dramatic difference to a team. Back in 2002 Paul McVeigh's goals and consistent form saw us through to the play off final whilst Darren Huckerby's contribution over many years saw City promoted and also saved from relegation to League One.
So come on Lee, make the difference for us this season.