Filed: Friday, 8th November 2013
By: Preview Percy
More from the man who failed the audition for the "Grumpy Old Men" TV show because he was too miserable. Television's loss is, er, our loss as well.....
Next we journey up the M11 to the land of the extra digit where we will be entertained by Norwich City. Kick-off is at 5.30pm for the benefit of the be-saucered amongst you. There doesn't seem to be anything in the way of engineering works on the appropriate railway lines so an early start should see you sampling the local ales for a decent session.
Our hosts are not in the rudest of health at present, sitting third from bottom with 8 points from their 10 games thus far. They have a four point and five point cushion over Sunderland & Palace respectively at the moment. The 8 points have come courtesy of an opening day 2-2 home draw with Everton, a 1-0 win over Southampton (also at home) later that month, a 1-0 win over Stoke at the Britannia in September and a 0-0 draw with Cardiff last month. Other than that it's been defeats all the way, most notably last weekend when they shipped 7 (seven) without response against Man City, something that left them with a goal difference of -14, only one goal better off than the bottom two.
The Cardiff game ended controversially as Leroy Fer put the ball into an unguarded net whilst all around were expecting him to play the ball back to the 'keeper, the ball having been played out by Cardiff to enable a Norwich player to receive treatment. After a minute or two of pushing and shoving the goal was chalked off, the “handbags” earning both clubs a fine – Norwich coughing up £20k with Cardiff's share yet to be decided at the time of writing. Fer later owned up that he'd “scored” deliberately, an admission which, I suppose, contained honesty, if not sportsmanship. Of course one should not ignore the role of the referee in all this. Mike Jones (for 'twas he) claimed that he'd disallowed the goal because he hadn't blown the whistle for the restart. Strangely, nobody asked Jones a) why he didn't blow up in the several seconds that elapsed between the throw being taken and the ball entering the net; b) why he hadn't felt it necessary to signal the restart for any of the other throw-ins that afternoon; and c) whether he would have signalled play on had the Cardiff 'keeper picked the ball up. Actually, it's not that strange that nobody asked. Everyone knows the answers anyway – unlike Fer, Jones has never given the impression of being over-familiar with the concept of honesty.
Norwich are, famously, majority owned by Mr & Mrs Wynn-Jones. You may, of course know Mrs Wynn-Jones better as Delia Smith, Norfolk's answer to Fanny Craddock. This fact got us thinking here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. We reckon the tv companies may be missing a trick. The other afternoon there were at least three of the tv channels available in the day room that weren't showing some sort of cookery programme.
A few years ago the Wynn-Joneses looked as if they were about to sell up. Minority shareholdings were purchased by interested parties, places on the board were arranged and it seems that Delia was to ride off into the sunset to concentrate on her spam fritters. However, the new investors came and went and the only major new appearance on the board in recent years has been Stephen Fry. Which is, I suppose, quite interesting.
There were a number of changes on the personnel front during the summer. The aforementioned Fer, whose surname is French for “Iron”, came in for a reported £7m from Dutchmen FC Twente. Norwich represents Fer's second attempt at forging (forging, geddit? Oh suit yourselves) a career in England. He'd agreed a deal to join Everton back in January but a problem with one of his knees (either the right or the left – it's really not that important you know), led to Everton trying to negotiate the transfer fee on a pay as you go basis. Twente weren't impressed and pulled out of the deal. Which is how he ended up in Norfolk.
Grant Holt left for Wigan to be replaced by no fewer than three strikers (as a well-known search engine might say “three strikers? Did you mean No strikers?). You have to say that whatever his footballing pedigree, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel is a damned fine name. Apparently he got the nickname “Hat-ricky” as a kid but, lets face it, when you have a name that good any attempt to jazz it up is, frankly, a waste of time. Sometimes less is more. RVW came in from Sporting (Lisbon), having been contacted by Dutch legend Johan Neeskens who told him he should join the Canaries. Robin Van Persie also called him and said the same thing, but he joined anyway, £8.5m being the alleged fee. Van Wolfswinkel missed the Man City drubbing and the spotty work experience oik has just told me that he'll be absent this weekend as well, which is a shame as it would have been interesting to hear the home support trying to shoehorn that name into a popular terrace chant.
The second striker in is the less-spectacularly-named Gary Hooper, whose transfer in from Celtic seemed to take forever to sort out. It probably didn't, but it just seemed that every time I saw a newspaper it contained the words “Gary Hooper is expected to compete his transfer to Norwich soon”. Hooper's journey through the football world has been a strange one. An Essex boy, he didn't last too long in the Spurs youth system and elected to go up in the world by joining Grays Athletic. A bit cheesed off with getting only two or three minutes off the bench each week, he left Grays and ended up at Southend. His two year spell at Roots Hall was punctuated with loan spells at Hereford and Leyton Orient before he moved on permanently to Scunthorpe, where he averaged a goal roughly every other game. Celtic, of all people, won the inevitable bidding war and North of the border he went for a reported £2.4m. Up there he improved his average to a goal every game and a half and he spent his three years in the coveted no.88 shirt (the year he was born if you're that interested) being linked with a move back to civilisation (or, in one case, Hull), eventually ending up at Carrow Road for £5m. His Norwich career has been a bit stop start due to injury and it wasn't until the Cardiff match that he made his first start.
The third striker to arrive was former Bolton chappie Johan Elmander. The much-capped Swede has come in on a season-long loan from Galatasary. During his Bolton career he once went through a scoreless spell that lasted no less than nine months. Have a guess which team he broke his duck against. Yup.
Winger Robert Snodgrass is thought to be ok for this match. He was knocked cold during the 4-0 League Cup defeat at Old Trafford, an injury that meant he was missing from the 7-0 at Man City – though I'm not sure anyone would have noticed one more Norwich player walking about in a daze last weekend.
And what about us? Well we had the better of the match against Villa without quite having the cutting edge that some of the approach play deserved. Who'd have thought that would happen what with us playing without strikers and all.
It's been a bit quiet on the disciplinary front - I've been waiting all week for the FA to announce Villa full-back Matt Lowton's punishment for hi stamp on Mark Noble. I've seen the un-broadcast footage (don't ask) and it's a shocking piece of video – all the more so for the fact that ref Webb was close enough to have seen had he actually been looking the right way. Any time you'd like to announce that 3 match ban would be good guys.
There will be changes afoot for this one. The club had put Biggles on standby to whisk the Kiwi away to represent his country. However, the plan ran into a snag when nobody in Norfolk knew where the nearest airport capable of taking a decent-sized jet was. Or indeed where the nearest airport was. Or what an airport actually is. Whilst the club travel agent was patiently explaining the principles behind powered flight to a baffled Norwich City Council official, out came the news that Reid had injured a foot in training, thus sparing the club official the tricky bit about the Wright Brothers. James Collins is now fit enough to return to the side alongside James Tomkins, who has been in good form of late.
The aforementioned Noble has also been in good form but, according to Hodgson, he's no Tom Cleverley. From a club point of view we're all glad about that I suppose but it must be galling for the lad to see players getting international recognition on the basis of the fact that they're playing poorly in the right colour shirt.
Up front Mr Allardyce's comments suggest that we'll go with the zero option once more, which would mean another spot of benchwarming for Cole C (though with all the mind games that bosses play these days it wouldn't be a total surprise to see him start). I suppose that this is a good a game as any to do the 4-6-0 thing in – as the match against Spurs showed it's a formation you can get away with against weaker opposition.
Prediction? Well their defeat last week was against Mn City who, as we know only too well, can be devastating when they're on form. However, most observers came away shaking their heads muttering about how poor Norwich actually were. It's one thing picking yourselves up from a tonking from a superior team if you're not a bad side yourselves, but the psychological damage that must come from the realisation that you're an average side that is going to rely heavily on there being three sides in the league even worse than you is something that will be more difficult to overcome.
Though they will undoubtedly try to come out of the traps fighting (to mix a metaphor), I think an early goal would see heads go down. So, assuming that instructions to get at the opposition early doors are issued and carried out, I can see us having a bit too much for them. With that in mind, the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home Fund to buy Roy Hodgson a copy of the AtoZ that actually contains the E13 postcode (£2.50) will be placed on an away win this week. 2-1 shall we say? Lovely.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met At Carrow Road – Drew 0-0 (Sept 2012) They moaned like anything that they should have had a penalty instead of a free kick. Had they got television up there they'd have seen from the replay that the foul was outside the box.
Jonathan Moss Cost us the match against Stoke at the Boleyn this season by falling for a blatant dive then ignoring Shawcross's barge into the wall as the resulting free-kick was taken. I mean it's not as if Stoke are known for that sort of thing is it. Oh hang on....
Danger Man: Robert Snodgrass – main source of chances for them this season – when he knows where he is.
Daft Fact Of The Week: In 2008 Norwich put itself forward to be “European City Of Culture”. A City councillor was supposed to have blamed their failure to win on “The Partridge Effect” - an assumed sense of ridicule deriving from Steve Coogan's comic creation. The councillor later claimed his comments had been exaggerated, though, in a Partridge-esque aside, he conceded: “ At the back of my mind I'm honest enough to accept that Norwich is a bit of a cultural backwater” No kidding!
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 48; West Ham Utd 18, Norwich 15, Draws 15.
6th October 1934: Norwich 1-2 West Ham Utd (Carrow Road, Division Two)
1st January 2013: West Ham Utd 2-1 Norwich (Boleyn Ground, Premier League)
1st March 1939: Norwich 2-6 West Ham Utd (Carrow Road, Division Two)
1st January 1988: Norwich 4-1 West Ham Utd (Carrow Road, Division One)
October 1958: Norwich 2-4 West Ham Utd (Keeble 2, Grice, Musgrove)
May 1975: Norwich 1-1 West Ham Utd (Lampard)
July 2002: Norwich 1-3 West Ham Utd (Sinclair, Defoe, Cole)
July 2007: Norwich 1-2 West Ham Utd (Ashton, Spector)
They Played For Both
Mark Bowen, Robert Green, Albert Foan, John McDowell, Jimmy Neighbour, Matthew Rush, Alan Taylor, Steve Walford, Martin Peters, John Gurkin, Fred Kearns, Ted MacDougall,
Tony Cottee, Dean Ashton, Dale Gordon, Graham Paddon, Elliott Ward, Scott Parker, Craig Bellamy, David Bentley, David Cross, Calum Davenport, Justin Fashanu, Malky Mackay, Keith Robson, John Sissons.
2003/04 Matthew Etherington (a).
Former players who have managed Norwich are John Bond, Ken Brown, Archie Macaulay and current Canaries boss, Chris Hughton. Our former manager Glenn Roeder was also the Canaries manager.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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