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Friday, January 18, 2013
A point is a point at the end of the day, and while many of you will have been disappointed leaving Carrow Road after the 0-0 draw with Newcastle last Saturday afternoon, it was a decent result in the end.
After all, it ended a run of four consecutive defeats for Norwich City in the league and that is vital in itself. Even though Newcastle have been having problems over the past few weeks it was never going to be a formality to brush them aside and send them back to the north east pointless.
It wasn’t a classic by any means, but there was plenty of hard work, grit and determination from the lads. However, in the end they just lacked that little bit of imagination and quality they needed to take all three points. I thought they were going to sneak it towards the end of the second half, but to be fair I don’t think either side did enough to win the game, both being limited to very few goalscoring opportunities. In fact, it’s difficult to remember one clear cut chance when you thought “He’s got to score there”!
We all know that the team can play a lot better, but it’s another point closer to that total of 40 which is generally accepted as the magic number of points necessary to ensure Premier League survival. Personally I think that a tally of 35 or 36 will be enough, but for everyone’s peace of mind let’s get to that 40-point mark sooner rather than later.
Still no new arrivals at Norwich City, but with 13 days of the transfer window remaining there’s plenty of time for Chris Hughton to get reinforcements in. A couple of names have been mentioned prominently: Gary Hooper of Celtic and Swansea’s Danny Graham.
I like each of them as strikers, and both would definitely strengthen the Canaries’ options up front. It’s not a secret that the forwards have struggled to find the back of the net as often as they did last season, and it’s not for their lack of trying. It’s a tough job up there when you’re the lone striker, and it is an invariably isolated one at times, as I have experienced having played that sole striker role on quite a few occasions.
Hooper has had a fantastic time since his move from Scunthorpe United to Glasgow. He has scored 69 goals in 115 appearances for Celtic, which is a tremendous record. I know that the standard of the SPL is not as strong as it once was, but all I would say is that Gary has scored some vital goals for the Hoops in the Champions League and recently has been spoken about as a future international.
Whether Chris Hughton could persuade him to come to Norfolk when his current club has a mouth-watering last 16 tie against Italian giants Juventus in the Champions League in the next few weeks is questionable, but only time will tell.
I’ve seen Danny Graham many times over the past two years with my work for Radio Wales. I like him a lot and think he’s a good, honest lad. Big Malky Mackay signed him for Watford, for whom he did very well before his move to South Wales for £3.5m.
He’s a forward who’s used to playing up front on his own as that’s how the Swans have set up for the past few years. He scored 12 league goals in 36 appearances last season, which was a strong return in his first season at the club. However, he’s been in and out of the side since Michael Laudrup took over in the summer. He’s had to be patient at times this season but in the past few weeks he’s been back to his best, scoring four goals in his last four appearances, including goals against Arsenal and Chelsea.
It is only pure speculation whether either of these players will arrive at Norwich in the next few days.
One thing that is certain is that Chris Hughton is keeping very tight-lipped about any transfer targets he has in mind, and rightly so because as a manager you want to keep your cards very close to your chest as you can’t go round alerting any other managers as to who you want to buy.
• IMPROVING REDS ARE STILL A LONG WAY FROM THE FINISHED ARTICLE
Tomorrow it’s a trip to Merseyside to face Liverpool.
Brendan Rodgers is slowly starting to turn Liverpool around, but they are still a long way from breaking into the top four and further still from challenging for the title. I thought they were a bit unlucky last Sunday to lose to their bitter rivals Manchester United, especially with the fight they demonstrated in the second period. However, in their nine games leading up to that fixture they had won seven, scoring plenty of goals in the process.
If Norwich are going to come home from the north west with any kind of a result they are going to have to be at their very best defensively to keep key man Luis Suarez quiet. He’s been outstanding this season, and if anything Liverpool have been over-dependent on him. We need no warning of what he is capable of after his last two visits to Carrow Road – six goals in two games tells you everything.
What I’d give to see Grant Holt score the type of header he did last season at Anfield tomorrow.