Thursday, January 10, 2013
Back in the day January was all about the deep winter blues. Now it seems to be dominated by desperation – in football, at least.
• In the land of unintended consequences, it appears covering a home Olympics means you have a lot of holiday to take come the end of the year – hence what bordered on a personal festive football blackout over Christmas and New Year. That said, Manchester City’s visit provided enough action to spread across all four games. But given the turkey, trimmings and trees are a rapidly fading memory, it’s time for the Canaries to get back to what served them so well before December – getting positive league results. If they could match my predictions for the Pinkun, then all the better – I’m far more in need of the points than Norwich.
• It seems the trip to Peterborough wasn’t even a contest, which I guess spoke more for the hosts’ plight than City’s top-flight status. And with drawing Luton in the fourth round, you have to wonder if City are going to get a second chance at a cup run this season. Speaking of which, well done to City for their pricing of Luton’s fourth round visit at £10 for adults. It promises to be a cracker.
It’s hard to imagine a good argument for the mid-season transfer free-for-all, other than one put forward by Sky Sports.
Not that the free-for-all actually starts until the end of the month.
I should probably add at this point that while I think the idea of restricting signings to about 31 days immediately following the hectic festive period seems intrinsically stupid, I love the drama of a transfer deadline day.
Getting two a year is like doubling Christmas.
And I bet a few players and agents are thankful for the artificial market and ludicrous prices stoked up by the window restrictions.
You won’t have to look very hard to find a player somewhere pleading for either more respect, more opportunities or dare I say more money – usually eyeing the beneficial consequence of a different shade of grass to play on. And maybe a new contract.
It is a backdrop that should not be forgotten when reading Elliott Bennett’s excellent post-match interview following the Canaries’ procession in Peterborough.
Bennett was a long time coming to Norfolk – it took two windows convincing Brighton to part with one of their star performers.
And it would be an interesting debate over whether the winger – who has only just turned 24 – has fully delivered on the expectations fans had of him when he arrived in June 2011.
But Bennett has certainly played his part in City’s Premier League stability over the last 18 months, and judging by his efforts on Saturday there is more to come.
His three Premier League starts this season have not been added to since the draw at Aston Villa in October, but Bennett took his opportunity at London Road to show he has another role to offer Chris Hughton – and then after full-time, made the point he’s more than happy to bide his time.
After all, he has the job. He has the opportunity. He has the health. He has the belief.
Yes, the frustration is a given. Players are only going to be at their happiest when playing regular competitive football – the more of it, the better.
But still, to hear such a grounded response to how he deals with those frustrations said a lot about the winger’s temperament and where it can take him.
And that attitude will be more than refreshing come February.