Opinion: Why Norwich City fans must not fall into the David Fox trap - do you agree?
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The successful return of David Fox to the Norwich City midfield against Fulham in the FA Cup on Saturday has opened up debate as to whether he should be welcomed back into city’s Premier League starting eleven. Here’s what a sports writer, Norwich City columnist and Canaries fan think about that possibility.
CHRIS LAKEY - SPORTS EDITOR
Football fans have a curious gift of actually being able to improve a player who isn’t actually playing.
David Fox is the latest in a line of Norwich City players who are touted as the answer to all the team’s ills – even though he has been absent from the club for half a season and has never started a Premier League game under the current manager.
His star has shone in absentia in much the way that Cody McDonald’s did when he was on loan at Gillingham for a season and scored 25 goals. Last season it was James Vaughan – in fact, whenever Vaughan scored for Huddersfield he suddenly became City’s saviour. Chris Martin is banging them in for Derby – “let’s get him back, why not?”.
Fox is a fine footballer – Paul Lambert always said he had “an uncanny knack of passing to a team-mate every time” – but City won’t be transformed overnight if he is included in the team.
We don’t see what he does in training, we know nothing of what happens behind the scenes – therefore, we don’t really know if Chris Hughton is right or wrong in not playing him. Yet it seems everyone is craving for him to be placed in the centre of the City midfield at Everton this weekend.
Fox is no doubt desperate to prove himself, but on the evidence of one FA Cup game, would you really put him in ahead of Leroy Fer, Bradley Johnson, Johnny Howson (if fit)?
SIMON HALL - NCFC FAN
Although City’s league position is reasonable and our squad is strong many fans are increasingly vocal with their conviction that they know so much more about team selection, tactics and policies than either the manager or, incredibly, the chief executive and the board.
David Fox was a very good Championship player for City and remains not only the best passer of a ball at the club but also arguably the only player who can create something from nothing with a cross field or long through ball, given the time to do so.
But, as unmatched as his passing is, time is a luxury in the Premier League and Fox is not renowned for his tenacious tackling or his defensive work. He therefore falls short of the all-round requirements of a Premier League midfielder where, against decent opposition, he would not be guaranteed the time to pick his passes and would also not offer the necessary defensive support.
Fox is an example of a player who gets better in the memory the longer he doesn’t play and, as good as he was against a poor Fulham side in the FA Cup, don’t forget he didn’t exactly set the world alight against Luton Town last season or at Barnsley on loan this season.
DAVID POWLES - NCFC columnist for EDP and Norwich Evening News
There are parallels to be drawn between Chris Hughton’s treatment of Wes Hoolahan and that of David Fox.
For whatever reason they are not his type of players. I’m guessing it is because they do not provide the complete package. Players like Leroy Fer and Bradley Johnson can run and pass and tackle and head, but someone like Fox can pass, run (but not that fast) and isn’t a great tackler.
But what he does do, he does very well and it is to Norwich City’s detriment that Hughton can find no way of including both Fox and Hoolahan in the first eleven.
I’ve often referred to Fox as Norwich’s Paul Scholes, in his pomp I think he’s that good, but to be effective he needs someone around him who can do the ugly stuff.
Clearly there are those that argue that the Fulham performance created a false impression of his talents, in that he was afforded longer on the ball than he would be in the Premier League.
I disagree. Players like David Fox have a knack of making time stand still for them, creating space to weave their magic.
The saying goes that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Norwich need fixing so what is there to lose?