Norwich City have a top operator in their midst

Norwich City striker Gary Hooper raises his arm in celebration after a stunning strike in Sunday's 1-1 Premier League draw against Swansea City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City striker Gary Hooper raises his arm in celebration after a stunning strike in Sunday's 1-1 Premier League draw against Swansea City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Monday, December 16, 2013
8:30 AM

All the top operators play with that wonderful sense of arrogance and self-belief you need to flourish in the Premier League. Gary Hooper has it in abundance.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

"This time last season the campaign stalled horribly, but with senior first team players to return from injury and a January transfer window opportunity to embellish the playing resources Norwich look in a far healthier state."

Paddy Davitt

Hooper strikes you as a humble individual who would likely baulk at any comparisons with the very best. He would probably be right, given his Premier League career is still in the embryonic phase, but there was as much to admire in the celebration as there was to marvel at the dexterous impudence of his equaliser in a game where Swansea had established a degree of dominance.

Hooper merely stood with one arm raised as bedlam erupted around Carrow Road and his team-mates swarmed towards him to herald a finish that in its execution and technical ability had parallels with Luis Surarez’s opener against the Canaries last month at Anfield. Hooper’s celebration was reminiscent of Eric Cantona’s when the Frenchman produced an exquisite chip from outside the penalty area against Sunderland in 1996. Cantona’s body language was no less expressive than Hooper’s as Old Trafford rose in acclaim; as if it was the type of goal they routinely conjure rather than a brilliant virtuoso demonstration of talent and athletic co-ordination.

Cantona was a talisman who inspired a golden era under Sir Alex Ferguson. Hooper is rapidly emerging as a cult figure on the terraces and an essential component of Chris Hughton’s bid for Premier League improvement.

The 25-year-old has now plundered six goals in 13 Norwich appearances; tellingly three in his last four top flight games. City’s improved fortunes and forward momentum is hardly coincidental. They can now approach games in the sure knowledge they have a man with the capability to score at a productive rate.

Swansea’s opener owed as much to Sebastien Bassong’s inability to intercept Ashley Williams’ raking pass as it did Nathan Dyer’s spatial awareness to shrug off the home captain and regain his composure to lift over the advancing John Ruddy. Dyer’s goal sucked the life out of a vibrant opening from Hughton’s side that with each passing minute of the first half receded further until Hooper’s game-changing intervention. Johan Elmander’s touch diverted Steven Whittaker’s pass into Hooper’s orbit but few inside the stadium would have expected the audacious chest control and slashing volley that arced over Michel Vorm.

The lingering sense of disappointment was in Norwich’s collective failure to push forward from that bridgehead. Given Swansea’s gruelling schedule and Dyer’s unfortunate early injury exit the Canaries inexplicably found themselves pinned back in the final throes. It was a tribute to Michael Laudrup’s side that half-time brought sufficient respite to re-establish their authority again in those key midfield areas. Norwich threatened sporadically in the second half when Swansea ceded them the ball around the perimeter of Ruddy’s area after another move of rich promise foundered around the ineffectual Michu, yet the hosts still engineered enough chances to have completed a comeback which would have edged them into the top 10 at Swansea’s expense.

Jordi Amat fortuitously cleared Michael Turner’s initial header over after it cannoned against the back of his head. Vorm’s erratic afternoon, punctuated by miscued punches and a desire to test the patience of referee Michael Oliver, also brought a sharp one-handed parry to deny Hooper a second and Nathan Redmond’s urgency down the right produced sporadic delivery that on another afternoon may have brought greater reward. But that merely fuelled a sense of frustration over Norwich’s fitful attacking urges.

Swansea’s exertions at home and abroad may have become a factor if the visitors had been shaken out of their stylish stride over a prolonged period instead of allowing Jonathan de Guzman to set the same metronomic tempo in those congested central areas that allowed Jonjo Shelvey to become an increasingly influential figure.

Ruddy remained largely well-protected until he raced from his line to smother Shelvey’s attempted lift over him in the closing seconds. Wilfried Bony’s right-footed shot from 18 yards moments before was suitably close for Ruddy to spring to his left but Norwich undeniably fashioned the better chances.

Hughton’s side has performed with stealth and a consistency at Carrow Road which until the Hawthorns had eluded them on the road. In that context a point against a very cohesive Swansea outfit should not be disregarded lightly. Laudrup’s squad look more than capable of another top-half finish but crucially for the Canaries they retained a sense of forward momentum; albeit at a slower pace than they would have desired ahead of this latest match, but given the stop, start nature of their efforts in recent times it provided further proof Norwich can approach the festive period with renewed confidence.

This time last season the campaign stalled horribly, but with senior first team players to return from injury and a January transfer window opportunity to embellish the playing resources Norwich look in a far healthier state. And in Hooper they have a genuine Premier League predator in their midst.

18 comments

  • Hooper points the way for the future - assembling ambitious players who can reach a high standard as is the case with Southampton. .

    Report this comment

    mardler

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • ….Now for something completely different...21.00hrs.....It appears that Zola has resigned from Watford....Now where could he be heading I wonder ....Spurs?..WBA?...Fulham?...West Ham?... Cardiff?....Can't think of anywhere else at the moment...Any more for the carousel?.. ...Ho!..Ho!..Ho!.....

    Report this comment

    Stew Pydsodd

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • Much as I like Hooper, I feel Paddy is going a bit OTT here. I didn't see many parallels with Suarez's opening effort, and yes, he did raise his arm like Cantona did. Let's just hope he continues to score and play well

    Report this comment

    Preston Canary

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • Hi Timbo, I guess you could go back further with Hugh Curran, Ron Davies, Jim Oliver and the great Terry Allcock. I always thought RVW would be great in a strike team perhaps playing just behind Hooper. He has quick reactions, can spot a pass, hits a good cross and can win balls in the air as well as score with either foot or his head. If he and Hooper could score forty goals between them each season,even Hughton would consider picking them together. We live in hopes. Hooper is doing so much better than I thought that I am now having serious doubts as to whether I know anything at all. So glad I'm wrong and so pleased for Gary.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

  • Hooper definitely needs better service and he should get that once RVW is fit. We definitely need a quality CB to provide competition for places. Becchio looks out of sorts at this level. In fact he looks slow, over weight and unfit. It would be nice to trade him to Blackburn plus cash for Rhodes. Personally I would like to see the club buy a quality Right Back, Reserve Keeper and another decent Midfielder. Apart from Ruddy, Fer, and Hooper I don't think many of our team would get a run out at a top club.

    Report this comment

    Oz Canary

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • city arent that bad and definitely not too good either. The premiership is definitely 2 separate leages.I think most of us could have predicted the present top eight teams more or less as they are at present.the divide gets worse every year.

    Report this comment

    harry mcardle

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • yes agreed, hoolaoop and hoop could be lethal . But what worries me was Bassong inability to deal with the colossal Dyer in the air !! I`m glad he`s signed up for us but he has to get back to last years commanding form , so far i think he has been very beatable all over the park . Cut out the stupid errors and we would be 8 to ten pts better off so far. Not only his errors mind !!

    Report this comment

    marcohendy

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • Young Redmond is a fine player with a big future, but will the coach please encourage him to pass the ball to a teammate in a better scoring position rather than blindly shooting. He has a long way to go to be another Johnny Gavin. The same applies to Snodgrass who is an excellent workhorse but retains the ball down the right far too long, often cancelling out a potential threat to the defending side. On the brighter side it is good to see we are a little further away from the bottom. I had a lovely surprise the other day walking along Jetty Rd Glenelg South Australia a young man and his wife came out of a shop wearing a city shirt, we had a nice chat, he returns home for xmas. This old chap nearly 80 got on line immediately and ordered a NCFC shirt. Happy Xmas to all of you supporters. Derek

    Report this comment

    Adelaide Canary

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

  • Can we finally go to the stadium of light and come back with honours? I would like to think so, despite injuries that weve enough to push forward against a poor side bottom of the table.

    Report this comment

    johnty

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • If we ut RVW and Hooper in the same 11 we have to change the way we get the ball to them. Neither has the ability to out jump defenders, so we need to get the ball to them in other ways. For all his faults, Elmander does at least do the target man role well. I agree re Becchio, he's never going to succeed at Premiership level.

    Report this comment

    richard1

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • Hooper is starting to look a real class act and will probably get better yet, especially if we can improve the service to him and RVW. Could be a fantastic pairing. Admittedly I only saw MOTD but it was encouraging to see at last that we appeared to be challenging more for the ball including in the opponents half. We still need to improve further on that. We do need to get a really good dominating centre half. Could make a lot of difference.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • Looks like we're stuck with clueless Chris. He ain't resigning + they ain't sacking him. We've got a fantastic opportunity to put some points in the bank now...Sunderland, Fulham + Palace coming up ( not expecting anything against Man U). The last 4 games are a nightmare + we need to be safe before playing them. We also need strikeforce reinforcements ASAP. No use relying on the vexed Viking or the Dutch male model for goals. As things stand, if Hooper breaks his leg we're goosed.

    Report this comment

    Timbo

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • "Clueless Chris" I'll give you, Timbo but I cannot agree with your comments on RVW. Playing lone striker is no way to become acclimatised to the EPL but when he finds his feet and has adequate support, he will find the net.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

  • One major difference in the managerial merry-go-round is that Zola did the honourable thing and resigned when he knew he was not performing.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • I partly agree with you Wacs. The point I've made on other posts is that he never will have the type of support he needs @ City ie: the ball placed on his (sore) toe 10 yards out with only the keeper to beat. We need rufty-tufty centre-forwards who can create their own chances: see Boyer, Ted, Flecky, Iwan + Holty for details. Which is exactly why RVW ( tho talented) is the wrong type of forward for us...

    Report this comment

    Timbo

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

  • Elmander has been criticised often enough here but to be honest I felt he worked hard and did a good job on Sunday, holding the ball up. Bassong appears to have lost his way completely for some unknown reason and is not the dominant player he was last season. Hooper certainly appears to possess some firepower that has up to now been almost totally lacking. But I agree with those saying we need the likes of Hoolahan to provide decent support and delivery. As regards Becchio, it is hardly surprising he looks slow given the lack of football he has had here at Norwich. Finally I see that Ole is in the running for the WBA job. If he gets it, I think it will prove a shrewd decision.

    Report this comment

    malaga flier

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • An excellent goal from Hooper and he so nearly created another for himself earlier in the first half with a great individual run from the left wing. I still think we would have won the game had we introduced Hoolahan on the left or down the middle as he naturally creats chances that Hooper would thrive on. The formation at Sunderland will be key to our chances and Fer must be returned to central midfield rather than be a passenger on the left wing.

    Report this comment

    TrevorKeith

    Monday, December 16, 2013

  • Don't laugh Stew...I've just seen Neil Warnock in The Angler In Norwich......Come back Country Vicar....we love you really....

    Report this comment

    Timbo

    Monday, December 16, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Homes24
Jobs24
Drive24
MyDate24
MyPhotos24
FamilyNotices24
Weddingsite

loading...

Classifieds, browse or search them online now

The Canary magazine
Order your copy of The Canary magazine

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT