Robert Snodgrass: Which side were you on?

Robert Snodgrass. Robert Snodgrass.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
12:20 PM

Farewell Robert Snodgrass, the Argos Arjen Robben leashed to a lamppost.

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Not many Norwich City players have severed opinion quite like Robert Snodgrass.

There was no middle ground. Most were convinced that he was either Norwich’s best player, the conductor of all things good, or he was a whingeing, tumbling, one-footed blind alley.

Truth is, he was both.

Our first glimpses of him were promising. Shoulders hunched, head down, left foot gnawing away at the ball, right foot an accessory; he was an Argos Arjen Robben. He attacked defenders, created chances and, with more pace, may have wooed a top-six club.

Yet, as every performance became a slightly smudged carbon copy of the previous one, doubts surfaced. Last season, those doubts turned to frustration, and, with some fans, frustration turned to anger. Defenders had got wise to him. Snodgrass, it seemed, wasn’t savvy enough, and his game not nuanced enough, to react to this.

He spent most matches engaged in his own tantric football, where the pass always came too late. He ran like he was giving someone a piggyback and when attacking would barely shift from a small circumference on the right of the penalty area, yapping and straining like a dog leashed to a lamppost.

His increasing predictability meant that you could at least take your mind off the on-pitch horrors by playing Snodgrass Bingo: uses left foot when he should use right; cuts inside when he should hit the byline; loses the ball and falls over; moans at a referee after falling over; slows down attack; strikes the first man from a corner; tracks back without marking someone. Bingo!

That final point – his tracking back – was where you would find out which side of the Snodgrass fence fans were on.

Many admired his “work-rate”, “guts” and “passion” for running back, using it as proof that here was a man who put the team first and gave the mathematically dubious 110% every match. Problem was, when he did get back, he made roughly 0% effort to tackle or close down. His tracking back was just keeping up appearances, a man stepping in to break up a fight after it’s already fizzled out.

There is still a very good player wrapped up in the enigma of Snodgrass. He was outstanding during Norwich’s unbeaten run in 2012-13, when he replaced Elliott Bennett. With Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington joining him in a three ahead of two holding midfielders, Norwich were penetrative across the width of the pitch.

This year, far too much of Norwich’s play was directed through Snodgrass, like he’d set up roadblocks to divert the traffic his way. Despite the amount he saw of the ball – and at times it bordered on stalking – he ended the season with just two Premier League assists to his name.

We shouldn’t forget Chris Hughton’s role in this. If Snodgrass became one-dimensional, it was because the manager didn’t employ an attacking coach. If Snodgrass slowed down attacks, it was because Hughton insisted on playing him only on the right, despite it becoming increasingly clear that he isn’t a natural winger at the top level.

He cut inside so often from the right that you started to wonder if he was actually wing-phobic, the sight of the advertising boards and white lines giving him the shivers. Greater still was his fear of the left, which existed somewhere around Nigel Farage levels. His reluctance to swap flanks throughout matches was as self-serving as it was detrimental to the team.

Instead, his attributes – good first touch, quick feet (or foot) and a feel for space – have always suggested he would be better suited to playing at No.10.

Neil Adams recognised this and nudged him into the hole, where his staccato dribbling was still infuriating but often more penetrative. Even when he stumbled down blind alleys playing centrally, at least those alleys led into the penalty box. Too late, we had a tantalising – but ultimately depressing – glimpse of what could have been.

So farewell Robert Snodgrass. We will miss your left foot, your goals, your beard, your celebration, but we won’t mourn your stumbling, stalling and moaning. You were the best of players, you were the worst of players. Now you are Hull’s to argue about.

• Daniel Brigham is features editor of The Cricketer magazine. He tweets at @cricketer_dan

13 comments

  • What a strange title to an article. I was in the River End and occasionally the Barclay. They're not sides are they?

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    ToxicGasWarningSystem

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • .....Brew on the 17th September 2013...I posted "Snodgrass is an overrated cart horse", as I've said before. But minority opinions are never taken notice of—until it's too late.....Ma and Pa and her dumplings are never far from my mind!.....

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    Stew Pydsodd

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Damnlie Bighar is a bigger bull$h!tt€r than Patrictus Devott. Result there, Paddy! Congrats, all round, or cylindrical. OLDYELLA`s description of Snoddy sounds a bit like a pile of haemorrhoids. Always conspicuous and a pain in the ar$€. What saddens me a bit is that Stew Pydsodd didn`t notice earlier. It was so obvious. We should have heeded his counsel. And whither Pa Snipps` Chevron now? We are surely doomed. As are Ma`s delicious dumplings.

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    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Great bit of business. He was great at running into dead ends. The fact that he was the highest scorer for City does not mean too much when the two main strikers scored half a dozen goals between them.

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    stormy

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • gone and already forgotten. Great bit of business to get rid. Now we can have a collective team and not a team around Snodgrass. And to those who say he was all passion and a football man.. Really!!!! an arrogant player not as good as he thought he was and all too ready to mouth off too much to the fans!

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    Hitman79

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • My NCFC senses are tingling....I sense an article about the Ipswich & Brighton fixture dates being moved.........

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    Mattias333

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Excellent article. Mr Marmite has left the building. I would have been okay with keeping him, but most of my mates are glad he's gone. The fee means I am pleased too as long as it is well invested.

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    el dingo

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Robert was what football is all about, Passion, Commitment, and a never ending energy supply, sorely missed by me, hard to replace.

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    OLDYELLA

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • I'd like to have seen Snodgrass under a manager who knew he was a left winger. It was hard to criticise his predictable crossing and inability to go past his man when he was playing on the wrong side. If you have to cut back inside all the time to cross a ball, it's very easy to defend. If you go to the byline and curl it back, it's easy to attack. Hughton never figured this out. Redmond on the right and Snodgrass on the left would've meant more goals for our strikers.

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    Colin

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Nicely summarised because Snoddy was always difficult to critique. One thing I would add is that I have never seen him maintain fitness for more than 60 minutes. This was apparently also the case at Leeds. I wish him well at Hull - a club him could do well with.

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    G.Had

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • …..The sun hasn't stopped shining in Norfolk for two days....What on earth is that all about?....Further North on the East Coast, it may be doing the same....At the only Premiership Club in Yorkshire ...It may be the 'Calm before the Storm'!....Our story writer gave his opinion underneath a 'Questioning Headline' and like many followers of this club did not really reach a conclusion....mud into water! ..I again put to paper that after watching his contribution to Norwich City over the last 2years I am pleased that he thinks HIS future lies elsewhere.!....I feel that many attitudes could change within the club...for the better!...and many will feel released from the 'There's only one Robert Snodgrass' situation that had engulfed them....What's New....Harmony in the Dressing Room!.....

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    Stew Pydsodd

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Excellent piece. In the end i think we can be a better and more direct side without him. Defenders hate pace and he lacked it while Redmond and Murphy have it in bundles. I started as an admirer but finished frustrated by his limitations and predictability, stop, wait for contact, buy free kick, take free kick. No one can doubt the physical effort but that is a necessary but not sufficient quality in a footballer.

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    dumpcanary

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Do we really need to pick sides??? Lets focus on the future. The prospect of Redmond and Bennett being given the freedom to be the naturally attacking wingers they are is good enough to help me sleep at night following Snods transfer. Clearly from Snods leaving interview his head was else where more than any of the other names mentioned so lets move on. For all the good he did in the first season (6 goals, 9 assists), he was equally as bad (like many other players) last season (6 goals, 3 assists). Hopefully we will see a really positive transfer in to take peoples mind of this. Its not the end of the world guys, it really isnt. Personally I think Snod would have done really well at championship level, but 7 to 8 million for a player of Snodgrass ability you just cant turn down. Then add in the fact it was the last 12 months of his contract and it could go down as some of the best transfer business in history!

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    Mattias333

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

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

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