Scary stats reveal root of problem for struggling Norwich City
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Two statistics really jump out at me this week.
Firstly, who are the joint top scorers in Premier League games at Carrow Road in 2012? As we enter the 10th month of the year, there are no prizes for guessing that one of them is Grant Holt.
For me he remains the most likely man to find the net for the Canaries.
He is certainly a way off being at his best at the moment and I will come back to him further down this column but he did manage to get his campaign up and running during Saturday’s humiliation.
It was his sixth league strike at our home ground of the calendar year – so who shares that honour with him?
Yes, sadly it is the man we all love to hate but from a footballing point of view have to admit through gritted teeth he is lethal.
Suarez must be praying we stay up so he can have more trips to Norfolk.
That is a worrying fact and says something about our shyness in the final third.
The second stat relates to the other end of the park.
With Sebastien Bassong in the side City have let in just two goals in three games (we’ll ignore the handful of minutes he was on the pitch at Newcastle).
And in the other three matches when he hasn’t played, 11 goals have leaked in.
Yes there are lies, damned lies and statistics, but there is something significant about that.
After we shipped five against Fulham I gave five reasons to be cheerful.
And while I’m not cutting up my season ticket and accepting relegation as inevitable, I feel the weekend’s mauling means I have to go for the five reasons to be fearful.
So I’ll kick off with the “Bassong factor.” It is a worry that we appear so reliant on him to be able to have a solid back line. Three draws when he has featured and three losses when he hasn’t.
One man doesn’t make a team – but that man makes a huge difference and Leon Barnett looks lost without him.
Secondly, what saddened me most on Saturday was how flat the performance was. I hate losing but if Norwich go down fighting to a better team I will hold my hands up and admit we were second best. The amount of passion shown was a big debating point on Canary Call after the match – and I come down on the side of those fans who felt there wasn’t enough commitment. We let them play and didn’t get in their faces. Surely taking on Liverpool at home should be one of the highlights of the campaign? It didn’t seem like it. We are clearly going to be in a relegation scrap – and us fans will not accept a lack of fight.
Thirdly, I am fearful about where the goals will come from. Holty hasn’t lost it and he finished very well on Saturday. Whether he can reproduced his superb strike rate from last year will be a crucial factor for our ability to stay up.
If he can’t, who will step up to the plate?
My next concern is about the man who could be as important to our revival as Bassong is. David Fox.
If I had a pound for every time his name was mentioned before, during and after the match on Saturday, I’d be nicely off. Surely he has to be involved? So why isn’t he?
Finally, I am worried about City’s 12th man (and I include myself in this).
We shouldn’t be so low and negative and gloomy at the start of October. But sadly we are.
Somehow the mood has to be lifted.
• I’M SWAPPING STAMFORD BRIDGE FOR ALDISS PARK
There are very few occasions when my mind is elsewhere at a time when the Canaries are playing.
Even if I’m not at the game, I will be watching it at the local pub, or listening to Chris Goreham and friends on BBC Radio Norfolk.
But I have to confess that this Saturday – while keeping tabs on the goings-on at Stamford Bridge – I will be concentrating on Dereham Town’s FA Cup third qualifying round tie against the Met Police at Aldiss Park.
I have spent 40 of my 42 years living in Dereham. I’m a very proud Dereham-ite and used to watch the team on the old Rec and that was spectating at its most basic.
The club has seen a meteoric rise from those days.
The Magpies have one of the best grounds in the county and the playing surface would be the envy of some league teams. On the pitch, Matt Henman’s boys have won 11 and drawn one of their opening 12 matches this season and they are now just two games away from the first round proper of the FA Cup.
The Met Police will provide a very tough test this weekend and they are two rungs higher up the football ladder than Dereham.
But if the Dereham lads can play to their full potential, who knows what may happen.
If you are not going to West London, please consider heading to Aldiss Park as they deserve a bumper crowd to cheer them on.
• Hero of the week: I’m not a massive golf fan but after a fairly depressing weekend following City’s mauling and being reminded about it by everyone I met, the Ryder Cup victory was really sweet. There were so many heroes among the 12 players (and of course captain Jose Maria Olazabal). For me the one who shone brightest was Ian Poulter. I just loved the passion he showed. That’s what we want at Carrow Road. Tremendous.
• Villain of the week: Ok, I know this comes from a combination or sour grapes and jealously. My boo boy gong this week can go round the neck of a certain L Suarez. I enjoy a panto and I’m not afraid to admit it. And while I always jeer and hiss at the “Mr Nasty” and dislike most of what he does, there is somehow always something that I admire about him. Yes, our defence made the panto fairy godmother look like Scrooge on Saturday. But while hating what the number 7 did to us, he was fantastic. Boo hiss.
• Highlight of the week: Certainly nothing during the 90 minutes on Saturday. But before the horror show started we had a great tribute to John Bond. Full credit to the Liverpool fans for starting the applause and it was a fitting way for us all to remember the great man. Like so many 40-something City supporters, he was my “first manager.” Maybe we should have all had a cigar and worn a sheepskin coat to the game....
• Funniest moment of the week: It’s hardly been a vintage week for footballing humour, unless you enjoy your comedy in the dark form. I could make something out of City’s defending (but won’t). So it falls on dear old Fergie’s outburst over the lack of added on time at the end of Man Utd’s defeat against Spurs to get the award. Come on Sir Alex, your team losing out to refereeing decisions at Old Trafford? You must be joking.
• Prediction of the week: Sadly I’ve gone for 4-1 Chelsea on Saturday. I hate predicting that the Canaries will lose but I just can’t see beyond that. I went 3-1 Liverpool last week and was unfortunately over-optimistic. I’m not a gambler, but if I was I’d be asking for odds on City, QPR and Swansea all suffering the ultimate result of second season syndrome.....