Video: Norwich City players take part in Fifa 13 Celebrity Cup
Copyright of Matthew Pover. ÊMoral rights asserted. All rights reserved in accordance with UK copyright laws. ÊAmendment 296Z
There was one thing on the mind following Saturday’s painful defeat to Liverpool – a comment piece I wrote following Paul Lambert’s departure in May, with its long, drawn out break-up metaphor.
• It’s fair to say a lot of footballers fill their days off with the same old stuff we all do – only last week, a few Norwich City lads got to do it in style.
John Ruddy, Elliott Bennett and Bradley Johnson made the trek from Norfolk to Manchester for the Fifa 13 Celebrity Cup, with varying degrees of success.
Big John looked the part – almost taking things as seriously as his gardening. Sadly he couldn’t compete with an Olympic gold medallist. Who could? London 2012 long jump champion Greg Rutherford won 2-0 and hopefully then looked as bemused as he did on August 4.
Johnson did his duty, beating Stoke striker – and August transfer target, I hear – Cameron Jerome in the first round, only to lose out to team-mate Bennett on penalties in the quarters. Reports all of Bradley’s spot kicks went over the bar are probably true.
Bennett seemed to be the main man in terms of City Fifa talent, beating Wigan Warriors and England rugby league star Sam Tomkins 5-0 in the first round – before going on to lose to eventual winner, Liverpool full-back Jose Enrique in the semis.
Again, whether Enrique’s exertions in Manchester played a part in him missing out on Saturday’s clash at Carrow Road were dead-batted by Brendan Rodgers. Possibly.
So hopefully Elliott Bennett has been busy bragging about his Fifa 13 exploits with his team-mates at Colney ever since.
Here’s also hoping he gets to show his talents on a real pitch soon too. City could certainly do with his pace and quality at the moment – maybe even those fast Fifa fingers.
And for where we all are at the moment, it seems a good time for a good friend to shake all around and say ‘snap out of it’ – because the current hangover being played out needs to end and home truths need to be told before we can work out what may lie ahead.
Firstly, none of this apologises for what is City’s worst start to a top-flight campaign.
When the Canaries have played well they’ve not taken their chances. When they haven’t played well, they’ve been hammered.
City are currently four points behind their tally from the corresponding fixtures last season – if you replace West Ham for Blackburn’s visit last term.
But there is nothing inevitable about what has happened so far – unless everyone decides it is.
Are City fans over Lambert’s departure – being dumped by their hero when hopes were so high for success under him to continue?
In truth, that saga was always going to end how it did. But each time a City fan wants four strikers on the pitch on 70 minutes, a total go-for-broke effort, formation changes moments after kick-off and three subs at half-time, they are yearning for Lambert’s City.
The man’s spell here – maybe the man himself if he finally gets Aston Villa firing – was a one-off. I’m not sure there are more than a couple of managers in the country who would satisfy those yearnings if they were here now.
And it’s not just the fans either.
I can’t second guess the players’ collective psyche – but if there is anyone sitting at Colney occasionally wishing for what was there this time last season, they need to get over it or get out.
Just because new people are in charge, they should still walk off that pitch after every game leaving every bead of sweat – every drop of energy – on it.
And maybe the hangover is also one to consider for Chris Hughton.
Tightening up City was a sensible priority after sifting through last season’s DVDs – but at what cost? As a certain ex-boss (some are afraid to utter his name) used to say, it’s about formations and philosophies suiting your players. Not the other way round.
Maybe that line is my own hangover – but no one needed to fear what City were when trying to turn them into something better.
As a mate succinctly said to me, no team has been relegated for scoring too many goals.
Clearly the Canaries are misfiring in their ‘second season’. Some things are not working and I expect to see changes at Chelsea in a bid to alter that – a game last season, like Arsenal at home, City took nothing from.
But if those already aching for a change do so because the manager isn’t Paul Lambert, rather than the fact it is Chris Hughton, I’m afraid they will never be satisfied.
The sooner all parties deal with that, the sooner the hangover will be over and – for now I believe – the sooner the points will come.