Chris Goreham: City's other players must ease the burden on lonely Jerome
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 November 2017
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Remember that day at Wembley when Cameron Jerome nicked the ball off Middlesbrough defender Daniel Ayala and stormed through to put Norwich City ahead in the play-off final? Of course you do, it’s one of the great moments in Canaries history.
What may have been forgotten over time is that many people expected Lewis Grabban to start that huge game. Alex Neil had shown a tendency to go with Grabban wherever possible during the storming start he made to his reign. Jerome’s semi-final strike against Ipswich was enough for him to get the nod and he repaid his manager’s faith in style.
Two-and-a-half years later and we have a strange situation where Grabban has scored more league goals for Norwich City at Carrow Road this season than Jerome. A fact made all the more remarkable when you consider Grabban left the Canaries in January 2016.
The own goal he accidentally netted when his current club Sunderland won 3-1 at City in August is one of only six goals that Norwich have managed at home in the league this season.
So, ex-Canary Lewis Grabban has scored 16 percent of their league goals at home to date. Nelson Oliveira has three with Harrison Reed’s excellent strike against QPR and Timm Klose’s recent header in the defeat by Derby accounting for the other two.
Norwich City’s lack of firepower is undermining what had begun to look like a promising season during that swashbuckling September when they rose from the bottom three to the verge of the play-off places and put the awful August behind them.
Jerome may have been guilty of spurning the best of the opportunities in Saturday’s defeat by Bolton but the way Norwich play, with one lonesome striker, means that other players need to weigh in with goals more regularly too.
James Maddison’s best moments have been away from home, he is yet to score a league goal at Carrow Road for City, the same goes for Yanic Wildschut. Josh Murphy is now the top scorer for the season but four of his six goals have been in the League Cup while Wes Hoolahan, Mario Vrancic and Marley Watkins are yet to score in the Championship this season.
Of course strikers carry the main burden for getting goals but part of Jerome’s responsibility is to bring others into the game and they need to start cashing the cheques that they are attempting to write with intricate build-up play.
A lack of cutting edge has left the defence which had been the foundation of that resurgence post-Millwall with little or no margin for error. It all means that 13th in the Championship is a fair reflection of where the Canaries are right now.
Daniel Farke has already proven that, with a couple of weeks on the training pitch, he can coach real organisational change into his side and this latest international break comes with a big question for him to answer about unlocking the attacking potential of his players and not just the strikers.
It is only a fortnight since Norwich City were 1-0 up with five minutes to go against Arsenal in the League Cup while sitting pretty in the top six of the Championship two days after winning the East Anglian derby. The 9,000 fans who were at the Emirates that night were part of the biggest away following for City since the play-off final.
The mood changes very quickly and, given the financial realities which were exposed by City’s accounts last week, it feels like everyone connected with the club needs a couple of decent results against Barnsley and Nottingham Forest before the visit of Alex Neil’s Preston to Carrow Road on Saturday, November 25.
That date is precisely two-and-a-half years since Monday, May 25, 2015 when Jerome scored that goal at Wembley for Neil’s Norwich.
Covering Norwich City over the past week has been the closest thing to having a school timetable since I was 16 years old.
There was a tough maths lesson when managing director Steve Stone and chairman Ed Balls talked to us about the accounts for 2016/17. Football commentators only usually need to count up to 90, or 95 if you include stoppage time, so figures in the millions can be very dizzying.
Having translated those numbers into what it will probably mean for the first team and showing my working it was time for a science lesson from that new German teacher Mr Farke.
If your star striker has been suffering from groin and calf problems what is the best method of treatment for him? I cannot have been the only one with the Dunce’s cap in the corner of the room who didn’t come up with the correct answer about sending them to see a Portuguese dentist.
The theory that a tooth infection may be the root of Nelson Oliveira’s niggling injury problems may sound odd but it is not unheard of. Steven Gerrard had a series of problems towards the start of his career and the Liverpool great even had his wisdom teeth removed. Some further homework has revealed reports about Robin van Persie and the former Chelsea player Florent Malouda going through the same treatment at the height of their Premier League careers.
Farke’s Friday register also included the news that James Maddison had been for a new haircut which was bound to make him the talk of the playground.
The school week ended with defeat against the bigger boys from Bolton but having interviewed Ivo Pinto after the match and heard about him playing on with a broken nose I have decided I might try and get in his gang.
The way he sported that mysterious white mask during the game suggests he’s definitely going to get the leading role on the school production of Phantom of the Opera anyway. He’s due to have surgery over the international break so let’s hope the Portuguese can work wonders with noses as well as teeth.