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Iwan Roberts: Time for Teemu to step out of the firing line?

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:54 09 October 2020

Lukas Rupp consoles Teemu Pukki after his penalty slip 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Lukas Rupp consoles Teemu Pukki after his penalty slip Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

The defeat to Derby was a tale of two set-pieces.

Iwan Roberts on reserve team duties at Colney, back in the day Picture: ArchantIwan Roberts on reserve team duties at Colney, back in the day Picture: Archant

The first was when the luckless Teemu Pukki slipped at the vital moment he struck his ill-fated penalty which clipped the top of David Marshall’s bar.

The second came in the final minutes when Wayne Rooney produced a vintage free-kick to win the game for Derby – a game that, let’s be honest, they never looked like winning and would have been delighted to have left Norfolk with a point.

You just knew when the ref awarded Derby that free-kick what the outcome would be with Rooney still on the pitch, even though he’d barely had a kick all game.

I don’t care how old you are – and it makes me laugh when people say that someone is well past their best – you simply don’t lose that quality when you;’rea player like Wayne Rooney....I guess that’s why I played until I was 37!

Adam Idah did not feature for the Republic of Ireland due to coronavirus concerns in the Irish camp 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdAdam Idah did not feature for the Republic of Ireland due to coronavirus concerns in the Irish camp Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I watched a large chunk of the game as I’d got to Ewood Park in plenty of time. In the first half I thought Norwich played well, they just couldn’t get that all important first goal. Had they got on the scoresheet first I’m convinced they would have gone on to win the game comfortably.

I really have so much sympathy for Teemu at the minute as I bet he thinks he can’t do anything right. I’ve been there myself on more than one occasion and it’s a slump that’s not easy to get out of.

Maybe he’d benefit from a spell on the sidelines for two or three weeks and let someone else carry the responsibility of being the main man up front scoring the goals – it’s not as if there aren’t any options.

I remember when Nigel Worthington rested me – I’d rather use the word rest than dropped – for a couple of games when I was in a bit of a goal drought. He could see I was struggling and my confidence was shot to pieces and that I needed a bit of time out of the team.

He came up to me after training one day, I think it was a Thursday morning, and told me that he was going with Zeema Abbey for the game on the Saturday. Of course, I wasn’t happy and I fought my corner, but deep down I was relieved that I was being taken out of the firing line for a while. I was angry at the time, but in all fairness Nigel was leaving me out for my benefit as much as anybody else’s as he could see I was having a hard time.

I was involved in a couple of reserve games, one of which was against Bournemouth at Carrow Road, and got amongst the goals, which did me the world of good, even though I was up against a 16-year-old boy who was still at school. But it didn’t matter, I’d got back in the habit of hitting the back of the net. I suddenly had a spring back in my step and within three weeks Nigel could see I was ready to be leading the line for the first team again.

One thing that caught my eye and impressed me on Saturday was Lukas Rupp’s reaction after Pukki’s penalty miss. He’s had a tough time since his move from Hoffenheim and is often the target of abuse when the team’s lost or played poorly, but he showed some class Saturday and just what a good team-mate he is.

As Pukki lay on the Carrow Road turf in disbelief at what had just happened, the only one of his team-mates who bothered to go and help him up and console him was Rupp, and all credit to him for doing that. That sort of thing goes a long way in my book.

Finally, I’d like to say well done to Ian Culverhouse and his players – not once but twice did King’s Lynn Town come from behind against Yeovil last Saturday to win a valuable point in their first ever game in the National League. It took a late Adam Marriott goal after he’d come off the bench to rescue a point for the Linnets and hopefully there will be plenty more to come from him.

Adam’s a grafter and was released by Norwich at a young age, but never gave up on his dream of playing football at a good level. He’s worked hard and persevered and his 28 goals in 31 games last year was a big reason King’s Lynn are now just one step from the Football League.

Things got even better for Ian and the lads on Tuesday night when they travelled to Maidenhead and won 3-2 thanks to two goals in the last eight minutes.


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