April 18 2014 Latest news:
Friday, April 27, 2012
Many seasons ago now when there used to be a team worth watching in Coventry, I would join in with the barracking of certain players giving their all in the Sky Blue cause.
I distinctly remember former Everton and Aston Villa midfielder Kevin Richardson being a persistent target of the boo boys at Highfield Road for all the perceived ills of a side fighting another relegation battle to stay up.
Mind, they used to win those in the West Midlands back then. Not any more judging by last weekend’s events at both the Ricoh and Molineux.
Richardson was variously, (delete as appropriate), too old, too slow, too immobile to operate at the highest level. He was a player on the downward slide after title-winning success at both Everton and Arsenal. He wasn’t the only one.
Cyrille Regis turned it on when he felt like it. Dave Bennett fulfilled every possible misconception about the talented but maddeningly inconsistent wide player. Even that future Norwich City Hall of Famer Darren Huckerby was not immune to criticism in his very early days for a penchant to stray the wrong side of the offside line; when offside was a definitive case of black and white rather than degrees of inactive or active behaviour.
For Coventry, substitute Norwich or any other professional club in the land. Supporters have their favourites, they also have their anti-heroes. If a vocal enough minority share the same opinion, certain players run the risk of being regularly castigated if the rest around them are under-performing.
Every misplaced pass or header or shot or tackle merely re-affirms the terrace verdict. Not even the most blinkered fan would deny that is counter-productive. Yet it happens at every club. Maybe it is just human nature. We live in an age where the explosion of social media now reinforces the culture of snap judgements and decisions. Football supporters are no different. We invest so much time and hope and finance in a cause most of us were lumbered with through family ties or tribal loyalties. When things don’t run smoothly we demand answers. Or scapegoats.
Steve Morison seems to be the latest in the firing line. Morison was arguably City’s most effective performer in those first uncertain months of Norwich’s initial Premier League bow. Not just with vital goals but the way he bullied defences.
I distinctly remember Swansea’s and QPR’s centre back pairings enduring torrid afternoons at Carrow Road before Christmas. His Premier League goals in the wins over Newcastle, QPR and West Brom around the turn of this year ensured games like struggling Blackburn last weekend did not carry the clichéd ‘six pointer’ tag.
You sense Morison himself would not dispute the second half of his first-ever campaign at this level has failed to scale the same heights. Injury, Grant Holt’s consistent form and the evolving nature of Norwich’s tactical approach have all combined to lessen his potential impact.
I have heard him criticised for his work rate, for the lack of finesse to his game, for his attitude. Whether you believe that or not I didn’t see or hear too many dissenting voices when he was banging in the goals and harassing the life out of opposition defences.
Anyone who honestly believes Paul Lambert would allow players under his control to free wheel, to go through the motions to the detriment of the side is frankly deluded.
Morison is like the majority of his team mates; experiencing the Premier League for the first time, where rivals work out your weaknesses quicker than the Football League, where every club you face is packed with athletes who would not look out of place at this summer’s Olympics. If you are not ‘at it’ in this league, you get found out. Even if you are, on occasions it simply will not be good enough.
Morison has been the one singled out for a number of weeks if you take the temperature around Carrow Road at home games and not just following the widely reported vocal exchange with away fans at Ewood Park on a day of frustration all round. He won’t be the last. He is just the latest. Russell Martin has had his detractors in the past; so too John Ruddy following his arrival from Everton. Andy Hughes and Mark Fotheringham took their fair share of brick bats when times were really bad. Now they are really good.
Ultimately, supporters pay enough of their hard-earned money that they are fully entitled to praise or jeer in equal measure. Norwich fans have had to endure more than most over recent seasons.
But getting on the backs of players whose collective efforts ensured City not only reached the Premier League but will stay there again next season does no-one with this football club at heart any favours.