December 5 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, February 23, 2012
There were many, many reasons why Saturday’s FA Cup exit was a disappointment – some more justified than others.
• Apparently two Bayer Leverkusen players had a souvenir squabble over Lionel Messi’s shirt in their Champions League clash with Barcelona last week. The pair probably thought they were lucky when Messi sorted them out with a shirt each – until a fuming Bayer sporting director Rudi Voeller ordered them to give up the shirts and auction them for charity. I’d expect a similar reaction from Paul Lambert should anyone in yellow fall at the feet of Wayne Rooney on Sunday – which we all know wouldn’t happen anyway.
• Manchester United assistant and former City man Mike Phelan was on a scouting mission at Carrow Road on Saturday. Russell Martin said he will have left with an unjust view of the Canaries’ capabilities – so far, this is the best explanation I have for City’s lacklustre efforts against Leicester.
• Those City fans of a Twitter persuasion will know of James Vaughan’s friendship with Foxes full-back Lee Peltier – and why Vaughan planned to sign out for a while following Leicester’s FA Cup win. The dangers of public banter.
Personally, I think £25 for a fifth-round tie was reasonable given what you can actually get for £25 out in the real world. Whether City actually delivered a £25 performance could probably be taken either way…
No. The big disappointment was for James Vaughan – for being one of two players having to front up to us nasty press boys after what should have been an enjoyable moment for him.
Instead he was left to field those questions about what went wrong, why some players who looked the part in Swansea couldn’t take a decent touch against Leicester, and all the other soul searching.
Credit to Vaughan – he did a fine fire-fighting job. It was just a shame he couldn’t really beam about his return to duty as well.
With debuts for January signings Ryan Bennett and Jonny Howson inching closer by the week, there is no doubt Vaughan’s return would be just like a third new arrival – which in itself tells a story of the striker’s injury woes at City so far.
Having spoken to him before the start of pre-season training, Vaughan emphasised his run of form during a lengthy loan at Crystal Palace last term.
Given the rather freak nature of his knee injuries to date here, the ex-Everton forward deserves a change of luck rather than any change in routines.
Howson, inset, has had to deal with similar, of course. The midfielder is finally in training with City’s first team having recovered from a December knee knock that has kept him out either side of his January switch from Leeds.
Some squads may struggle in those situations to integrate a new signing – but given the way City have gone about things since Paul Lambert’s arrival in 2009, you wouldn’t be alone in having full faith Howson already feels part of the Norwich group.
“You can feel a bit isolated when you’re injured because you’re not training every day with the boys,” said Russell Martin – part two of the ‘players fronting-up committee’ on Saturday. “But when you are around with the injured lads you make sure they are part of the banter and make sure they get plenty of stick as well – just to keep their spirits up really.
“You pop in and out of the physio room and check how everyone is, and when the group is together in the changing room you make sure they feel part of it.
“We have got a great staff in the physio room as well, and they are always lively and keeping everyone up.
“It’s a squad game and we are a really close squad, I think everyone has documented that.
“To be fair, when there has been injuries there has always been two or three, so they always seem to get each other through it. Hopefully we’ll stay clear of a few now.”
In which case, hopefully Zak Whitbread will bring Dani Ayala’s hamstring recovery along with his own, Vaughan and Howson have seen the last of Neal Reynolds – and the striker gets a more enjoyable return to Premier League action very soon.