Norwich City under Chris Hughton keep defying laws of science
14:50 05 December 2012
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Science is all the rage at the moment and Professor Brian Cox might like to consider basing his next television series around Norwich City.
The Canaries’ latest win over Sunderland underlines their status as a team with the power to baffle the boffins.
It ought to be impossible to sweat when temperatures are hovering around 0 Celsius but 25,000 people were experiencing that very sensation at Carrow Road on Sunday afternoon.
As Sunderland pounded on the door for almost the entire second half, desperately chasing an elusive equaliser, Norwich fans will have been loosening scarves and pulling off gloves in defiance of the freezing temperatures. It can feel very warm very quickly when you’re nervously watching from the edge of your seat for 45 minutes.
The Canaries’ excellent recent form defies logic. The first half of the Sunderland game was arguably the most impressive 45 minutes of their season so far.
This wonderful run of nine games unbeaten, including wins over Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham, could not possibly have been predicted by any mathematical formula the men in white coats might have developed after watching Norwich struggle through the first six weeks of the campaign.
Once Professor Cox has got his giant brain around that, I would like him to have a look at the goals Norwich have scored at Carrow Road in the Premier League this season.
One very observant supporter has noticed a trend which continued on Sunday. Every single Premier League goal scored by City at home since April has been at the Barclay end. Andrew Surman’s effort in the 6-1 defeat by Manchester City on April 14 was the last top flight goal the Canaries have managed at the other end.
River End regulars have been treated to a little taste of Norwich goal action in the League Cup but if this trend continues they might like to try and negotiate a discount on next year’s season ticket. Or at least buy a pair of binoculars.
There is definitely something odd going on with Norwich at the moment but perhaps the most likely explanation for all these quirks lies at the door of the manager. Chris Hughton appears to have wonderful powers of foresight.
On Saturday afternoon he went to watch Norwich’s opponents in the third round of the FA Cup, Peterborough United, lose 4-1 to Blackpool in The Championship. It may seem to be a fairly straight forward scouting mission until you remember that the game took place a full 24 hours before the cup draw was even made.
How could Hughton possibly have known that a jaunt along the A47 would be quite so useful? Norwich won’t go far wrong while they have got a manager with such mystical powers.
• GOALKEEPER COACH DESERVES PRAISE FOR RUDDY RESURGENCE
John Ruddy caused a flurry of activity in the press box at Southampton last Wednesday night and he wasn’t even at the ground.
He took to Twitter around an hour-and-a-half before kick-off to announce that his thigh injury needed surgery and would keep him out for three months.
It was the news Norwich fans had been fearing and by revealing it Ruddy almost caused a few muscle strains amongst the reporters at St Mary’s.
We were right in the middle of crucial pre-match preparations, by which I mean stocking up on hot drinks in anticipation of a chilly old night, when suddenly we had a Ruddy medical bulletin to pass on to an audience of fretting City supporters.
Players clearly do not realise the dangers of forcing football reporters into action before they have had time for a proper warm-up.
We tend to be less coiled springs and more like those spring-shaped toys that were all the rage in the 1980s that used to go down the stairs, very slowly, one step at a time. I believe they were called Slinkys.
John Ruddy has been one of Norwich City’s most consistent performers over the last two-and-a-half years so losing him is undoubtedly a blow but the decision to bring in Mark Bunn in August now looks like a particularly good one.
He has impressed in his short Canaries career so far and with two fine young goalkeepers in Declan Rudd and Jed Steer standing by if needed Norwich ought to be able to negotiate the next few months until Ruddy tweets that he is ready to play again.
It is also a good time to talk up one of those unsung heroes in football, the goalkeeping coach. Every club has one these days and yet they very rarely get mentioned. Norwich have one of the very best in the business in David Watson who is highly-rated enough to have been Roy Hodgson’s choice for the role when England play.
Watson was with Chris Hughton at Birmingham where he worked with some of the finest number ones in this country.
Joe Hart and Ben Foster both had loan spells there while the Blues’ current first choice Jack Butland has big things expected of him after playing for Great Britain at the Olympics. It is no coincidence that John Ruddy seems to have got even better this season when on a day-to-day basis he is in, if you’ll excuse the pun, such good hands.
The importance of having a solid goalkeeper in the Premier League was underlined a little more than two hours after Ruddy’s tweet. Robert Snodgrass scored an important equaliser for Norwich when his free-kick squirmed through the hands of Southampton’s Paulo Gazzaniga.
The 20-year-old from Argentina joined the Saints in the summer but don’t be fooled into thinking he’s swapped South America for Southampton. They didn’t get him from River Plate, Boca Juniors or one of the other iconic names of club football from that part of the world.
They signed him from Gillingham, which is probably not the most obvious place to look for an Argentine goalkeeper.
That was not the only South American surprise to come out of the trip to St Mary’s. I was thrilled to discover that Saints midfielder Gaston Ramirez was actually born in the Uruguyan city of Fray Bentos. It brings a whole new meaning to that popular terrace chat of ‘Who Ate All the Pies?’