Chris Goreham: Perhaps Norwich City aren’t quite as nice as we all thought
PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:14 19 September 2017
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One of the most common sentiments actors express in interviews is that they prefer playing baddies.
In fact a quick internet search of the term “I prefer playing baddies” brings up that very answer from illustrious on screen talent like Nicole Kidman, Samuel L Jackson and Idris Elba.
This suggests that either showbiz reporters need to think of some new questions to shout at the stars on the red carpet or actors put so much imagination into their work that by the time they have to take on the promotional duties their creative juices are running dry.
It could also be because playing the villain can really be more fun as any Norwich City supporter who was at Bramall Lane on Saturday will have found out.
When your team has that narrow 1-0 lead away from home there is nothing sweeter than seeing your goalkeeper deliberate over which side of the six-yard box to take a goal kick from for longer than most of us take to make up our minds about what to eat at the motorway service station on the way home.
The boot had been very much on the other foot at Carrow Road a few days earlier when Burton Albion protected their point in that forgettable 0-0 draw with the same level of clock-watching care that the Canaries exhibited in holding on to their lead at Sheffield United.
One man’s time wasting is another man’s professionalism, depending on which team you happen to support.
What you must never do in these circumstances is let the opponents think they are getting under your skin.
This brings us neatly on to Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder who lost the moral high ground the moment he mistook the water bottles in front of the Norwich City dugout for a set of skittles and found himself sent to the stands during the second half.
His post-match rant, blaming everyone from City’s bus driver to the referee for the defeat, only served to sweeten the win for Norwich fans.
Wilder’s full-on Basil Fawlty impersonation was understandable because football has made everyone who cares about it feel like that at some point.
He is a successful manager who inspired the Blades to clock up 100 points on the way to winning the League One title last season and they hadn’t suffered a home defeat in a league game since January.
Losing a match comes as a particularly crushing blow in those circumstances and it really showed as he thumped the desk in the Bramall Lane press room as if he was about to sack all the reporters who were gathered in front of him.
Many of us didn’t believe that Norwich City had it in them to upset an opposing manager to that extent.
Having watched more than our fair share of capitulations on the road, including as recently as the previous away game at Millwall, there was real reason to worry that Norwich were the sort of ‘nice’ team that other clubs might enjoy playing against a little too much.
That’s why this win was so encouraging.
That ability to go to a form side, spoil their fun and grind out a victory is what successful Championship seasons are built on although it’s a trick that needs to be pulled off by the cunning Canaries more than once.
Wilder’s rant will be remembered for a long time by City fans and, assuming he’s still in charge when Sheffield United come to Carrow Road later this season, he will get the chance to find out whether or not it really is more fun to be the pantomime villain.
Nelson Oliveira’s injury has added weight to the theory that strikers are becoming the new goalkeepers.
The Portuguese forward’s groin problem, which is likely to keep him out until the next international break, had many Norwich City fans fretting about a possible shortage of options up front.
These are the same supporters who had spent the previous few weeks worrying intensely and justifiably about the City defence. Now, after three clean sheets, the focus has moved to the other end of the pitch. That sums up what it’s like to be a fan, there is always something to trouble the mind.
Most teams, including the Canaries, tend to only play with one out-and-out striker these days. Gone are the days when children wanted to be a goal poacher like Gary Lineker, Ian Rush or Alan Shearer in the playground. The superstars of world football now are those that play off a striker, a ‘number 10’ in modern parlance, such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Wes Hoolahan.
Strikers are still most often judged on how often they find the net but the role is now less about scoring goals and more about creating space and opening up opportunities for others.
So strikers and goalkeepers are united by the fact that only one of them gets in the starting XI. Being a third or fourth choice forward at a club can mean you are no more likely to play than a ‘keeper of the same rank.
The problem is that outfield players tend to pick up more injuries so clubs have a difficult job of making sure they’re not caught short up front without having a player regularly kicking his heels and being paid for not playing. It’s known as ‘doing a Kyle Lafferty’ in these parts.
Youngster Carlton Morris could have been that emergency forward for City this season but, given that he needs first team experience, it was decided that a spell on loan at Shrewsbury would be more beneficial than possibly being fourth choice at Carrow Road.
While Oliveira’s out fans will want Cameron Jerome wrapped in cotton wool with Marley Watkins now the only other senior striking alternative at the club. Once he is back we’ll breathe a sigh of relief before quickly finding another area of the team to fret about because that’s what football supporters do.