Iwan Roberts: When injury was a blessing in disguise

PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 July 2020

Norwich City's Kenny McLean feels the pain Picture: PA

Norwich City's Kenny McLean feels the pain Picture: PA

PA Wire

Thirty seven games down and just one to go in what has been a season of a few highs, but, sadly, far too many lows .

It all ended in relegation without much of a fight and some record lows that the players will have to live with for many years to come.

For all of us, the end of the season can’t come soon enough, and the players will feel exactly the same.

I know I did after my first season at Norwich – my worst by a country mile in my 20-year career.

Even though towards the end of the season I’d started to find a bit of form, scoring three goals in our last four games, for weeks I’d been counting the minutes down to our final game away at Reading – and that final whistle at Elm Park couldn’t come quickly enough for me.

Iwan Roberts' joy at sgning for Norwich in 1997 was tempered by a disappointing debut season... although it worked out well in the end Picture: ArchantIwan Roberts' joy at sgning for Norwich in 1997 was tempered by a disappointing debut season... although it worked out well in the end Picture: Archant

I just wanted to get away from everything and forget about the previous 10 months. Like a few of these current players, I’d been called everything under the sun and it wasn’t nice, believe you me. I don’t know why, but I’d read the letters page in the EDP and the Evening News and every single letter was about me and how I was the worst signing the club had ever made.

I’m not stupid and I could understand people’s frustrations: here is a player the club paid nearly £1m for and he’s scored five - yes, five - league goals all season and just one in our opening 23 league games.

The harder I seemed to try the worse things got. It was a bit of a blessing three months into the season when I found out that I had arthritis in one of my big toes, which meant I couldn’t do anything for a month.

All I could do was rest and have treatment, which was a big relief to me as it meant for at least a few weeks I’d get a respite from being slaughtered every time I set foot out on Carrow Road.

That last game away to Reading was anything but a classic on a very muddy surface – it was actually the last game ever to be played at Elm Park before they moved to The Madejski.

We won 1-0, thanks to Craig Bellamy’s 13th league goal that season.

After the game I couldn’t wait to get back on the team bus, get back to Norwich and get away from everything and everyone for a few weeks and try and forget about that season. I was determined to make sure that when I came back for pre-season training I was firing on all cylinders and raring to go to prove the doubters wrong.

Some of these lads will feel exactly the same as I did 22 years ago, and that’s why there was no way over the last few weeks I was going to slaughter any of them, including Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke.

They are good people and I’ve a lot of time for both. They know better than anyone how bad this season has been and they will be 100pc determined to put things right. Nobody will work harder than the two of them trying their utmost to build a squad capable of winning promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

They both know mistakes have been made but they will learn from those mistakes.

Webber will be a better sporting director from learning from those mistakes and for sure Farke will be a better head coach. They are both young and hungry for more success, and let’s all hope they can find that with Norwich City.

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