Six things we learned from Norwich City’s cruise to victory over QPR
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As the campaign finishes on a high note, David Freezer assesses the state of the Norwich City nation.
Age is no barrier for Wes
This romp against Rangers almost felt like a combined testimonial for Wes Hoolahan and John Ruddy.
We already know Ruddy is on his way out and he received a great reception as his seven years with City drew to a close. It was still Wes who stole the show though. Two goals and two assists capped off his ninth season in Norfolk fittingly.
In total the diminutive Irishman has scored seven goals and set up 11 in 33 league games this season – not half bad for a 34-year-old.
QPR could not cope with the Canaries playmaker as he reminded watching sporting director Stuart Webber of what he can do.
The Republic of Ireland international turns 35 this summer and is contracted for another campaign.
We can only presume he will remain and get his testimonial season, when much more love will be coming his way, in a similar vein to his winning of the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy before kick-off.
Dijks is a prized asset
The chances of Norwich City keeping hold of Mitchell Dijks are looking fairly slim going into the summer.
His latest buccaneering efforts demonstrated his pace and enthusiasm for going forward again but also included a determination not to be beaten defensively.
There was nothing too spectacular, when compared to some of the slamming tackles which have made him popular with City fans during his 15-game loan from Ajax, but he was effective.
The 24-year-old Dutchman linked well with Josh Murphy on the left but was occasionally caught out of position when trying to get forward against poor opposition.
He may well fancy his chances at forcing his way in at Ajax again now his confidence is up but could well have caught the attention of Premier League clubs.
If not, City must hope their use of the towering left-back’s talents will put them at the front of the queue if he does become available – and they can afford him.
Jerome deserves praise
Cameron Jerome can feel hard done by to not have even made the top three in the player of the season voting.
The striker should score more goals, his entire Canaries career has left fans frustrated by chances that he doesn’t take.
Just six players scored more goals in the Championship this season though.
His return of 16 goals in 41 games is more than respectable and the 30-year-old continued to give it his all even at the lowest points of the season.
Nelson Oliveira looked a bit off the pace yesterday having suffered a bout of flu in midweek and is likely to be first choice next season after 12 goals in 30 games in all competitions.
But Jerome demonstrated that he will still be an asset with his pace and power next season, particularly as an impact substitute – and his assist for the final goal was also extremely unselfish.
Home record broken
The Canaries have truly enjoyed the comforts of home this season and the cruise to victory over QPR was another enjoyable afternoon at Carrow Road.
Only Brighton and Reading picked up more than the 48 points City have managed on home soil – but no one has scored more goals.
Another four took that total to 55 goals in 23 games – an average of 2.3 per game – and that is the best return in the club’s history in the second tier.
That was previously 53, scored by the squad of 1962-63, and was comfortably better than the 44 scored by the title winning team of 2003-04.
Of course the horrendous away record which has caused City to miss out on the play-offs by 10 points are well documented. They finish as overall joint top scorers on 85 with champions Newcastle and play-off competitors Fulham.
Now it’s time to get the defence sorted. Over to you, Mr Webber.
Murphy is starting to learn
It’s been an unusual season for Josh Murphy but he will be stronger for it.
It was twin brother Jacob who jumped to the front of the queue of flying wingers, blasting his way to 10 goals before running out of steam.
Josh has taken up the mantle to finish the campaign strongly and there were signs against QPR that the 22-year-old has realised he needs to be more physical to succeed in the Championship.
Scored one, forced one good save, started the move for the fourth goal and generally had his marker James Perch on toast throughout.
Taking his tally to five goals and five assists in 28 league games is good progress. At least one of the Murphys has featured in each of the 51 games City played this season.
If both can start next season showing they have cracked the physicality of the Championship, we can finally see their styles dovetail for the first team next season.
There is room for sentiment
Football is a fast-paced world, full of players trying their best to look cool and passionate supporters eager to assess.
Yet yesterday at Carrow Road proved that sometimes there is room for sentiment and for some nice moments.
John Ruddy being named captain and receiving a fine reception throughout the game and the lap of appreciation – as well as generously being named man of the match – was heart-warming.
Voting for Wes Hoolahan to win the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy to make sure the Canaries legend has won it at least once was a fine recognition of his fantastic performance across nine years for the club.
Nostalgic chants about past players including Darren Huckerby, Simon Lappin, Paul McVeigh and even Anthony McNamee was good fun.
Making the best of a finale to a frustrating season was admirable though and will leave plenty looking forward to the start of next season already.
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