Michael Bailey: Former Norwich City winger Robert Snodgrass is a man on a mission at Hull City – as some at Carrow Road may be reminded
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James Maddison scored the best free-kick I’ve seen in years, with that late September winner for Aberdeen over Rangers. It was a thing of beauty.
It feels inevitable the youngster will end up back at the Dons for the rest of the season – despite, or maybe because of, turning out for City’s Under-23s last night.
But there was another free-kick that ran Maddison pretty close – a special goal from a certain Scot.
The life span of Norwich City players once they leave Carrow Road tends to be erratic and rarely successful – and Robert Snodgrass has had just that experience himself.
Neil Adams was still adjusting to life as a Championship manager when City’s player of the 2013-14 season – having beaten off competition from Carlo Nash – lasted just 40 minutes of his Hull league debut.
His dislocated knee cap was serious. It kept Snodgrass out of Tigers first-team action for almost 18 months during which they were relegated from the Premier League. That was with a recovery deemed far more rapid than was expected.
Last term was about easing himself back into the football routine and he duly helping Hull back to the top flight – at the expense of his former club among others.
And this season, the winger has arguably hit the form of his life. He is Hull’s leading league scorer with seven goals. The rest of his team has scored 10 – and Snoddy made two of those. No Tigers player has more assists either.
Plus, the Scotland international looks like a man on a mission – something that will remind Norwich fans of his time at Carrow Road.
That’s almost certainly why Snodgrass made such a swift and superb recovery from a career-threatening injury, and all at the age of 29 when most modern players either hit their peak or pass it.
Having been lucky enough to speak to Snodgrass on a number of occasions, there are few players I’ve spoken to who have openly cared more about how their football is going. That determination arguably put him offside with some fans in the Snakepit at times – and yet, he was assured and secure enough in himself to apologise for it too.
Perhaps the big question for Hull supporters at the moment is what mission Snodgrass is actually carrying out? He couldn’t keep Norwich up three seasons ago; no doubt he doesn’t want to experience it again at what is a weaker squad than the one the Canaries had in 2014.
But with that contract he signed on leaving Carrow Road ending this summer anyway and plenty of suitors around, Snodgrass knows this is as crucial as it will now get in his career and the perfect time to ensure your stock is at its highest, while you’re fit and firing in the top flight.
I like Snoddy a lot as a player – but if I was filing him away, he’d be close to the same pile as Ross McCormack. The one marked ‘players who score a lot, create a lot, a lot – yet don’t seem to translate that into a successful team’. It’s as if they make things about themselves – not necessarily deliberately – in a way that adversely affects the team’s progress or results.
Fresh from scoring Southampton’s EFL Cup semi-final first leg winner over Liverpool, Nathan Redmond continues to pick up good reviews since leaving City. Not all manage it and fingers get pointed back at Carrow Road if a player’s post-Canary life is brighter than their time here. One for another column.
And Snodgrass? While West Ham, Middlesbrough and others may fancy a cut-price January deal for an ex-City player that really has started to deliver since leaving Norwich, the only possible survival hope for Hull to cling to, is keeping hold of the Snod they’ve got.
• Just Saying…
Last week I flagged up in this very box the prospect of being grilled to within an inch of my life. Well, I survived. Just.
It was all in aid of Pundits Night laid on by Norwich City Fans Social Club with BBC Radio Norfolk’s Rob Butler and City legend Iwan Roberts also being quizzed by top man Darren Eadie – and it was such an enjoyable night, with all the money raised being sent on to City’s Community Sports Foundation.
I’d been to a few of these nights before and Diane plus her team of volunteers do a fantastic job of putting them on – and they make for an excellent outing for any City fan.
Obviously I hope those who went along on Tuesday felt our own stab at entertainment and informative debate lived up to that previous standard.
• Just Saying…
One more point on the Canaries.
No doubt Alex Neil will be looking forward to a trip to Rotherham that won’t be blighted by Lewis Grabban this time – although I guess you never know.