Midfield needs addressing first

PUBLISHED: 16:35 04 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:47 14 September 2010

Although, according to reports, Peter Grant did his homework before being interviewed for the manager's job at Carrow Road, I'm sure he now knows more about the squad and the real extent of the problems he has inherited.

Although, according to reports, Peter Grant did his homework before being interviewed for the manager's job at Carrow Road, I'm sure he now knows more about the squad and the real extent of the problems he has inherited.

There are areas of concern all over the pitch, but in particular in midfield. This was again all too evident on Tuesday evening.

With Lee Croft absent for the visit of Colchester, we had the chance to relive the joys of seeing Norwich play without anyone who could remotely be considered a right-sided midfielder. Although Jurgen Colin put in a couple of decent crosses in the first half, in the second it was as if there was an invisible line drawn ten yards in from the side line, the far side of which no Norwich player was allowed to go. I can't help thinking that if we had been attacking the River End in the second half Peter Grant would have been urging one of our right sided players to keep some width to our play.

As with last season, when we had no genuine right-sided midfielder, almost all the attacking play was channelled down the left through Darren Huckerby. The players' first instinct was always to look left, and as with last season all the opposition had to do was nullify the threat of Huckerby, and that was it. The only other option available was to go long.

And what's wrong with Youssef Safri? His first two passes on Tuesday evening failed to get anywhere near their intended target and his laissez faire attitude seemed to continue through the game. Last season, when Safri played well, he made our midfield tick, he demanded the ball, and when he didn't have the ball, he won it back from the opposition. This year he looks like he's waiting for the transfer window to open.

With Safri subbed off midway through the second half, it was very apparent what we missed when he was on the pitch. Although he had a poor game, no-one else in midfield seemed capable of moving the ball on at pace, and I would not like to try and count the number of times Norwich were forced into passing the ball back to Gallagher from a promising attacking position because no-one seemed able to pick a pass out.

The end result of this was a series of long balls up to Dion Dublin, who in the 20 or so minutes he was on the pitch, looked by far and away our best player. He held the ball up well and brought other players, especially Robert Earnshaw back into the game. It was effective, but one could only help but think that we were forced into playing this way because of the personnel on the pitch, and the lack of attacking option they offered.

With the transfer window opening in just under two months, Peter Grant will have had more than enough time to assess the merits or otherwise of his squad, and I am sure he will already know which areas of the pitch he needs to strengthen.

I would suggest that he starts by looking at the midfield five, or four, as a matter of urgency. With Safri looking a shadow of the player he was last year, for whatever reason that may be, McVeigh after his display and sending off against Cardiff, already in the last chance saloon, and Hughes, who despite his 100pc effort, is just not good enough at this level, we need some quality reinforcements in midfield. The issue of cover for the injured Lee Croft on the right hand side of midfield needs to be addressed immediately.

I am not sure how much cash Peter Grant has to spend in the transfer window, but with Robert Green and Leon McKenzie, both having departed for decent fees, and Nigel Worthington either reluctant or unable to attract new players in the summer, there must surely be a decent budget for Grant to re-build the side.

Let's us hope that when Peter Grant finally gets the chance to invest in some new players it is not too late to save our season.

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