B+ for us, but only C+ for them
The league table only really starts to take shape after ten games according to the experts. I don’t count myself as one so I’ll just go along with them for the ride.
As the Capital Canaries and the rest of the Yellow Army are off to Bristol City for league game No.10 of the season, it seems an appropriate time to take stock and judge how City have fared back in the Championship.
Of the first ten league games of the season I will have seen seven and my overriding feeling about these games is one of disappointment. Not disappointment in Paul Lambert’s charges and how they have played but in City’s opposition. I expected more of teams such as Leicester, Hull and Swansea. Decent solid championship sides who with a bit of luck and an injury free run might have pushed for the top two. Instead we’ve seen Milan Mandaric pull the trigger on Paulo Sousa, Hull mug us for a victory and Swansea have most of the game and fail to trouble the scorers.
After the international break when we have a tough run of fixtures my opinion of the competition might change, but for now they’re getting no more than a C+ from me and a “Must do better” on their report cards.
And of City and how have we adapted in the Championship? Like many of the wannabe experts I expected that we might struggle defensively but Adam Drury has returned to his form of old, Russell Martin is proving to be Mr Consistent and our two new centre backs both look very solid.
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An old pal who supports the Baggies warned me about Leon Barnett and advised that “He’s dodgy and not really a West Brom player”. After a month or so Leon Barnett may not be a West Brom type of player, but he’s certainly a Norwich one, and a good one at that. Pace and power and he does what it says on the tin and defends. And he does it very well. West Brom’s loss is our gain.
Andrew Crofts has been the revelation of the season so far. Tackling, heading and goals - he is the heartbeat of the side and is looking like the signing that every other Championship club wished they had made. This expert went to a couple of the pre-season friendlies and was impressed with David Fox and his neat play, but less so with Andrew Crofts. Come the opening game against Watford, Crofts was the one who caught the eye and it was no surprise that he has made the spot at the base of the diamond his own. Fox will have to be patient.
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As I expected he would, Korey has moved his game up a notch and has not looked out of place in the Championship. Ditto Wes Hoolahan who has added a new dimension to his play and has provided more defensive cover for the team. What I like about Wes is that he never hides from the ball and even if he is not at his best he always wants possession and is not afraid to try and make that killer pass. How many other footballers could say that of themselves?
Simon Lappin is enjoying yet a new lease of life at City. The writing has been on the wall many times for Lappin but each time he comes back stronger. Roeder and Gunny both mistakenly thought they could do without him and when Paul Lambert splashed the thick end of a million pounds on a player that played in the King of Spain’s position he must have through “Oh no, here we go again.” A Surman knee injury later and Lappin is back and it’s looking unlikely he’ll be shifted from the team for a while. All that’s missing is a goal; if Adam Drury can manage to find the back of the net so can Simon Lappin.
I thought City would score plenty enough goals to be safe in the Championship and expected a few more 4-3 and 3-2 results than the 1-0 at Preston and Scunthorpe and it is up front where I have a few concerns. Maybe Grant Holt needs an international break to top up on that pre-season he missed or it could be that both Chris Martin and Simeon Jackson might require a little longer to adjust to the Championship. I’m sure they’ll come good in the near future and that there are goals to come from these three.
And that leaves just one position to discuss, the goalkeeper. John Ruddy has had a difficult start to the campaign and his form has varied between the very good and the not so very good. Some major mistakes and a match winning penalty save combined with a couple of clean sheets means that he’s still in credit with me. And that’s how I hope it will stay with all City supporters.
So I’ll mark City’s report card as B+. A very decent start, room for improvement but doing the right things well.