Cold comfort in choosing Norwich City’s player of the season
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
And spring is supposed to be coming!
As March reaches its half way point and the football season heads towards the business end, you would expect the weather to be improving, wouldn’t you? So who was cold on Saturday then? I’m quite a hardy Norfolk boy, but I certainly shivered pretty well and of course the unfortunate end to the game didn’t help warm us up too much.
The heavy rain which then turned to snow was miserable and was perhaps a reminder that there are still some uncomfortable times ahead before we can relax and enjoy summer and another year in the top flight.
I still believe we will do that and none of us should forget what an achievement that will be.
Apart from the weather and of course Holty’s penalty being saved at the end, talking points from the game were at a premium.
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So I know lots of people started looking towards who would be player of the season.
What seems almost certain is that Grant Holt won’t make it four years on the trot.
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Don’t get me wrong, Holty is a City legend and his contribution at Carrow Road will have a proud place in the club’s history.
He has been at Norwich for less than four years but was a crucial part in securing back to back promotions and then achieving the very solid return to the Premier League last season.
Holt’s total of 75 goals makes him one of the most prolific City strikers of all time and it is impossible to speak too highly about his influence in the team.
But for one reason or another, he hasn’t been the same this campaign.
It could be the system, it could be other teams taking him more seriously, it could be time catching up with him. It could be a combination of the three.
So assuming Captain Fantastic’s winning streak is coming to an end, who will lift the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy?
There are still several games for players to make a late run to get in contention, but here are my suggestions at the moment.
Sebastien Bassong – Seems to be the fans’ favourite to be the first defender to win the player of the season since Gary Doherty in 2006 (assuming you count Dion Dublin as a striker). Supporters tend to chose midfielders and frontmen rather than the boys at the back – and in 11 of the last 16 seasons that has been the case. But the summer arrival from Spurs has been colossal this term. Generally when he has played City have looked so much more solid.
Robert Snodgrass – What an amazing workrate the Scottish international has. He is joint second top scorer and has given the team a new dimension at free-kicks and I still think he will improve even more. Fans love a player who gives his all – and Snodgrass certainly does that.
Bradley Johnson – Before the season started, he probably didn’t think he would be part of Hughton’s plans – and certainly wouldn’t have expected to have played 30 games by this stage of the campaign. Johnson has been tenacious in the holding midfielder role which is so important in the system the manager prefers.
Alex Tettey – Injury has probably wrecked his chances but his contribution in the engine room musn’t be forgotten.
Michael Turner – Had a really tough start to his career at Norwich but has formed the first choice pairing with Bassong. He is getting better as the season goes on.
Mark Bunn – A long shot outsider, of course he is. But the way Bunn has developed since coming in to the side has been hugely commendable. He has proved a lot of people wrong.
Russell Martin – Another solid season for Mr Dependable. How often do you talk about him letting the team down? And he chips in with the odd goal or two.
It’s over to you!
• HOW A PINE MARTEN INSPIRED ME TO GET BACK TO NATURE
Football is a pretty bizarre game, as we all know, and we could all list countless weird moments during our years of watching and (in some cases) playing.
But the sight of players and officials trying to catch a pine marten during a match between FC Thun and Zurich in Switzerland took things to a new level.
If you haven’t watched the footage, I would highly recommend it.
I didn’t even know what a pine marten was before the video was drawn to my attention. Basically it is like a weasel and even quicker than Hucks at his peak.
The game had to be halted as the mammal tore around the pitch, evading tackle after tackle.
I won’t give any more away so as not to spoil the treat when you see it.
After seeing it, it got me thinking about links between football and nature and the idea of a Norwich City Wildlife team – natural, of course being the Canaries.
So after a quick tweet asking for suggestions, they flooded in!
Thanks to all those who took part and I could tell you they enjoyed having a bit of fun. (Special mentions to Tim Johnson, Jason Ellis, Ali Gibson, Jon Gibson, Bob Calver, Nathan Dack, Martin Mayer, Ross Mastin and Owen Watkinson).
So here goes (or should I say hare goes).
Yes it is an attacking formation and the team will play like a bull in a china shop.
My wild Canaries XI
Manager: Glenn Roe-deer
Keeper: Mark Bunn-y
Defenders: Aage Hare-ide, Ian Culver-mouse, Malky Mc-Cow
Midfielders: Youssef Safari, Mark Baa-rham, Robert Eagle
Strikers (four from these): Adrian Coote, Ewe-an Roberts, Grant Holt Country Park, Justin Fasha-gnu, Chris (House) Martin, Ruel Fox
• Hero of the week: I’ll admit I was one of the doubters about Mark Bunn when John Ruddy got injured. He didn’t look confident when he started. Bunn isn’t the biggest of keepers (especially when you compare him with JR) and his lack of a real dominating physical presence perhaps put him on the back foot.
But he has now kept five clean sheets and was many people’s man of the match on Saturday, mine included.
• Villain of the week: Thanks Artur Boruc for ruining our Saturday afternoon and meaning we may have to sweat a little more than we would have done than if you had let Holty’s last gasp kick in. Of course he had to be wearing blue didn’t he? These opposition keepers, you just can’t rely on them. Boo.
• Highlight of the week: Saturday’s draw against the Saints wasn’t the first home game this season when we left Carrow Road pretty disappointed and flat after a performance lacking real excitement.
Highlights were few and far between.
But it was another point on the board – and with the way the results went, a point further away from the drop zone.
• Funniest moment of the week: I enjoy a sing song and I like Michael Turner and I love a laugh. So the video posted on Youtube of a special musical tribute to the increasingly popular City centre-half really tickled me. If you haven’t seen it, you must. It is the tune of Barry Manilow’s Mandy and is hilarious (as well as being really rather clever).
• Prediction of the week: I’m getting used to being laughed at by the lads around me in the top of the River End as I make predictions. Most weeks I’m wrong with the score or other guesses I have about other aspects of the game. So when I declared at half time on Saturday that it was the day for City to get a penalty in front us, I got the usual ridicule. So I’m smug at being right for once – but of course gutted that the kick was saved.