Crofts’ goals spark echoes of past
Andrew Crofts has already proved that he’s worth his weight in goals – and one former Norwich City promotion winner believes there are plenty more to come.
The Wales international midfielder is averaging a goal every four games for the Canaries, with eight in 32 Championship appearances after his wonderful double gave them a 2-0 win against Barnsley at Oakwell.
And Mark Barham, who scored goals from midfield in two City promotion-winning teams, has been hugely impressed with Crofts’ contribution.
“It’s a long time since we have had a midfield player who knows how to break and score goals in the way he does,” said Barham.
“I think Crofts and David Fox have both shown the ability to get forward and will keep getting opportunities to score.
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“Alongside Wes Hoolahan, who’s a forward but still really part of the midfield and is always scoring, and Henri Lansbury, it’s a great thing to have in a side.”
Barham, who works as a match analyst for Press Association at home games at Carrow Road, even compared Crofts’ instinct for a goal with one of City’s all-time greats.
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“He’s two-footed, decent with his head and gets forward, gets in the right place and knows how to finish,” he said.
“You wouldn’t exactly say Martin Peters but he knows how to finish with every part of his body like Martin did. Martin was an elegant player who drifted into places whereas Crofts is a bit more of a direct runner.
“As people have rightly said, the second goal at Barnsley smacked of Justin Fashanu’s against Liverpool.”
Nearly every City team to win promotion has had the benefit of one or more midfielders scoring on a regular basis, back to Graham Paddon’s eight goals in Division Two in 1971-72.
In City’s Division Two title-winning side of 1985-86, Barham scored nine league goals from midfield with Peter Mendham and David Williams close behind on eight each.
And in Barham’s first promotion campaign with City in 1981-82, he scored four while Martin O’Neill and Mendham bagged six each from midfield.
“We were a footballing side and Paul Lambert’s brought that to Norwich, which is nice to see again. If you’ve got good players and you coach them well, people will get goals,” he said.
“I don’t know whether Paul sets his players targets, but when I played I was tasked with scoring so many a season, maybe eight or 10. Even if you didn’t always hit your target - and I was more of a provider than a goalscorer - it was good to have these goals to go for.”
And the former winger thinks the current Canaries, beaten just twice in the last 20 Championship games, have a real opportunity to follow suit.
“I think they’ve got a great chance,” said Barham. “With the way the away form is going, even if they are in the play-offs, nobody will want to play Norwich home and away.”