David Hannant: International break must be spent growing up - by some City fans too

Emi Buendia's early error proved costly in Norwich City's 2-0 Premier League defeat to Watford Pictu

Emi Buendia's early error proved costly in Norwich City's 2-0 Premier League defeat to Watford Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It is not often in this column that one line of analysis can apply to players and fans of Norwich City. However, this is one of those rare occasions.

We head into the international break on the back of another disappointing Premier League defeat and rooted to the very rock bottom of the table.

And over this break there is a piece of advice more than a few players could do worse than to take on board: time to grow up.

If there is one thing we have learned since the beginning of the season it's that the Premier League is a cruel mistress.

It's not forgiving in the same way as the Championship can be - as we saw on Friday, no matter who you are playing, mistakes will go punished.

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Now if football was as simple as being able to say to a crop of talented but young players to stop making mistakes, then you'd expect every game would probably finish 0-0, or 10-10 depending on who the attackers are.

There's no magic wand that can be waved to eradicate the human error from humans.

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However, while mistakes will always happen, this is where the need for growing up comes in.

It's easy to forget that City do have a lot of young players in the set-up and other than a few, even the older players are experiencing the Premier League for the first time - so there was always going to be a bedding in period.

But we are now at the stage where these teething problems need to be put behind us - we've played more than half of the league now so we should now know what to expect.

So, as I've said, now is the time for growing up to be done.

Our squad is young and will always make mistakes - that's natural - but the growing up is in cutting out the situations where mistakes can be the most costly.

Perhaps last season players like Emi Buendia were able to outfox players with a clever trick or turn in his own half. But as we saw on Friday, that just doesn't happen in the Premier League.

And, while I hate to double down on one individual, on Friday I counted dozens of occasions when Buendia - who is still one of City's best creative outlets - was caught miles out of position and leaving acres of space behind him.

I feel this is another area where he has growing up to do. Last season, when everything was going for us, it looked to me that every time he did go walkabout he broke his neck to get back and cover. This term, though, I have seen frustration set in and his shoulders drop,

For want of a kinder phrase, this seems a bit like a lack of discipline; both positionally and in general terms.

The best players are able to bring their A game whether things are going well or not - if he is to prove he's as good as we all believe he is, he needs to sort this.

But he is not alone at all. Not alone in making mistakes and not alone in needing to grow up.

What Daniel Farke needs to spend the break doing is what he does best - man managing.

He needs to take these young players, hammer in some home truths and get them to really look at themselves and be more pragmatic on the pitch, know when to try something that may not come off and where not to.

However, it's definitely not just City's playing staff that need to grow up - it's certain supporters too.

I think in my 20-odd years as a season ticket holder, I have only ever booed a City player once.

I can't tell you the exact date, but it was after Phil Mulryne put in a transfer request. He left the club in 2005, the year I turned 18, so I was definitely a teenager at the time. And I wouldn't do the same nowadays.

And I certainly wouldn't boo a team who in this very calendar year produced the best football I have ever seen from a City side.

I am a supporter, yes I pay to watch, but my job is to support.

Booing helps nobody. It won't motivate any of the players to try harder next time, if that's the argument, as I couldn't fault the effort on Friday.

Yes, it was frustrating, but City had the majority of the play, but lacked killer instinct.

There was no downing tools, no lack of effort and absolutely no reason to boo - not that there ever is valid reason to.

And on social media, I've grown so bored of reading negativity. The sheer amount of hissy fits I've read in the past few weeks is beyond infuriating.

I'm not sure what these people were expecting, but I would suggest if you won't be supportive when times are tough, I suggest you find a different team to follow.

So while this may sound harsh, it's far from just the players who need to grow up.


Last season, Max Aarons was one of City's top performers at full-back.

It is this that makes it strange for me to be even considering the idea of him playing anywhere else on the pitch.

However, as just a thought, I wonder whether it is worth giving him a run further up the field.

We've seen on a number of occasions this season Aarons pushing forward with menace, but leaving gaping holes behind him defensively.

The last thing we want is for his attacking threat to be lost if he starts getting reluctant to go forward for this reason.

So how about drafting in Sam Byram at right-back, who was tremendous against Man City, and pushing Aarons forward into a wing role.

This option could not only provide more natural width, but potentially also make us look far more secure when being hit on the break.

Daniel Farke has had great success with moulding Ben Godfrey into defence from midfield - could the trick work in reverse for Max Aarons? I wouldn't be surprised.


While I'm slightly weary of pinning all hope on Christoph Zimmermann to ride in on a white horse and turn the campaign around, his return can't come soon enough.

Zimbo was my player of the season last year and was a true leader on the field.

When he arrived, he was played down a bit, but he's risen to every challenge that has been put before him.

Last season he looked to me to be a key organiser in City's back line and demonstrated time and time again that he was willing to put his body on the line for the cause.

This type of character is exactly what City need to take the season forward.

However, even if it is too soon for Zimbo, if Grant Hanley is also available that too will prove a boost.

Just like Christoph, the Scot is a leader, but most importantly either of the two being back will mean we will finally see the end of square pegs in round holes at the centre of the defence.

Neither will immediately fix all the problems, but it will certainly make a difference.

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