Chris Goreham: Let’s hope fans can give Buendia the standing ovation he deserves
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The lack of a standing ovation for Emi Buendia after his latest Championship masterclass was another brutal reminder that football is nowhere near as good without fans.
Daniel Farke substituted his match-winner against Barnsley with three minutes to go. Under normal circumstances it’s a sweet moment when a manager uses one of his changes to add a sense of theatre to an occasion.
People like to pretend that football isn’t a sentimental business but if Carrow Road had been packed on Saturday every home supporter would have clapped until their hands warmed up again. Buendia would have been allowed to perform the special jog that players do when they have an ovation to milk. It’s one that looks like a run but actually sees them move slower than a walk.
In this ‘Behind Closed Doors’ world he just stepped off the field at the nearest point and the game continued. There is definitely something wrong when Buendia can score a wonderful goal, play like that and then leave with no more of a fanfare than a Sunday League slogger at Sloughbottom Park.
The big worry for many Norwich City fans now must be whether they will ever get to see Buendia play for the Canaries again. This isn’t an attempt to put on a red nose, join the January circus and predict his impending departure. There is every chance that he will see out the month and indeed the season in yellow and green. It’s difficult to be as optimistic when it comes to forecasting the return of swathes of supporters to the ground in that time.
We have to face facts here and accept that Buendia will, in all likelihood, be sold by Norwich City for big money at some point.
Those of us who have been going to Carrow Road since before Buendia was born have seen it so many times. You will have your own favourite who broke your heart when they left for a ‘bigger’ club.
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It’s always disappointing but the struggle to keep hold of top players is a battle that isn’t unique to Norwich City. Even if a generous billionaire decided that Norfolk was the perfect place to live out their Premier League dreams players like Max Aarons and Emi Buendia would still be linked with Arsenal and Manchester United.
Look at Leicester City. They actually won the Premier League in 2016 and remain regular contenders for the top four. However, since that incredible triumph they have sold Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Riyad Mahrez and Harry Maguire for a combined total of more than £250 million. The trick isn’t simply to hold out for as much money as possible. It’s all about coming to terms with the facts that departures are going to happen and having a plan for replacing those players when they go.
Not many of us expected Norwich City to improve after James Maddison left for Leicester in 2018. That’s when Buendia came in.
Since the start of this season, I haven’t heard a single Canaries fan lamenting the loss of either Ben Godfrey or Jamal Lewis. That’s not to talk down the quality of two players who were good enough to remain in the Premier League when City fell through the trapdoor. It’s more of a tribute to the way in which Ben Gibson, Grant Hanley and the rest of the defence have gone about their business.
It’s not easy to replace remarkable quality like Buendia. But then neither is it easy to latch on to a high 35-yard pass from Kenny McLean and sweep it effortlessly past the goalkeeper with one touch.
I am privileged to be able to say I have seen the latter done. I’d have applauded it myself if it wasn’t for the microphone in one hand the pen in the other. It is tempting to encourage Norwich City supporters to enjoy Emi Buendia while he’s here but cheering a laptop screen or applauding the radio isn’t the same.
Here’s a hopeful note on which to leave it. The last player to score the first goal of a calendar year for the Canaries and then leave before the year was out was Arturo Lupoli in 2009. Perhaps there will be more opportunities for Buendia to get a proper Carrow Road ovation.
There were reasons to be optimistic at both ends of the pitch for Norwich City on Saturday.
Emi Buendia’s brilliance has been well covered but it was great to have ‘Bakers Hands’ back in goal. During my commentary research I took a wrong turn on the internet and ended up on Tim Krul’s Wikipedia page.
It’s a leap of faith to place one’s trust in an online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. Many radio interviews have crumbled over the years with a question based solely on a pearl of Wikipedia wisdom.
Krul is closing in on 100 games for Norwich City and yet I had never noticed the passage at the end of his entry until the other day.
“During his time at ADO Den Haag, Krul adopted the nickname ‘Bakkers Handen’ (Bakers Hands) which was said to be due to his hands being the size of bread loaves”.
Any responsible journalist would, of course, do their due diligence. This is the sort of potential nonsense that needs to be double checked before being quoted as fact. However, it made me laugh so I immediately shared the post on social media. It led to some strong pun work from City supporters to start the new year. ‘We’ll knead him back now that Michael McGovern is injured’ etc. The sort of material that belongs alongside Ian Clarke’s ‘Dad Jokes’ in this newspaper.
Subsequently Tim Krul has been in touch. He’s confirmed that this is indeed the work of a Wikipedia wag. He’s never been called ‘Bakkers Handen’, not by Den Haag fans or anyone else.
It meant that during Saturday’s commentary he just had to be referred to as plain old ‘Tim Krul’ and that new nickname had to be crossed out of my notebook.
It doesn’t make sense anyway. Unless bakers really do tend to have big hands? It’s not something I had considered until now.