Chris Goreham: Why I'm not to blame if Buendia moves in January
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
If Emi Buendia leaves Norwich City in January it will be partly my fault.
At least that’s what one BBC Radio Norfolk listener warned me last week.
They were concerned that our creative Canary might be offended by the commentary of his winning goal against Nottingham Forest. My instinct was that it should probably go down as an own goal. Buendia’s shot from outside the penalty area was bound for the goalkeeper’s bottom left-hand corner. Brice Samba threw himself in that direction only for Forest captain Joe Worrall to divert the ball into the opposite and completely unguarded side of the net.
I was soon shouted down as the Scrooge of The South Stand for trying to take the goal off Buendia. It was an important moment for him. He had been sent off twice at Carrow Road since his previous goal on home soil. The fact his original effort was on target proved enough for the goal to be officially given to the Argentine. I had to concede defeat.
Why am I being so pernickety? It doesn’t matter who scores for City as long as someone does, right? Well, to those of us with commentary notebooks and a set of coloured pens things like this really do make a difference. We need to know whether Buendia has three or four goals this season because having the correct facts and figures at your fingertips will eventually prove important.
Three days later, at Blackburn Rovers, Norwich City were once again drawing 1-1 when Buendia picked the ball up around 25 yards out. Again, he tried his luck, again it was deflected and again it proved to be the winning goal. However, this time it had diverted into the net via his team-mate Teemu Pukki. Suddenly the rules were different and the devious deflector was allowed to take all the credit. I resisted the temptation to re-open the debate about the Forest ‘own goal’ and chose to live in the moment.
This was Pukki’s 50th goal in his 100th game for the club. The striker is a man who lives his life in clinical fashion, he likes his numbers to be just as neat as his finishes.
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I’m not sure how much football supporters really care about milestones but reporters definitely do. On Saturday we also had Alex Tettey’s 250th game for City. He was no more or less valuable than he had been in any of the other 249 matches. It was just another game for Tettey but these numerical landmarks at least provide an opportunity to reflect on a player’s contribution to the Canary cause.
Pukki’s half century has been on the horizon for a while. He was nine short at the start of the season and previous form in The Championship suggested hitting 50 goals by Christmas would be well within reach. I had been carefully chalking them off just to make sure that I was ready to give it the big ‘un on commentary when the big 5-0 arrived.
With moments like this what you really want from a radio point of view is a penalty or a simple one-on-one with the goalkeeper. When a cricketer is 49 or 99 not out there’s a wonderful anticipation that builds towards the moment their bat can be raised towards the pavilion. Typically, when Pukki’s 50th arrived, it happened in the blink of an eye. We had no access to a TV monitor at Ewood Park and so it was down to my trusty glasses to pick up whether he had actually got the final touch.
It was a special moment that deserved to be greeted with something firm and emphatic like a ring announcer declaring AnthonyJoshua the heavyweight champion of the world. “And there it is! 50 Norwich City goals for the incredible Teemu Pukki.”
What actually happened was more along the lines of “Well, I think that hit Pukki and if it did then he’s scored 50 goals but I’m not really sure.” It was like waiting to deliver my line for the first time in a Christmas Nativity at primary school and then tripping over one of the camels.
Pukki’s got plenty of goals left in him yet. I’ll just have to make sure I’m ready to do justice to the 100th.
Teemu Pukki and Alex Tettey haven’t been the only ones celebrating big Norwich City numbers this week.
Max Aarons also made his 100th appearance for the first team against Nottingham Forest.
I have to be honest and say I didn’t think Aarons would ever play that many games for the Canaries. That sounds like an insult doesn’t it? I have some explaining to do.
There are many Norwich City players over the years who I have quickly written off as not being capable of hitting three figures for the club. We don’t need to name names, it’s Christmas time after all, but you’ll have your own favourite flops from down the years.
The other extreme is also an in issue for clubs of Norwich’s size. You don’t just have players who aren’t good enough to play 100 games. There have been several who have been far too good to be allowed to hang around for that long.
James Maddison only played in yellow and green 53 times before being sold to Leicester City. In fact if you combine that with Dean Ashton’s 46 games that preceded a big money move to West Ham in 2006 you only get 99 appearances between them.
Craig Bellamy (91), Ben Godfrey (78) and Jacob Murphy (42) are other examples of players who have commanded big transfer fees on leaving Carrow Road without clocking up 100 games.
Max Aarons made an assured League debut in the East Anglian derby at Portman Road in September 2018. He was soon established as the first choice right back. As Daniel Farke led the team towards a memorable promotion I can’t have been the only one thinking “This lad will soon be gone.”
It’s pleasing that even interest from Barcelona hasn’t prised him away from Carrow Road. I wonder what the odds are on Aarons making it to 200 games for City?