Grant Holt not to blame for Norwich City’s missed chance of three points
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
What a difference those extra two points would have made to the Canaries’ cause to stay in the Premier League last Saturday.
Had Grant Holt slotted that penalty kick away, everything would have looked much healthier. Norwich would have climbed to 10th on 35 points, only one win from virtually guaranteeing top- flight football for another season. But it wasn’t to be, and in all fairness it would have been very harsh on Southampton had they left Norwich last Saturday empty- handed, as from what I’ve heard and seen the Saints were the better side.
Once again chances were few and far between for City, but they did have the best chance of the game.
When young Luke Shaw was adjudged to have shoved Holty to the floor in the last minute of the game I bet the majority of Norwich supporters would have thought that this was the perfect opportunity to bag three precious points.
In all honesty I don’t think there was much contact and I think Grant did go down rather easily. However, he should have been awarded a penalty in the first half when he was dragged back in the visitors’ six-yard box just as he was about to prod home a peach of a cross from the left-hand side.
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Mark Clattenberg decided not to give it, but more than made up for it in the final minute.
You would have put your mortgage on Holty scoring. It wasn’t a bad penalty; he struck the ball well enough and sent it in a decent direction.
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However, it was a good height for Artur Boruc and the Saints goalkeeping coach Toni Jiminez had done his homework and advised Boruc which way Grant normally puts his spot-kicks.
Holty would have been so disappointed to have missed as there is nobody who wants the club to be successful more than him.
It was a pressure moment in a massive game and he was brave enough to pick himself up and take the responsibility on his shoulders to win the game for Norwich City, as he has done many times for the football club over his superb three-and-a-half years.
I’ve seen and heard some of the criticism that’s been aimed at Grant this week, and it’s totally out of order and unjust. Some fans have very small memories. Cast your minds back less than three weeks ago when the big man scored one of the most important goals in his Norwich career in the final minute against Everton.
I’m convinced that if Norwich are awarded a penalty on Sunday at the Stadium of Light he’ll put himself forward to take it and smash it past Simon Mignolet in the Black Cats’ goal.
• IT’S HIGH TIME THE CANARIES EXPERIENCED STADIUM OF DE-LIGHT
It’s up to the north east on Sunday for the lads to face a side who are in a shocking run of form.
Martin O’Neill’s men have lost four of their last five games and have only taken two points from a possible 18 in the league.
One of those came in a home draw against Fulham two weeks ago, when they were a bit fortunate to get a point as they were two goals down after 34 minutes to Martin Jol’s men, who are far from the best travellers in the division.
Last season’s performance up at the Stadium of Light was probably one of the worst the Canaries had on their travels.
It was a cold midweek game at the beginning of February when Sunderland comfortably beat Paul Lambert’s Norwich City 3-0. The lads just didn’t turn up, and let’s all hope that isn’t the case this Sunday as once again there’s so much at stake.
Sunderland are just three points behind Norwich and O’Neill will definitely be looking over his shoulder at the chasing pack, sitting precariously just six points above the relegation zone.
The last time the Canaries tasted victory against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light was right back at the beginning of the 1997-98 season in a game that I played in.
Isn’t it about time, then, that City went up there and returned to Norfolk with all three points?
• MCDERMOTT DID NOT DESERVE POOR TREATMENT FROM ROYALS
I thought the sacking of Brian McDermott from Reading on Monday was very harsh. He’s done a terrific job there, to be honest.
When he took over they were in the bottom three of the Championship and in a dire state. He turned the club around without spending millions in transfer fees and wages. He won them promotion last season as outright champions, and even though it’s been a struggle this season, they are still only four points from 17th place.
Of course they’ve lost their last five games, two of which were matches their Russian owner thought they should have won against Wigan and Aston Villa. Nonetheless, to sack him now with nine games left is absurd. The new manager has to come in and get his way of thinking and working through to the players, and these processes rarely transfer overnight.
At the very least if Reading had been relegated at the end of the season surely Anton Zingarevich, the club’s owner, should have given McDermott the opportunity to bring the Royals straight back up.
Cast your minds back towards the end of last season when Wolves decided enough was enough and sacked Mick McCarthy. Once again it was a poor knee-jerk reaction from a wealthy owner of a football club, one I’m sure Steve Morgan regrets as you look at the state his club is now in, fighting for their lives to stay in the Championship.