Iwan Roberts: I don’t buy Daniel Farke’s excuse that pressure was a factor on Norwich City defeat
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Two games played over the busy Christmas and New Year period and two to go, starting tomorrow with Burton at The Pirelli Stadium and then Millwall at home on New Year’s Day.
After the disappointment of losing at home to Brentford on Friday night, Daniel Farke blamed the defeat on himself, saying he put too much pressure on his players in the build-up to the game – an excuse I wasn’t having at all, if I’m honest.
The reason Norwich lost against Brentford was due to poor defending and players switching off at critical times, not to them being too nervous.
Don’t get me wrong, players obviously get nervous before games, especially big games. However – no disrespect – I wouldn’t put Brentford at home in that category. In fact, I don’t think playing any team from the Championship at home should leave you quaking in your football boots. You simply don’t perform because you are too nervous.
I loved the feeling of butterflies in my stomach before a game, but as soon as I’d won my first header or had my first decent touch and laid the ball off to a team-mate those butterflies soon disappeared. And if I managed to score in the opening minutes of a game then that would be it; I’d be so relaxed for the rest of the game, I’d be so confident I’d try almost anything.
After the defeat to Brentford the lads had a tricky trip to the Midlands to face a club in real turmoil, Birmingham City, and fair play to the lads who gave us all a very happy Boxing Day with a terrific 2-0 win.
Maybe it was a good time to face Steve Cotterill’s men. After all, they had won only one game in their last 12, eight of which they had lost. However, going to St Andrews is never easy, especially with confidence low and with Norwich themselves in a poor run of form with just the one win in 10 games before Boxing Day.
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Angus Gunn kept his first clean sheet in 11 games so let’s hope he and his defenders can put together another run without conceding like the one they enjoyed earlier in the season when they defended for their lives and didn’t let the opposition score in six of the nine games they played during September and October.
As a forward I used to hated early January – I couldn’t fully relax until I’d scored my first goal of the New Year. It didn’t matter if I’d scored a bagful of goals in those opening few months of the season, because to me New Year meant I started from scratch and needed to score ASAP in those opening few games of the month.
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I remember my second season at Huddersfield when I scored 34 goals, my best ever return in a season. Twenty of those had come in the first half of the season, but it mattered very little to me going into our first game in January.
We played Bolton at the old Leeds Road and we battered them 4-0 and I bagged myself a brace – which I think were the only goals I ever scored in the first game of a New Year. For the remainder of that 91-92 season I went out to play every game so relaxed and eventually scored 34 goals, winning the bronze boot (as it was the old Third Division) with my good friend Dean Holdsworth as he’d scored exactly the same number for Brentford, who went on to win the league that season.
Luckily Dean and I didn’t have to share the bronzed Adidas football boot – we were given one each and mine is right up there with the most prized possessions I’ve won in my football career.
Hopefully, Norwich can get the New Year off to a winning start on Monday against Millwall; after all, they owe the Lions one after the mauling they received at the New Den back at the end of August when they lost 4-0.