Iwan Roberts: Norwich City deserve more credit after morale-boosting win against Arsenal
I bet spirits were much higher around Carrow Road come half past seven last Saturday night.
What a fantastic result the 1-0 victory over Arsenal was, and even more importantly it gave the club their first taste of victory in the Premier League this season. I listened to the game on the radio on my long journey back from Swansea and it sounded as if the lads performed brilliantly, fully deserving the three points.
Big Holty grabbed the headlines once again with his third goal in as many games; he’s certainly found his goalscoring boots after a slow start to the season. The lads also recorded their second clean sheet of the season which I’m sure will have delighted Chris Hughton, because as we all know too many goals have been conceded over the opening few weeks of the season.
It was the first time Michael Turner and S�bastien Bassong had been partnered together at the centre of the defence, both performing admirably over the 90 minutes.
It’s frustrating when, after a really good result and performance like that the journalists and footballing pundits don’t give Hughton and the players the credit they deserve. It never seems to be how well Norwich City have played but how poor the opposition were.
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It can be infuriating when people can’t focus on how well the lads played, not noting that Arsenal were disappointing because they weren’t allowed to settle and get into their normal passing rhythm by a very determined and energetic Norwich side.
Tomorrow’s game against Aston Villa was probably the first fixture that the majority of Norwich fans would have looked for when they were announced in the middle of June.
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For the first time since he left under a cloud in the summer, Paul Lambert will face his former club. Whatever your opinion of Lambert, don’t forget the unbelievable work he did here in his time at the helm. He turned the club around and in my honest opinion, if it wasn’t for him the club may still be in League One or worse.
I’m sure he’ll get a mixed reception from Norwich fans at Villa Park tomorrow afternoon as some supporters will never forgive him for leaving the club in the circumstances he did. All I will say is just remember where the club was when he took over, and look where the club was when he left.
He hasn’t had the best of starts as Villa manager. I said when he left Norwich that he was taking on a massive challenge and it’s proving just that. They are fourth from bottom having won only once this season, in a game that I worked at when they were very impressive against Swansea.
One thing for sure is he will have his players wound up and ready for this game, but equally so will Hughton, being a former Birmingham manager.
After Saturday’s result the players will be full of confidence that they can gain another three points.
• WE MUST BE UNITED TO STAMP OUT DISGRACEFUL ACTS OF RACISM
It’s been a bad couple of weeks for the game in general after last week’s events at England Under-21s’ game in Serbia, which were soon followed by the incident that occurred in the Yorkshire derby between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds last Friday night.
I thought the scenes from Serbia were disgraceful, and it’s not the first time that their supporters have been the culprits. The treatment that Danny Rose and other black English players received from the Serbs has no place in society, let alone in a football stadium. I was in Serbia last month when Wales played there and it proved to be a very hostile, intimidating place to visit.
I had never seen such a police presence at a game, and considering we had only 400 Welsh fans over I was very surprised so many were required around the streets of Novi Sad and inside the stadium. I asked a Serbian journalist why there were so many, his answer in broken English being: “We can’t afford to have any other incidents involving our fans as we are on a last warning with FIFA”.
The Serbian FA have had a few meagre fines over the past three or four years after similar incidents, but the racist abuse and taunts continue, so surely now they have to be banned from international football until their Football Association successfully clamps down on those involved and rids themselves of the obvious problems they have in that part of Europe.
I was disappointed that a handful of players refused to wear the Kick Racism Out Of Football T-shirts over the weekend. Personally I’ve always worn it whenever I’ve been asked, as I, like 99 per cent of people, think there is no place in football or any other sport for someone to be abused for the colour of their skin.
I’ve been slaughtered in the past about my nationality and the colour of my hair by players and supporters and it’s not nice, so I can’t begin to imagine what those who are victims of racial abuse have to go through.
I think that if players and fans stick together with this campaign we will be in a much better position to rid this poison from our game, with everyone pulling together in the same direction.
I can understand why some chose to protest at the weekend, but I do believe we will be stronger if united by such a campaign.