Iwan Roberts: Norwich City must lose soft touch tag... and quickly
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I mentioned in my very first column of the season that one key word for the season ahead would be patience.
However, I have to be honest – these last two away performances, at Villa Park and the New Den, would have tested the patience of a saint and I can fully understand fans’ frustrations.
It’s still very early days, but the new players really need to understand what a tough, competitive physical league the Championship is and if you’re not up to the challenge or the fight teams will steamroll right over you as Millwall did last weekend.
If I had been playing last Saturday the biggest thing that would have struck a chord with me and touched a nerve would have been former Norwich striker Steve Morison’s comments after the game when he said that Daniel Farke’s team were a “nice team to play against”.
I don’t think Steve was being malicious or vindictive in his interview, he simply said what he thought and made it quite clear that Neil Harris had got his tactics spot on by instructing his players to go out and try and bully and out-fight the Norwich lads as they seem to be a bit of a soft touch.
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Whatever happens from now until the end of the season I hope that this is never said again about the club’s players as it’s one of, if not the, biggest insults you could label a team.
Word will soon get around the league that the way you beat Norwich City these days is by simply turning up, out-fighting them and making it a bit of a physical game as they really don’t like it when you get amongst them and in their faces.
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Everyone – from Farke and his players, to the fans – has to sit and stew for two weeks for the opportunity to put things right as it is international weekend.
I guess it does give the head coach time to work on the lack of defensive leadership qualities that’s been once again exposed so horribly and maybe bring in a defender who knows exactly what the Championship is all about. Hopefully the signing of Grant Hanley on Wednesday will be just what the doctor ordered.
I’m off to Moldova on Sunday as Wales have two World Cup qualifying games against Austria and Moldova, two countries that I received caps for after playing against both in the early 90s.
As you can imagine Vienna was a pleasure to visit; sadly the same couldn’t be said about Chisinau, the Moldovan capital.
When we went in 1994 Moldova had only been an independent country for two years having split up from the old USSR along with many other small countries. The poverty there was shocking and so sad and it made you realise how lucky and privileged you were.
When you go away to play another country you always stay in one of the best hotels in the city, but you never stay in the same hotel as the home nation. I think it’s a rule that Uefa came up with many years ago.
So when the Moldovan national team chose to pick the only five star hotel in the city we had to find another hotel to stay in. The problem was Chisinau only had the one five star hotel... all the others were two stars at best.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the hotel we stayed in was a shocker, probably the worst I’ve ever stayed in and we were there for three nights. Dirty tap water and bed linen, towels the size of handkerchiefs and to top it all Mark Pembridge wasn’t the only one I was sharing a room with!
Our room, well nearly every room, was infested with cockroaches and flies and it didn’t matter how many we killed, more and more appeared.
We played over there at the beginning of October and it was still boiling hot and the lack of air conditioning in the rooms made it unbelievably uncomfortable.
Most of the lads slept in their Welsh tracksuits because of the filthy conditions and the cockroach situation.
We ended up losing our European qualifier 3-2 on an embarrassing night for Welsh football and to this day I still get reminded of it by Welsh fans.