Iwan Roberts: Why Venus always provided a soft landing!
- Credit: Archant
Sadly, all good things come to an end ... I’m just slightly surprised that Norwich’s nine-game winning streak was ended by 15th-placed Blackburn Rovers, but I guess that's the unpredictability of the Championship.
Mind you, with two former Ipswich Town players in charge up at Ewood Park, maybe I shouldn’t have been so shocked that Blackburn took a point back up to the north west. Tony Mowbray and his assistant Mark Venus would have loved throwing a spanner into the works to slow down Norwich’s promotion push, not that it is going to slow it down that much. The Canaries are still getting promoted - it's just a matter of when.
I played against Tony and Mark when they both at Portman Road and it was always a good battle, well against Tony it was as he would run through a brick wall for his club. Veno, on the other hand, would take the option to climb the wall to get over it - no way was he brave enough to run through it!
I know Mark really well, having played at Wolves with him, and he's someone I really liked and got on well with. In our brief time together I got to know what he was like as a defender, what his strengths and weaknesses were and I knew one day they would come in handy.
He had an unbelievable left foot - just ask Alex Notman. Little Al went to close down a thunderous left-footed free-kick during a game at Portman Road. Al did his job bravely, but he was so unlucky that the ball smashed straight into his ankle and ripped all the ligaments and tendons from the bone. After months of treatment he tried to make a comeback on quite a few occasions, but sadly he was never the same and ended up retiring far too early.
One thing about Veno - for a centre half he was a bit soft and I knew I could intimidate him and bully him on a football pitch. I knew that he knew I was stronger than him and he couldn’t compete in that aspect of the game with me. On many occasions while training at Wolves I’d got the better of him, just like I got the better of both of them back on March 19, 2000 when we won 2-0 at their place... yours truly getting both goals.
Talking of ankle injuries, I was gutted to hear that Ben Gibson may not kick a ball again this season because of that nasty ankle injury he received last Saturday. Ben, alongside Grant Hanley, has been outstanding since his arrival. They've formed a formidable partnership in the heart of the second best defence in the Championship, and he’s going to be sorely missed.
I know first hand how bad that type of injury is and how long it takes to recover. When some people over the weekend were saying he’ll be back in two weeks I thought to myself 'absolutely no chance' - that's at least six to eight weeks and that's without having surgery on the ankle.
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I first went over on my left ankle in the last game of my first season at Watford. I was 17 years old and was due to go home following the last game of our season to spend the summer with my parents in north Wales, and I couldn’t wait.
It was the Herts Senior Cup final and we were playing Boreham Wood at their ground. We had a reserve team out as the first team’s season had just finished and I was delighted to have been given another chance to impress Graham Taylor, who was going to be at the game.
Halfway through the first half I went up for a ball by taking a running jump across the centre half, something I would go one to do a thousand times in my career. Even though I was right-footed I always took off and landed on my left foot. But this time when I landed I found a hole in the Boreham Wood pitch and my ankle went... i swear it was agony.
I was lucky I hadn’t broken it, but it was four times its normal size and it was weeks before I could put any weight on it. To rub salt into the wound, I wasn’t allowed to travel home. I had to stay in Watford and receive treatment to make sure I was fit for pre-season two months later.
My left ankle was never ever the same after that - it was a massive weakness to me, I went over on it many more times, even though I’d have it strapped up before every training session and game. Hopefully, when the swelling goes down on Ben’s ankle, he’ll be given the good news that he doesn’t need surgery on that injury and he’ll be firing on all cylinders come the start of next season.