Iwan Roberts: Fantastic City – but is it time to ask Neil Adams for penalty help?
Two long away trips to the north-west which produced three points and put the Canaries back on top of the Championship, two points in front of Leeds... all in all not a bad four days’ work away from Norfolk for the lads.
They were below par at Preston, but it’s fair to say they were back to their very best on Saturday as they demolished lowly Bolton 4-0 with some sensational football.
All four goals were absolutely top class, with some of the best one- and two-touch football along with some great movement that’s not been seen in the Championship for a very long time.
Had those goals been scored by the likes of Manchester City or Barcelona then they would be shown over and over again, that’s how good they were.
The goals against Bolton were as good an example of counter-attacking football as you will see and it’s something that just doesn’t happen overnight – you have to work at it.
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I said a couple of weeks ago I was invited up to Colney to interview Jordan Rhodes and as I was early I thought I would go out and watch a bit of training. The lads were in the middle of a keep-ball session and after seeing the quality and quickness of passing and the way players kept their composure and passed their way out of trouble, I’m not surprised by the quality of the goals we’ve seen this season from Daniel Farke’s men.
Teemu Pukki’s two goals against Bolton meant he went straight to the top of the scoring charts, overtaking Billy Sharp – he’s now bagged 23 goals in 30 Championship games. That is simply a magnificent return from a player who has settled quicker than snow at Norwich City.
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Pukki is now having his best season, overtaking the 20 goals he scored for Brondby in 2016-17. His record before that wasn’t great – he’d reached double figures just the once, but in his last three seasons he’s now scored 60 league goals in 100 appearances for Brondby and Norwich.
It’s not as if Teemu gets loads of chances; he’s just clinical and ever so cool in front of goal. He doesn’t seem to panic when chances fall to him and that’s a great trait to have as a forward. Mind you, can you imagine how many goals he’d have scored if he had been on penalties all season?
I’ve never known a team miss so many penalties in one season. Luckily they haven’t been too costly as the team has scored plenty of goals, but maybe Neil Adams should be giving a few tips up at Colney on how to keep your cool when taking spot-kick.
‘Shoes’, as we used to call him, was exceptional from 12 yards. It’s fair to say he was lethal from the spot and he used to joke that when we were awarded a penalty the rest of us might as well go and get ready for the opposition to take kick-off – there was no point us lining up with him as he got himself ready to take the spot-kick as he never misses. However, I do remember him missing one in our time together at Norwich.
It was a League Cup tie at The Vetch against Swansea and we were awarded a penalty, which obviously Shoes (no idea why we called him that by the way) was going to take. He coolly placed the ball on the spot, took a few steps away and then, as he always did, quickly turned and ran those few yards to the ball and took the kick. But to his horror, the Swansea keeper, Roger Freestone, guessed the right way and kept the ball out... and just like that, Neil’s 100pc record from the spot had gone.
To make matters worse, later in the game Neil took a clattering and broke his collarbone and if missing his first penalty wasn’t hurting him enough, believe you me he was in agony on that bus journey home ... and it took nearly six hours.