Iwan Roberts: 'That 45 minutes from Norwich City was plain ridiculous'
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
I was up at Hillsborough on Easter Monday where I witnessed one of the best team performances in the Championship this season.
Sheffield Wednesday hammered Cardiff 5-0, and it should have been more. The way Wednesday counter-attacked with pace was a joy to see and I was delighted for my former Wolves team-mate Jamie 'Jinky' Smith who was in temporary charge due to manager Darren Moore’s absence with Covid.
But it didn’t take me long - just 24 hours in fact - to see the best performance I’ve seen from a Championship side this season. To be honest, that first 45 minutes from Norwich City was plain ridiculous it and as good a half of football that I’ve witnessed for a very, very long time.
It really was the magnificent seven ..., sorry, of course I mean 11 in seventh heaven.
When the lads are in that mood they are simply irresistible to watch and nearly impossible to stop. The game as a contest was done on 20 minutes when Teemu Pukki smashed home his and Norwich’s second and even though it was only 2-0 at the time, you could just tell from the Huddersfield players' body language that they simply had no answer to the Norwich onslaught.
The Terriers were toothless, they never laid a glove on the Norwich players. It was as if they were star-struck and in awe of the Norwich lads. They might as well have rolled over and had their bellies tickled by Pukki, Todd Cantwell, Emi Buendia and Co.
If you give good players time and space on the ball they will hurt you and that's what happened in that first half. The lads ran riot and, fortunately for Carlos Corberan and his players, Norwich didn’t get out of first gear in that second half. They simply didn’t have to, and they still scored another two goals.
Corberan is a big admirer of Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa, who he worked with at Elland Road for three years while looking after the U23s. You can see Corberan’s picked up the Bielsa way of crouching down to watch the game off to a tee. However, if I was a Huddersfield Town supporter I’d be concerned by the way he disappeared into his dug-out after Buendia smashed in Norwich’s third on 24 minutes. Had he sank any further in his seat he’d have been sat in the directors box!
I’ve been in the position those Huddersfield players were in, and it's not easy. You want the ground to open up and swallow you, you can’t wait for that final whistle to put you out of your misery and get yourself back on the team bus and get home.
On September 14, 1991 I was in fact a Huddersfield Town player and we’d made the shortish journey down the M62 to Gigg Lane to play Bury. After 29 minutes we found ourselves 4-0 down and looking at a rugby score. We had some strong characters in that Huddersfield team, the likes of Peter Jackson, our captain, two solid midfielders in Kieron O’Regan and Chris Marsden. Former Norwich defender Simon Charlton was our left back and Phil Starbuck partnered myself up front.
It’s fair to say we were awful for the opening half-hour - I can’t say anything else seeing as we were 4-0 down - but our heads didn’t drop and we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves. There was no falling out and finger pointing, no passing the blame to someone else - we’d all let ourselves and the club down and it was down to us to dig ourselves out of the big hole that we were in. And that’s exactly what we did.
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I got a goal back just before the break and the whole mood on and off the pitch changed. We’d given ourselves a chance. We scored a second halfway through the second half and we could see the blood draining from the Bury players' faces!
We went on to score two more goals in the final six or seven minutes of the game, with myself getting the equaliser deep into injury time to make it 4-4. We’d produced a minor miracle. How we clawed our way back i cant tell you, but what I can tell you is we had good strong-minded group of players. We believed in ourselves individually and as a team.
I’ve never been one to wave the white flag or throw the towel in when the going gets tough as I believe Huddersfield did Tuesday night. It might be a bit old fashioned, but I believe you have to roll up your sleeves and meet your challenges head on. That's the only way you will overcome them.