Iwan Roberts: Norwich City’s strikers could do with lessons from Robert Fleck and Chris Sutton
After that win at Portman Road on October 22, Norwich City were sitting in sixth position in the Championship, confidence was sky high within the squad, supporters were starting to think of the play-offs and all was rosy in the Canaries garden.
However, just over a month down the line, with the club having won just one point from the 15 that’s been available since the Ipswich game, they have plummeted to 15th in the league!
The only positive I can take from this shocking run of form is that they are still only six points behind Derby, who occupy the last play-off position – whereas they are nine in front of Burton Albion, who are third from bottom right now.
There’s been a lot of changes at the club, but apart from Jacob Murphy leaving for Newcastle in the summer there’s not too many attacking changes at Norwich, so it leaves me scratching my head a bit – how can a squad which scored 85 goals last season score just 16 goals in their opening 18 games?
Maybe Daniel Farke could do with some help in this department; maybe bring in someone to help the strikers – and, no, I’m not touting myself for a job, I thoroughly enjoy my work for the BBC.
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But what about this: the likes of Grant Holt who, up until recently of course, lived in Norwich, Chris Sutton, after retiring from playing and managing, lives in north Norfolk and the one and only Robert Fleck will never move away from Norfolk.
All three have been great goal scorers for Norwich, and not just that, they all have great experience and have played at the highest level, I’m sure if asked, any of the three would jump at the opportunity to work with the club’s forwards, maybe on a part-time basis to try and improve the club’s very poor form in front of goal.
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When I joined Huddersfield, my coach was Peter Withe, the man who won the European Cup for Aston Villa, and he was a great help to me ,especially at the beginning of my Town career where I didn’t get off to the best of starts.
Withy (as we called him) was an old-fashioned type of forward, very similar to myself, and he took me under his wing as he could see I was suffering in front of goal.
Nearly every day after training he would keep me behind for 45 minutes or so and just get me in the habit of hitting the back of the net.
Of course, it’s not just about repetition – you have to put yourself in what you think is the right place to be at the right time, it’s about taking gambles in the box and always thinking that the ball somehow will come to you. Nine times out of 10 it probably won’t, but you have to keep making those runs. You can’t think, ‘oh it’s not coming to me again’. On that 10th time you have to make sure that you’re ready to take that chance.
I find it strange that every club has a goalkeeping coach as it’s seen as a specialised position, but not many outside the Premier League will have a forwards coach and in my opinion it’s a position that’s just as specialised as a goalkeeper.
Food for thought, I guess, but with only three of the bottom four having scored fewer goals than Norwich this season – even Sunderland, who are rock bottom have scored more – so I don’t think it would do any harm in getting in some outside help from people who care about Norwich City.
Alex Neil returns to Carrow Road tomorrow for the first time with his Preston team since he lost his job last season and I’m sure he’ll get a magnificent reception from everyone at Carrow Road. If you’re in any doubt about Alex’s return just take a second and think about that unforgettable day out he gave you all at Wembley on May 2, 2015.