Jonny Howson on keeping it professional when a full-back goes in goal, why Wes Hoolahan had to go down and catching up with his old gaffer Paul Lambert, as Norwich City put Wolves to bed
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There is something so inherently modest about Jonny Howson that it almost lulls you into underestimating what he can bring to a football pitch.
It certainly couldn’t hide how the Norwich City midfielder influenced Saturday’s Championship clash with Wolves – against the manager, in Paul Lambert, who signed him from Leeds in the first place.
At the weekend Howson looked the Premier League operator he is. City should perhaps be thankful his grounded nature seems enough to prevent any potential suitors stealing him away in the current window.
“I just spoke to him at the end, just wished him all the best like you would with anyone, so nothing out of the ordinary,” said Howson of his former boss.
Amidst the tracking back, breaking up play and driving City forward, Howson’s influence peaked with a rasping left-footed shot that cannoned off the underside of the bar, before Steven Naismith opened the scoring with a smart finish from the rebound.
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And it climaxed with a neat volley from the edge of the box – again with that left foot – which picked up a deflection or two before beating stand-in keeper Matt Doherty in injury time. At least Howson got a shot on target – it seemed a bit beyond some of his team-mates, despite the inviting nature of being faced with a full-back between the sticks.
“I remember the shouts going out to try to get shots on target, there’s no hiding away from that,” admitted Howson. “But I think you’ve still got to be professional. If it’s on to shoot, then obviously you do. If not, you look for whatever option is on.
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“For a midfielder or being on the edge of a box from a corner, you always want it to come to you for a volley or a nice strike, and it just sat up nicely. When you’ve got a split second to think about it, you just do it.
“I thought it (first-half shot) had a good chance. I was right behind it and it would have been nice if it had gone in, but it was obviously pleasing Naisy could then put in the rebound. I’ll take it as an assist if I can!”
With one red card, two penalties and four goals, there was more than enough to digest after the game – especially surrounding the dismissal of Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme’s dismissal for his shove on Wes Hoolahan – moments after conceding a penalty to the hosts.
“I’ve not seen it but there’s a bit of a size difference there, so I don’t think it would take much of a push to knock Wes over,” smiled Howson.
“You get games of football where it can be like that. I suppose that’s why as neutrals, fans and players, we enjoy this game – because the emotions can change within a matter of seconds.
“Obviously whenever you concede a penalty and lose a man, it’s a big part of the game – especially with the scores being level.
“So it possibly swung things in our favour but looking at the game in the whole, I think we’ve got to be pleased with our performance.
“I think we had played ever so well, we had got the lead and it was fairly comfortable. So to give away a penalty and to be back on level terms, sometimes it can take the stuffing out of you. That’s a situation where I think sometimes teams may be effected by that.
“But we responded well, managed to push them back and were fortunate enough to get a penalty, go on and see the game out from there.”