Chris Goreham: Plenty of runners and riders for Barry Butler Trophy
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
You can’t win them all. Unless you happen to have been playing for Norwich City over the past few weeks.
Eight victories in a row is a remarkable run in any season at any level. Daniel Farke has inspired his Canaries to be 10 points clear at the top of the Championship with 10 games to go. It hasn’t been enough, however, to convince the judges to award him Manager of the Month.
Farke is getting very good at the sort of expression nominees have to pull off whenever their name isn’t in the golden enveloped at The Oscars.
After five nominations and no trophy this season no-one has a better rueful ‘I’m honestly really pleased for him’ smile than Daniel Farke. He certainly gave an entertaining answer when asked about the lack of personal recognition last week.
I am not sure who picks the winners. Perhaps it is a panel made up of people with an axe to grind against Norwich City. George Burley, Kevin Muscat, Andrew Johnson, Andy D’Urso and Luis Suarez is my guess until anyone tells us any different.
The truth is that the snagging sense of injustice Farke must be experiencing will be a familiar feeling at Carrow Road in a couple of months.
When the voting opens for the Barry Butler Trophy a few players are going to wonder what more they have to do to make the top three. Try picking your shortlist.
- 1 City transfer rumours: West Ham show interest in £30m rated Aarons
- 2 Transfer rumour: Canaries interested in Celtic defender
- 3 No West Ham contact for Aarons; Drmic wage hike unlikely
- 4 Webber will continue to be 'brutally honest' at City
- 5 Former City boss to leave post at the end of the season
- 6 David Freezer: Emotions bubbling for City as Watford tee up a proper title race
- 7 City hot-shot out to prove point in Premier League, claims ex-Canary
- 8 QPR forced to deny manager is leaving ahead of City clash
- 9 'We want to top this season off properly' - Krul's message to fans
- 10 Webber reveals he turned down 'massive job' to stay at City
Emi Buendia’s been superb, Grant Hanley has been inspirational and the clamour for Oliver Skipp to stay beyond his initial loan is the loudest since Darren Huckerby’s temporary spell was coming to an end. Skipp will win by a country mile if Spurs supporters find a way of gate crashing the vote.
One of the great shames of behind-closed-doors football has been the lack of a song for Skipp. A full Carrow Road with The Barclay in mid-season form would probably have come up with some musical magic. With his unerring ability to sense danger, help his team mates to avoid trouble and for making the midfield really click a re-working of ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo’ seems most appropriate.
Tim Krul, Max Aarons and Ben Gibson have played their part in a defence that has been more solid than any other in yellow and green for several seasons. Todd Cantwell has produced some eye-catching displays. That goal against Wednesday on Sunday (if you see what I mean) underlined just how good he is. In many previous seasons those seven names above would have already done enough to have won the Norwich City Player of the Year award.
Then there’s Teemu Pukki. Ten goals in this eight-game winning run, 50 in 75 Championship appearances and 21 in the season before March is out. How can he not be in the top three when the votes are counted at the end of the campaign?
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that our Flying Finn still doesn’t have a Championship hat-trick to his name. His only City treble came in the first home game of last season when he single-handedly dealt with Newcastle United in the Premier League.
Pukki has scored twice in six separate games this season and on 12 occasions in the Championship in total. He has missed a couple of penalties in those matches too but on current form it would be no surprise if he ticked the hat-trick box too before the season is over.
The fact there are so many contenders to be Norwich City’s stand-out performer this season says it all. They wouldn’t be 10 points clear if they only had one or two players on top form. The Canaries’ success this season has been all about the team rather than individual glory. That’s what Farke has been telling us on a monthly basis anyway.
There is no ‘I’ in team. But there is ‘German Man Theft’ in ‘Manager of the Month’. Further evidence, if it were needed, that Farke has been robbed of his due credit this season.
No mean feat
The win over Sheffield Wednesday marked the start of an important week for Norwich City.
After the trip to Hillsborough, it’s Nottingham Forest away tomorrow and then Blackburn at home on Saturday. Maybe this says something about my age and what was going on when I first started watching football but that feels like a run of big games.
It’s worth taking a step back and looking at the position the three opponents over the course of seven days find themselves in. Wednesday haven’t been in the Premier League since 2000, Forest went down a year earlier than that and it’s now 9 years since former champions Blackburn Rovers were in the top flight.
That’s three clubs carrying big reputations and a combined total of 52 years outside the Premier League.
A quick run-down the current Championship table finds that 17 of the 24 teams in the division have been in the top division since the inception of The Premier League in 1992. That list doesn’t include Brentford who are currently fourth in the table. That’s an awful lot of clubs and goodness knows how many thousands of supporters in total who are desperate to get back ‘where they belong’.
There’s no doubt that Norwich City have missed out on some good opportunities to stay in The Premier League over the years and each of their relegations has been tinged with regret. What shouldn’t be underestimated is City’s ability to keep re-inventing themselves and coming back.
Nigel Worthington, Paul Lambert, Alex Neil and Daniel Farke have all managed to haul City back up in the time since Wednesday and Forest were last there. Farke is on course to do it for a second time.
Each promotion has been different whether it’s been inspired by Darren Huckerby, Grant Holt, Wes Hoolahan or Teemu Pukki. There is no magic formula and no sure-fire way of achieving it.
What is clear though is that every opportunity to go up has to be grasped, embraced and enjoyed because it’s very easy to become marooned in the Championship.