Friday, August 8, 2008

Championship Preview - Norwich City

This post is going to be a true test of Bigus's ability to be objective. Can I possibly review my beloved Norwich City without turning the team into the wet dream 11? Marching to the Premiership via 100 pts and 100 goals?

I'm gonna try people. I can't promise anything, but I'm gonna try!

It's been a weird and eventful summer for Norwich supporters. We have had bitching, moaning fans lamenting the lack of activity all over the interweb. We've had billionaires sniffing around and trying to take control of the club on the cheap and upsetting the applecart in the process. We waved goodbye to Dion and watched as a Huckerby was sent packing without a send-off. AND, we had a late flurry of transfer activity that inspired us '"I told you so" er's', us optimists, to fire back at the afforementioned bitching moaners! With me? Good.

Optimistic Norwich fans Bigus? What? Yeah we exist... We are the minority and a rare breed. Pessimism rages strong in Norwich, along with a certain dry sense of humor that many of our fellow countrymen don't understand. It's a Norfolk 'thing'. We are generally a County of Cassandra's. Most Norfolk people are not happy unless something is wrong!

So let's have the low down on that busy summer then Bigus!

Lets start with the THAT Billionaire.

People do not become billionaires by being generous do they? No. They try to squeeze blood from a stone. In this particular case our 'hostile' billionaire came with a smile. He used the press to get the fans on board without ever actually telling them that his offer was completely unacceptable or that he had in fact made an offer. Which he hadn't! Crafty old boy is Peter Cullum. The result was dissapointing for me to witness. While the current board have made mistakes in the past, they did not deserve the nasty abuse they were subjected to this summer. Apparently, Delia Smith was upset by much of it and so she should be. In reality, many people were forming opinions, trying, judging and executing Smith with absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Just a few words from an insurance billionaire stating he wanted to give Glenn Roeder 20 million. While this sounds wonderful it does not take care of the club's debt or the shareholders. The truth around this 20 million was also a mystery. Rumors of clauses and loans to be repaid have be circulating. Lack of knowledge did not, however, stop many from directing their anger at Delia.

Delia: Took a battering this summer.

I am not going to dwell on this topic any longer because it's pointless and now over. Needless to say, THIS City fan remembers an empty Carrow Road pre-Delia. THIS City fan also remembers crappy facilities and no player budget. We may have had a tough few years since relegation but Delia and company have built a ground that is filled every Saturday, top-notch facilities, risked money on record transfers such as Dean Ashton and Robert Earnshaw, brought Premiership football and a play-off final. Some people have very short memories indeed. That said, Norwich fans would turn up to see a team of Gary Doherty clones play in cow shed if they had to. Their passion and support can never be doubted. We just want to go up! Oh yeah... and to be entertained while doing it. That Stoke way will just NOT do! Is it too much to ask?

The Huckerby saga...

I'll keep it brief because this topic has occupied space in this part of the web world a few times this summer. Here and here to name two places where you can read more on the subject!

No one really knows why Roeder sent Huckerby packing. Why would you get rid of the most popular player in recent history? A player who entertains with mazy runs and spectacular goals? Sure he had some injury issues last year but not enough to suggest he couldn't be a big part of this years team. Personally, I see a new guy trying to make his mark in a new town. That town had a popular sheriff, one who was very influential with the players and the fans. Unfortunately, Norwich is a one sheriff town. Roeder has pinned the badge on and made that very clear.
Look forward and not back!
The Peter Grant appointment was a wrong 'un and with the sacking of Worthington and Grant, two seasons have been wasted. Recent history, but history all the same. This new season brings a fresh start. Glenn Roeder has spun through the club like a tornado. He has not only replaced the playing staff but lots of key 'players' behind the scenes. Coaches have been fired, a physio sent on his way. Even the kit man was handed his p45. The Roeder era has certainly begun and he has surrounded himself with HIS people. Last season was all about survival. Now is for the re-building and the crack at promotion.

Comings and goings
On the pitch Roeder has made 11 new signings. All of the new guys are challenging for a first team place. To do so he cut 9 players. Huckerby and Velasco (jessh) and 7 kids who were not challenging for a spot in the team any time soon. Outgoing players included the Jarvis brothers (Rossi and Ryan), Andrew Cave-Brown, Steve Arnold and Bally Smart.

After a slow start to the summer Roeders newbies started to walk through the Colney doors. More recently that door has been left open to save the hinges from permanent damage!

Hoolahan: The new Huckerby?

In came the experienced Dejan Stefanovic, the much fancied Wes Hoolahan (ripped City to shreds for Blackpool last season), David Bell, Stuart Nelson and Sammy Clingan. Roeder also opened his little black book to cooerce a few young loans from some top clubs. Ryan Bertrand arrived from Cheslsea (he was here last year and proved to be a super signing). Elliot Omozusi from Fulham, Spurs reserve team captain Troy Archibald-Henville, Omar Koroma from Portsmouth, Arturo Lupoli from Fiorentina and John Kennedy from Celtic. Norwich are still missing a vital piece of the puzzle and will start the season without him.
We are closing in on a big target man! We have been linked with stacks of em... Ameobi, Rasiak, Vaz Te, Howard, Iversen and even Heskey. Roeder says that 2 more are on the way, taking his summer recruitment drive to the grand total of 13. This would be the most new players signed by any Championship team this season. Add these newbies to some of the good players we have, Darel Russell, Lee Croft, Jon Otsemobor, Jamie Cureton and David Marshall and suddenly things look brighter than they have been for a while!

Russell: 4 goals in pre-season.

What's really pleasing is that ALL of Roeders new signings are first team fodder. This gives us depth at every position on the pitch. It's been a while since I could say that!!

While loans are not permanent (doh) they are an excellent way to obtain quality from the Premiership without busting the bank. But Bigus...They will go back to their teams at the end of the year! So what...We go up? Awesome...Thanks for playing...60 million is on the way and the spending can begin. We stay down? Well maybe we can sign some better loans for a promotion push next season...Or get some of these back! It's a win win for me folks. (Sidenote: The popular misconception about loaning a player is that it's a cheap option. It's not really. Loan players from Premiership clubs are on higher wages AND there is a hefty loan fee. That fee is sometimes much more than most Championship teams pay for a player who transfers permanently. )

I digressed a little there and for that I apologise, I tend to do that from time to time. Still there? Good. Back to our new season.

At right back Otsemobor will face competition from the incoming Omozusi. At left back Adam Drury returns from a year of injury hell and finds himself fighting for his place. His spot surely now belongs to Ryan Bertrand. He was impressive last year and will only get better. Out wide there was only one player that would possibly be accepted as a replacement for Darren Huckerby this off season. The fans talked about him constantly. Wes Hoolahan! He will occupy the left wing slot.
On the right Roeder has 3 options. David Bell, Lee Croft and Luke Chadwick. Spoilt for choice. All three would find a place in the starting 11 of most teams in the Colaship. Up top the elusive target man will be sorely missed as City kick off at Coventry tomorrow but in Lupoli they have an exciting young player. Bigus can see him being a great success.
When that target man does finally arrive, Lupoli will be competing for a spot in the line up with Jamie Cureton. An in-form Cureton scores goals for fun, an out of form one misses sitter after sitter. The competition that Lupoli will provide is exactly what is needed.

Omar Koroma is a young Ghanaian forward that Roeder has described as "a beautiful mover'. He arrives on loan from Portsmouth. Pompey boss Harry Redknap sent him our way for some much needed experience. Expect him to be used as a sub this year unless, of course, that 'beautiful mover' shoots his way into the line-up!

For me our weakest area last season was at the back. Shackell switches off for spells and I am not the biggest fan of Gary Doherty. Especially when he gets beaten and pulls down his opponent with a move that Kimbo Slice would be proud of. He should have been sent off on at least 3 other occasions last term. He was lucky indeed! So it makes old Bigus happy to see the experienced Dejan Stefanovic arrive. Sure he is 33 but that Premiership experience will be vital this year. Alongside Dejan? Roeder could play John Kennedy. Kennedy arrives from Celtic after 3 years of injury misery. If he settles in and stays injury free then he could be the guy to partner Stefanovic. The other option is Shackell or the 19 year old Troy Archibald-Henville from Tottenham. Whomever Roeder decides to play, he certainly has choice this year and I hope that the competition will provide some much needed focus. We conceded far too many sloppy goals from a lack of concentration last season!

In Midfield we have added Hoolahan and Bell. Both come highly recommended. We all know about Hoolahan but Bell is a bit of an unknown quantity. We also signed Sammy Clingan. He is a holding midfielder. We haven't had one of those since the days of old three lungs Holt, Clingan played 46 times last year for a team that gained promotion to the Championship (Forest) and they wanted to keep him! So he can't be bad!

So there you have it. We kick off at Coventry without David Bell on the right and missing a big man up top. Add a bunch of players getting their feet wet for their new team and that's us! Is that a worry? I don't think so...We are currently pretty deep and I am more than happy with what we have in the squad. The only downside is that maybe Roeder will tinker because he has the choice! He likes to play just one winger as a rule so having Hoolahan AND Croft in his midfield (during Bell's abcence) may not be in his thinking. If not, expect a 5 man midfield. Last time we played at the Ricoh we were vitim to the Velasco fiasco. Spanish trialist Juan Velasco had such a nightmare that he was pulled off after 20 mins. He never played again! Thank god.

Norwich City class of 08/09

Ok I'm done! Now you are all familiar with the 2008-09 Norwich team. One thing left for me to do here...The prediction!

I can see a target man arriving any day, giving us options up-front, we have 2 'starters' at every position and this could and should be a pretty decent season. I think the top 6 should be a realistic target for a club the size of Norwich with this squad.

Play-offs here we come! Up the City!



Autoglass said...

Tough loss, Bigus. Seems you had the run of it. When does the target man arrive? You certainly need him.

james said...

We need to take one of the 10 chances that were created! And not be the subjects of a retarded ref who awards a penalty for nothing

Bigus Dickus said...

Bastard ref...Where does he live?

Kopper said...

The ref was awful, but we still can't put the ball in the net. I'm hoping Iversen arrives soon. Not sure why Roeder laid into Croft so hard at the press conference afterward-- if he was so awful, why did he wait until the 70th minute to sub him for Russell?

Autoglass said...

Always remember that Roeder is a son of a bitch. The guy can manage, to be sure. But all reports are that he is a right bastard. He'll throw guys under the bus at will. But, hell, so do several great managers.

Kopper said...

Make that the 80th minute to sub out Croft.... You're right, Roeder will air dirty laundry for all to see. That means Roeder needs nothing less than superb results, as no one will put of with a mediocre bastard.

Bigus Dickus said...

It has worked before. Force him to improve. Croft's decision making was the issue.