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  1. I thought I would have a look at the evolution of the Norwich playing squad from Gunn’s management to present in the light of many fans thinking our current squad is inferior. Also bearing in mind that we were promoted from the Championship twice in this period. Players are listed in chronological order. I have tried to slot our current players at the end of the chains where they seem positionally best suited. Goalie: Theoklitos/Alnwick, Forster, Ruddy, Gunn, Krul Backup goalie: Rudd, Bunn, Rudd, McGovern Right back: Otsemebor, Martin, Naughton, Martin, Whittaker, Wisdom, Pinto, Aarons Left back: Drury, Tierney, Garrido, Olsson, Brady, Dijks, Lewis CB1: Doherty, Whitbread, Turner, Martin, Hanley CB2: Nelson, Ward, Bassong, Klose CB3: Askou, Barnett, Ayala, Bennett, Zimmermann Holder: Russell, Crofts, Tettey >>> Godfrey or Thompson?? CM 1: Gill, Fox, Howson, Vrancic/ Leitner CM 2: Smith, Lansbury, Surman, Johnson, Dorrans, Reed, Thompson/McLean CM 3: Adeyemi/Tudor Jones, Fer, Odjidja, O’Neill, Mulumbu, Trybull Wide mid/wing: Lappin, Pilkington, Brady, Josh Murphy, Hernandez Wide mid/wing: McNamee, E Bennett, Snodgrass, Redmond, Ja Murphy, Marshall Playmaker: Hoolahan, Pritchard, Maddison, Buendia/Cantwell Playmker2/ high mid: McVeigh, Pacheco, Butterfield, Andreu, Stiepermann F1: Holt, Elmander, Jerome, Rhodes F2: Martin, Kamara, RVW, Grabban, Oliveira, Pukki F3: McDonald, Jackson, Hooper, Naismith, Srbeny F4: Cureton, Johnson, Wilbraham, Morison, Becchio, Lafferty, Mbokani, Watkins I don’t think our current squad is noticeably weaker than those of the past. It is definitely one of the most exciting for a Norwich fan though because of the amount of former youth players involved and because of the team spirit which is epitomized by Zimmermann and Klose. With the exception of Maddison I don’t think we have seen a central midfielder as cultured as Leitner for a long time and Pukki really does have the “Grant Holt” feel about him.
  2. Krul Hanley, Zimmermann, Klose Marshall, Thompson, Stiepermann, Lewis Pukki, Rhodes, Hernandez Subs: McGovern, Godfrey, Passlack, Trybull, Leitner Srbeny, Buendia 3 at the back with wing backs and 2 combatitive mids
  3. Last season we played 10 league games with 3 centre backs and 36 league games with two centre backs. I’ll address the 3 centre back games later but for now lets look at the pairings used in the 4 at the back system. Hanley and Klose played 15 games together – we lost 7 of those games and conceded an average of 1.47 goals/game only keeping two clean sheets.. Zimmermann and Klose played together for 13 games – we lost 4 of those games and only conceded 0.92 goals/game despite allowing 5 goals at Sheffield Wednesday on the last day. We also kept 7 clean sheets! Zimmermann and Hanley played together 5 games; we only lost one of those games but didn’t win any. We conceded an average of 1.2 goals a game. Zimmermann and Franke played 2 games together conceding an average of 2 goals a game and Martin and Franke played away against Millwall; we conceded 4 and the pairing was never seen again. One of our successful spells was from game 6 to 13. In game 6 we started to use Zimmermann and Klose as the centre back pairing and we weren’t beaten for 8 games conceding only 2 goals. Interestingly Pinto played right back in all those games and Stiepermann played left back in 5 of them- Husband played the other 3. This was also the period when the Tettey and Trybull two holder system was used ( in 5 of those games) to great effect. Then followed a dour period when we lost 7 of 10 games. Hanley and Klose played together in 7 of the ten games and we lost 5 of them, conceding 11 goals and not keeping a clean sheet. We experienced another purple patch from games 24 to 38 when we only lost 2 games and only conceded 14 goals in the 15 games. But In 8 of these games we used 5 at the back. (I am not including the Cup games but this period included the Arsenal and Chelsea games in which we also used 5 at the back). Hanley and Klose played together for 4 of the 7 games we played using 4 at the back in this spell – we conceded 7 goals. Of the 8 games in which we used 3 centrebacks in this period Hanley, Zimmermann and Klose were the 3 center backs every game and we won 3, drew 4 and lost only one conceding 7 goals in the process. Lewis played left wing back in 7 of the games (Husband the other). Reed played right wing back in 5 of them (Pinto the other two). It is interesting that Stiepermann never started a game as a left wing back in this system. Also that Farke used Tettey anchoring the midfield in 7 of the 8 games and always used 3 centre midfielders and two forwards. So our two successful periods last year either corresponded to using Zimmermann and Klose as a center back pairing or using 3 centre backs. The Hanley/Klose pairing didn’t work well. This season so far they have conceded 8 goals in 3 games seemingly continuing last season’s trend. Here’s the kicker though: the last 5 times Zimmermann and Klose have played together we have conceded 11 goals and lost 4 of the games. And following on that theme in preseason the pairing conceded 3 goals in two games in Germany, so maybe they are not the answer either. The Zimmermann/ Hanley pairing kept two clean sheets in 5 outings (6 goals against) but conceded 4 goals away vs QPR (that game featured Reed and Vrancic in midfield though- and that was by far our worst midfield pairing for goals against). Perhaps we should go to the 3 centre backs again as both Marshall and Lewis are better suited as wing backs. (Lewis played left back in “a 4” in 12 games last season and we conceded 18 goals for an average of 1.5 goals/game -compare this to when he played in “a 5”; we conceded an average of 0.86 goals a game). Farke would have to use two centre-mids though because I don’t think any of Pukki, Hernandez or Rhodes can be dropped right now. And the squad definitely has not been constructed with a 3 centre back system in mind. Normally to contend for promotion a team should concede one goal a game or less. That means that we need to concede only 38 goals in the final 43 games. This won’t happen unless we seriously rethink our current centre back pairing and defensive structure. Maybe a defensive pairing of Hanley and Godfrey or Godfrey and Zimmermann might be the answer but I think if we use 4 at the back we need to use more conventional fullbacks like Pinto and Stiepermann ( Stiepermann played 13 games at left fullback last season and we only conceded 13 goals). If we want to play Lewis and Marshall or Passlack we need to use 3 centrebacks in my opinion. Two centre backs plus two smaller wingbacks has obviously been overly aggressive based on results so far this season!
  4. I''m looking for advice on posting. I have composed a rather long piece and when I post it in the "Message" box and "Preview" it comes out as a block of continuous text with no paragraph breaks. What am I doing wrong?
  5. It has been well documented how well the team has done when Steven Whittaker has started league games and how the team has had little success when Johnny Howson has started league games. However the reciprocal stats involved are probably more surprising. Whittaker has started 9 games at right back in the league and we’ve only lost 1 of those games and in that game he went off at half time when the score was tied. In those 9 games we conceded 9 goals (1 goal per game) and our goal difference was +4. Russell Martin has started 19 games at right back and we have only won 2 of those, we have conceded 1.79 goals per game and our goal difference in those games is -21.That’s quite a difference. Ryan Bennett started one game at right back and we lost that too. Whittaker played 4 games with Ruddy behind him and 5 games with Bunn so that is not a factor plus he played in the home win over Man U, the away win at Swansea and the away tie at Everton so he wasn’t exposed to weak opponents.   Also of note; in the games Whittaker played we scored 1.44 goals a game as compared to 0.68 when Martin has started. To add a little more perspective, of the 27 goals we have scored this season almost half, 13, were scored when Whittaker started, that is in only 30% of the games. This includes 3 of the 4 goals Snodgrass has scored, 3 of the 4 goals Pilkington has scored and all 3 goals that Bassong has scored. Howson has started 13 games in centre midfield and we have won 2 of those and lost 7. In those games we have conceded 2.46 goals per game (the season average is 1.55) and we have a goal difference of minus 20. That means that in the 16 games that Howson hasn’t started we have won 5, tied 8 and only lost 3. In those games we have conceded 0.81 goals per game, a full 1.65 goals per game less than when he has started and have a goal difference of +2. But he adds offence you say. In Howson’s starts we have scored 0.92 goals per game and when he hasn’t started we have scored 0.94, so essentially the same. The player with the second best starting record after Whittaker this season has to be our hugely influential centre back Seb Bassong surely. Actually it’s not; it’s our much maligned captain Grant Holt. Our record in the 22 games he has started is 7-10-5. That means in the 7 games that Holt hasn’t started we have not won and have lost 5! Interestingly our goals for stats per game are very similar if Holt plays or not but in the games he has played we have conceded approximately 0.6 goals less per game than in those he hasn’t started. The only other player on the roster with a positive starting record is Bassong (I don’t include the Newcastle away game as one of his games as he left after less than 5 minutes). In the 25 games he has started we have a record of 7-12-6 and have conceded 1.16 goals per game. We have lost all 4 games he has not played (if we include the Newcastle game) and have conceded an average of 4 goals per game!! Of interest, when Bassong has played with Turner we have an even playing record and have conceded exactly one goal per game. Every other player on the roster that has played a decent number of games has a negative playing record (albeit in most cases we have lost just one more game than we’ve won), except for, you guessed it, Hoolahan and ….Pilkington! Hoolahan has started 22 games and we have won 7 and lost 7 of those games. That means that we have not won a game that he has not started.  Also interesting is that we have only scored 4 goals in the 7 games that our Wesley hasn’t started.  Even more obscurely we have conceded almost twice as many goals per game when he hasn’t started (2.43 per game) than when he has (1.27 per game). This brings us to Pilkington who has been off form all season if you pay attention to this message board. Pilks has started 21 games and we have won 6 and lost 6 of those. That means that we have only won one of the 8 games he hasn’t started and have lost 4. In those 8 games we have conceded 2.25 goals per game, almost a full goal more than the 1.29 goals we have conceded when he has played. We have also scored 1.05 goals per game when he has started as compared to 0.63 when he hasn’t. I know these are just stats and only reflect games players have started but as we all know our boy Chris doesn’t sub much before 88 minutes and doesn’t switch horses for courses either during games or for games like our former manager used to, so I think they have some validity. Obviously the playing formation, quality of the opposition and team momentum, among other things, can affect player’s stats, but in the end it is the players that create momentum, make playing formations work and beat the top teams.   
  6. D 1-1 W 2-1 D 2-2 W 2-0 D 1-1 L 0-4  
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