Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Daniel Brigham

Why Grabban's loss could be crucial (latest blog)

Recommended Posts

Norwich have been at their best this season when Lewis Grabban has started and his loss could prove crucial. By Daniel Brigham Remember when Lewis Grabban wasn’t being picked? There

he was, sat on the bench. There he was, shunted out on the left. There

he was, watching Cameron Jerome score, score, score.Remember that? Now

look at the despair that greeted the news of Grabban’s ankle surgery.

Despite the presence of Gary Hooper and Jerome, who have scored 26 goals

between them this season, Grabban’s injury was given immediate Major

Loss status. It came on the back of an uninspiring display

against Wigan, in which the recent finesse and energy were replaced by

clunkiness and toil. It was a performance not dissimilar to those

mid-season slogs when Norwich’s great started turned into a blip that

turned into a lengthy loss of form that turned into angry booing that

turned into replacing the manager. It no longer seems a

coincidence that Norwich’s descent down the table came at the same time

that Neil Adams decided to replace Grabban with Jerome as Norwich’s main

striker. Despite Grabban’s impressive start, scoring five in his first

six games as Adams employed just one up front, Jerome’s intervention at

Cardiff, when he inspired Norwich’s comeback from 2-0 down, and his

subsequent two goals at Brentford in the 3-0 win made it very difficult

for Adams to ignore his impact. So the manager took the easy

option. He played both Grabban and Jerome, ignoring the 4-2-3-1 system

that had delivered the early-season success. Then, when Grabban began to

misfire, he was dropped. But, while Jerome kept scoring, Norwich

started running against the wind, winning only five of their 16 games

post-Brentford up until Adams’ resignation. If Norwich don''t achieve

promotion this season, Adams'' mishandling of Grabban could prove to be

his unfortunate legacy. Since Neil has taken over, Grabban has

started in six of Norwich’s eight wins and played only 11 minutes of the

two defeats. If we take the whole season, from the 66 possible points

on offer from Grabban’s 22 starts Norwich have won 44 points (2 points

per game); from the 69 points on offer from Jerome’s 23 starts Norwich

have won 33 points (1.4 points per game).This isn’t to say that

Grabban is the sole reason for Norwich’s success, nor is to berate

Jerome, who has had a fine season and has scored vital goals. But there

is often a fluidity to Norwich’s game that is missing when Grabban

doesn’t play. While his finishing often looks like a happy accident –

penalty rebounds, miskicks, unseen deflections – his strengths suit a

team that like to move the ball quickly in attack, which is why he was

such a success at Bournemouth under Eddie Howe, and why he has shot back

to form under Neil. His first touch is defter than Jerome’s,

and he operates far more comfortably in tight areas (Jerome’s turning

circle can occasionally bare an uncanny resemblance to the BBC’s hippo

ident). As a consequence attacks flow better. Grabban’s mobility and

movement also creates more space for the midfield, or a No.10 such as

Wes Hoolahan or Gary Hooper, to operate in. There is also less

temptation to waste the ball and hit him as a target man – his

reluctance to compete for headers is beginning to look like a reminder

to his team-mates that they should be playing it on the ground. Under

Neil, Norwich’s high-pressing and quick movement has slickly undone the

best of defenses. Against Wigan, though, they played like a drunk

struggling to get a key in the lock, banging on the door, waking the

neighbours up and then finally giving up and sleeping on the doorstep

for the night. Grabban’s incision was missed.There were, of

course, other factors at play. Nathan Redmond appears to have lost a

little of his zip – it’s been a long season for Norwich’s only trusted

out-and-out winger. Graham Dorrans looked exactly like someone who had

started just one game for two months. Alex Tettey’s absence meant

Norwich failed to build from the back as quickly, with Bradley Johnson a

poor imitation. Johnson has been a marvel when on the left this season,

but he’s not suited to the holding midfield role, which is why Gary

O’Neil’s untimely injury has been such a frustration. Neil,

though, has so far proved to be a canny manager, which is why there was

no sense of panic after the Wigan defeat. In stark contrast to the loss

against Brentford, when far too many fans reacted as if Neil had been

caught putting cats in a bin, there is a well-earned sense that the

manager will put it right on Saturday. The key will be finding a

way to adapt to the loss of Grabban. While it seems absurd to have to

dip into the loan market when you have Hooper and Jerome offering the

sort of depth that most Championship clubs hyperventilate over, neither

of those strikers share Grabban’s major assets. Either Norwich

adapt their style of play to suit Jerome – which would mean going more

direct – or Neil finds a Grabban clone. Promotion may depend on whether

he gets this decision right. No pressure, then. Daniel Brigham is a freelance journalist and editor. He tweets at @dan_brigham

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder if a Murphy is the answer to Grabban being missing, or a Redmond back on fire.  We certainly have looked much more annoying to play against when Grabban is up front harrying defenders into rushed clearances etc.  Murphy could do that - either of them.  Will be good to get Tettey back involved too,  asap, as his speed is helpful in front of the defence.   The way we play is set now. High pressing play - we have to use the players that are capable of that.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

An odd thing to say about a footballer, but he always looks a graceful player to me. I''ve seen him throw entire defences with a swift & timely change of direction.

A lot of his goals are ''lucky'', but that''s as much a testimony to his off the ball movement as anything, which gets him into the right positions.

Although a different type of player, I still think Josh has the skill set to panic opposition defences. I feel it''s mostly a confidence (& experience) problem for him. I don''t know what''s up with Redmond, he should be tearing defences apart, but he will keep delaying after receiving the ball. I was hoping he would have had this trait coached out of him by now, but I wonder if he ever will.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with all of that really.


But then I was one of few who thought Grabban should have been more involved than he was when he was on the sidelines.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Would rarely use ''graceful'' to describe his finishing but agree that it applies to his build-up play and movement. Everything just moves quicker and more precisely when he''s involved.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...