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Daniel Brigham

Redmond: hero in the making

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Hi all, here''s my latest blog, where I totally overhype Nathan Redmond. He''s going to be good though, very good ... here''s hoping he starts tomorrow.


Ruel Fox''s shuffle. Darren Eadie''s baggy shorts. Neil Adams'' shoulder drop. Ken Foggo''s sideburns. Darren Huckerby''s hunched shoulders. Dale Gordon''s wiry mop.

There is little more impressionable to a young kid than wingers. Even more than strikers they stir young souls, an intoxication mash-up of pace, invention, scoring, trickery and the awesome ability to suddenly send waves of noise across the stands, orchestrating the atmosphere like no other position in football.

Norwich City have had plenty of cult heroes marauding down the Carrow Road flanks, in touching distance of the fans. Dale Gordon and David Phillips were my first football crushes, but the emergence of Darren Eadie changed everything. I went from being a fan of football to being a football fan.

While I remember his long, baggy shorts, his burst of pace and his love of a rising shot from outside the box, what stays with me the most is the noise he generated. Giving him the ball was like switching the plug on at Carrow Road, a hum turning into an electrified roar.

I am not alone. After asking the Pink''Un message boarders for their favourite Norwich winger, they replied in their hundreds; many of them (the sensible ones) picked Eadie. But the range of names, from a smattering for Mark Barham to plenty for Huckerby (none for Luke Chadwick though ...), suggested was instant nostalgia, the same thrill you get from looking through photo albums.

Now it is Nathan Redmond''s turn to capture the imagination of young Norwich fans, to be remembered for decades to come. Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington are both very fine players, but, on early impressions, Redmond has something more about him, something that may ensure his name is stamped on the back of shirts across Norfolk. It''s not just that he has the best haircut since Dale Gordon, he also has footballing charisma.

Of course there''s a danger of hyping him too much. For every Gareth Bale there''s a Freddy Adu, stumbling in the face of their own potential. But, in the pre-season game against Brighton, Redmond was the best player on the pitch. He ran at defenders, he found space easily, he rarely looked down with the ball at his feet, he picked out team-mates, he made the right decisions, he showed an exacting eye for goal. Unusually for this Norwich side he was also very quick, with and without the ball.

This is an era when wingers are often instructed to come inside rather than take full backs on, a hangover from Jose Mourinho''s insistence on curtailing the natural attacking instincts of the likes of Arjen Robben. Keeping possession is rule no.1, and cutting inside means you''re less likely to lose the ball. It’s not as fun though, is it. You don’t get crowds leaping to their feet in expectation when James Milner once again steps back inside to pass back to a holding midfielder. It’s wingers, clipped.

Luckily, the fashion appears to be changing, fired by the brilliance of Bale. Manchester City''s capture of Jesus Navas, a winger who can rapidly turn defense into attack (and possibly water into wine), suggests that other Premier League sides are keen for their own Bale. Like Navas, Bale is direct, he likes to beat players on the outside and the inside, and he rarely passes backwards. This will partly be down to his eagerness to impress his new team-mates but perhaps it is also due to him knowing he is good enough to beat a defender more times than he will lose the ball. He will create more than he will give away.

Some might worry that Chris Hughton will inhibit Redmond''s natural desire to take players on. But, having previously worked with Hughton, would Redmond have chosen to move to Norwich if he thought he was going to be moulded into a more defensive player? The signs from the pre-season friendlies are that Hughton is happy for Redmond to hit the byline, to play his natural game.

If that is the case, and Redmond delivers on his early potential, all across Norfolk there will be kids with mounds of cress-like hair protruding from the tops of their heads, eager to look like their new hero, the man who runs up and down the Carrow Road touchline, beating players, scoring goals and making football magic. These kids will have Nathan Redmond written on their shirts. It is a name Norwich fans will be hearing a great deal of for years to come.

Daniel Brigham is features editor of The Cricketer.

Follow him on Twitter: @cricketer_dan

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That was good, thanks

Whilst we will get the inevitable inconsistency and occasional frustrations, it is very clear to me having just seen some of the pre season action that he is going to be huge for us, cant wait! 


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