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Daniel Brigham

Robert Snodgrass - which side were you on? (latest blog)

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Farwell Robert Snodgrass, the Argos Arjen Robben leashed to a lamppost. By Daniel Brigham Not many Norwich players have severed opinion quite like Robert Snodgrass. There

was no middle ground. Most were convinced that he was either Norwich''s

best player, the conductor of all things good, or he was a whingeing,

tumbling, one-footed blind alley.  Truth is, he was both. Our

first glimpses of him were promising. Shoulders hunched, head down,

left foot gnawing away at the ball, right foot an accessory; he was an

Argos Arjen Robben. He attacked defenders, created chances and, with

more pace, may have wooed a top-six club. Yet, as every

performance became a slightly smudged carbon copy of the previous one,

doubts surfaced. Last season, those doubts turned to frustration, and,

with some fans, frustration turned to anger. Defenders had got wise to

him. Snodgrass, it seemed, wasn’t savvy enough, and his game not nuanced

enough, to react to this. He spent most matches engaged in his

own tantric football, where the pass always came too late. He ran like

he was giving someone a piggyback and when attacking would barely shift

from a small circumference on the right of the penalty area, yapping and

straining like a dog leashed to a lamppost. His increasing

predictability meant that you could at least take your mind off the

on-pitch horrors by playing Snodgrass Bingo: uses left foot when he

should use right; cuts inside when he should hit the byline; loses the

ball and falls over; moans at a referee after falling over; slows down

attack; strikes the first man from a corner; tracks back without marking

someone. Bingo! That final point – his tracking back – was where you would find out which side of the Snodgrass fence fans were on. Many

admired his “work-rate”, “guts” and “passion” for running back, using

it as proof that here was a man who put the team first and gave the

mathematically dubious 110% every match. Problem was, when he did get

back, he made roughly 0% effort to tackle or close down. His tracking

back was just keeping up appearances, a man stepping in to break up a

fight after it''s already fizzled out. There is still a very good

player wrapped up in the enigma of Snodgrass. He was outstanding during

Norwich’s unbeaten run in 2012-13, when he replaced Elliott Bennett.

With Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington joining him in a three ahead of

two holding midfielders, Norwich were penetrative across the width of

the pitch. This year, far too much of Norwich’s play was

directed through Snodgrass, like he’d set up roadblocks to divert the

traffic his way. Despite the amount he saw of the ball – and at times it

bordered on stalking – he ended the season with just two Premier League

assists to his name. We shouldn’t forget Chris Hughton’s role

in this. If Snodgrass became one-dimensional, it was because the manager

didn’t employ an attacking coach. If Snodgrass slowed down attacks, it

was because Hughton insisted on playing him only on the right, despite

it becoming increasingly clear that he isn’t a natural winger at the top

level. He cut inside so often from the right that you started

to wonder if he was actually wing-phobic, the sight of the advertising

boards and white lines giving him the shivers. Greater still was his

fear of the left, which existed somewhere around Nigel Farage levels.

His reluctance to swap flanks throughout matches was as self-serving as

it was detrimental to the team.Instead, his attributes – good

first touch, quick feet (or foot) and a feel for space – have always

suggested he would be better suited to playing at No.10. Neil

Adams recognised this and nudged him into the hole, where his staccato

dribbling was still infuriating but often more penetrative. Even when he

stumbled down blind alleys playing centrally, at least those alleys led

into the penalty box. Too late, we had a tantalising – but ultimately

depressing – glimpse of what could have been. So farewell Robert

Snodgrass. We will miss your left foot, your goals, your beard, your

celebration, but we won’t mourn your stumbling, stalling and moaning.

You were the best of players, you were the worst of players. Now you are

Hull’s to argue about.Daniel Brigham is features editor of The Cricketer magazine. He tweets at @cricketer_dan

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[quote user="ricardo"]We are certainly weaker without him and that''s all that really matters.[/quote]

That is the question though isn''t it?   Isn''t it that the good things were negated by the bad things, giving a 50/50 scenario rather than being either weaker or stronger......     Good is only good if it isn''t spoiled by the bad.   The conundrum over Wes over the years has been whether his brilliance is outweighed by his worse displays.    With Snoddy, it often is a one horse show, good or bad - or both.

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[quote user="ricardo"]We are certainly weaker without him and that''s all that really matters.[/quote]I don''t think that assertion is ''certain'' at all, Rick.  Just because we''ve sold him it doesn''t definitely follow at all.If by selling him we buy someone else who enables us to be more competitive using different strategies/tactics, then it may well turn out in the long run that we are stronger.The only question mark is whether we have someone as good in dead-ball situations, but things have a funny habit of sorting themselves out on things like that. I bet that someone else comes to the fore and excels in that regard.

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[quote user="ricardo"]We are certainly weaker without him and that''s all that really matters.[/quote]Wise words[Y]

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Hard to say if Norwich are weaker without him or not. As Dan alludes to he might have been better in a more central role, but as a winger he is one dimensional.

He has qualities, but often teams improve when the ''best'' player is removed as there is less focus on one man. When Henry left Arsenal they became a better team, Henry himself said

"Because of my seniority, the fact that I was captain and my habit of screaming for the ball, they would sometimes give it to me even when I was not in the best position. So in that sense it was good for the team that I moved on."

I feel this also related to Snodgrass - he constantly screamed for the ball and everyone seemed happy to give it to him - whether it was the best thing to do or not.

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Difference with Henry is that when he was at his peak at Arsenal, they were a miles better side. They didn''t win any trophies when he left either. Perhaps he had dropped slightly by the time he was sold.

I think we are well better off without Snodgrass with £8m to spend elsewhere.

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I hesitate to argue with Ricardo, when he writes

"We are certainly weaker without him and that''s all that really matters..", but I am not so sure.

He has a very good left foot, although his free kick goals partly eluded him in his second season, and he scored 7 goals, just about as many as all the strikers added together.

But he has his limitations. He is slow, and made our attacks down the right somewhat ponderous. He could seldom get the bye line and pull the ball back for onrushing strikers. Firstly because he was too slow and secondly his right foot is vastly inferior.He chose the right, and made the right footed wingers, Benno and Redders, play on the left, and to follow him by cutting inside and crossing with the stronger foot.

Ricardo may prove to be right. Initially, of course, we are weaker without Snoddy, as we are technically by the loss of Fox. Much depends on the players Adams brings in and the formations he employs, as well as the form and development of Bennett and Redders. If it all goes well, we should be quicker and more attacking, as well as being threatening on the breakaway, so I will hold to my position for the moment.

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I think we are weaker without him only in the sense that one option in the squad has been removed. One issue for me is that he was played the same way in almost every match, game in, game out, regardless of the situation or the opponent or the state of the game. He seemed to be the first name on the sheet. I don''t think he was so good that he had to be an automatic choice. However as a squad player he would have been useful, a great left footed free kick and on paper the ability to put in a decent cross to a target man. But we rarely dominated possession high up the pitch to mitigate his lack of pace, and we had no target man. I''m not unhappy with the sale, but I would still like to see some new CBs in.

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I don''t think it''s clear cut that we are weaker without him. I think he would have been a very good Championship player if played centrally, but would still have slowed attacks down on the right. In the comments section under this piece on the EDP, someone has claimed that Snodgrass should have been played as a left winger. Blimey.

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I liked Snoddy, but, as said, we became way too one dimensional. If you are going to base your team around one player, then it has to be a better one than Snodgrass. Think Huckerby.

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[quote user="Daniel Brigham"]
 
That final point – his tracking back – was where you would find out which side of the Snodgrass fence fans were on.
 
Many admired his “work-rate”, “guts” and “passion” for running back, using it as proof that here was a man who put the team first and gave the mathematically dubious 110% every match. Problem was, when he did get back, he made roughly 0% effort to tackle or close down. His tracking back was just keeping up appearances, a man stepping in to break up a fight after it''s already fizzled out.
 [/quote]

Glad someone else has made that point and it''s something I''ve been saying since his first season here.

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The thing with Huckerby is that he was miles better than the championship defenders that faced him. He had a capable team around him as well. In the premiership he was no longer that much better than the full backs he faced and often not as good and the team wasn''t improved enough around him. Snoddy was like Hucks in that premiership season was for us but not quite as dynamic.

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[quote user="Jimmy Smith"]The thing with Huckerby is that he was miles better than the championship defenders that faced him. He had a capable team around him as well. In the premiership he was no longer that much better than the full backs he faced and often not as good and the team wasn''t improved enough around him. Snoddy was like Hucks in that premiership season was for us but not quite as dynamic.[/quote]I think theres a fair few full backs that will disagree with you there re Hucks!

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[quote user="Bethnal Yellow and Green"]Hard to say if Norwich are weaker without him or not. As Dan alludes to he might have been better in a more central role, but as a winger he is one dimensional.

He has qualities, but often teams improve when the ''best'' player is removed as there is less focus on one man. When Henry left Arsenal they became a better team, Henry himself said

"Because of my seniority, the fact that I was captain and my habit of screaming for the ball, they would sometimes give it to me even when I was not in the best position. So in that sense it was good for the team that I moved on."

I feel this also related to Snodgrass - he constantly screamed for the ball and everyone seemed happy to give it to him - whether it was the best thing to do or not.[/quote]Whilst Thierry Henry played for Arsenal they won the League twice, the FA Cup three times, and were runners up for the Laegue 3 times as well as reaching a Champions League Final.Since he left they have won 1 FA Cup (last season) and haven''t seriously challenged for the title or the Champions League. I am failing, despite what Thierry might himself say, to see how they became a better team

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I for one am sad to see him go. For me those who constantly berated him failed to see what he brough to the team. |He had his limitations, but for the most part they were limitations of the system in which he was asked to play. I loved Snoddy and for me he was our best attacking player, I am sad to see him go and I think it is a great loss. Watch him fly at Hull next season when he has two strikers to feed (both of whom are good in the air)

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Can''t put that all down to Henry leaving. The immediate impact of him leaving was a better team due to a more equal spread of responsibilities.

They hadn''t won anything in his last three seasons at the club because they were becoming too reliant on Henry and clubs knew that shutting him down, shut down Arsenal. Similar to the way teams knew shutting down Snodgrass meant shutting down Norwich.

You could see the influence Snodgrass carried with Norwich even in his short spell at the club, can you imagine any other players being able to snatch the ball away and take a penalty from Ricky?

I''m not making direct comparisons between the ability of Henry and Snodgrass, but more the fact their presence made their teams one dimensional. Its undeniable Snodgrass was the most focal player, and the most demanding - which is why he could sometimes lift the team up, but often resulted in other players failing to take responsibility in fear of a verbal.

Remember the game where Snodgrass just shouted at Ricky for almost an entire half for failing to get onto a bad pass - Ricky was so angry he needed to be calmed down by other players. Doesn''t suggest a good team mate to me.

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[quote user="Bethnal Yellow and Green"]Can''t put that all down to Henry leaving. The immediate impact of him leaving was a better team due to a more equal spread of responsibilities.

They hadn''t won anything in his last three seasons at the club because they were becoming too reliant on Henry and clubs knew that shutting him down, shut down Arsenal. Similar to the way teams knew shutting down Snodgrass meant shutting down Norwich.

You could see the influence Snodgrass carried with Norwich even in his short spell at the club, can you imagine any other players being able to snatch the ball away and take a penalty from Ricky?

I''m not making direct comparisons between the ability of Henry and Snodgrass, but more the fact their presence made their teams one dimensional. Its undeniable Snodgrass was the most focal player, and the most demanding - which is why he could sometimes lift the team up, but often resulted in other players failing to take responsibility in fear of a verbal.

Remember the game where Snodgrass just shouted at Ricky for almost an entire half for failing to get onto a bad pass - Ricky was so angry he needed to be calmed down by other players. Doesn''t suggest a good team mate to me.[/quote]I see your point but I can''t agree with you. He was our ''go to man'' for a reason. He has bags of ability. He is frustrasting at times, annoying at others, but he was the one player in our squad aside from Hoolahan who was genuinely capable of creating something out of nothing. He will be sorely missed, and when he is playing for Hull with better strikers in front of him you will see why .

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It''ll be interesting to see where he plays for Hull, who''ve usually played a back three under Bruce. I can only think he will either play as the left-wing back or as part of the midfield three, either on left of centre or as a no. 10,  in such a system.
  

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Hi Saturday BoyDon''t quite get your point that Hull having strikers who are good in the air will benefit from having Snodgrass there (other than from set-pieces). One of Snodgrass''s main drawbacks was cutting inside and looping slow balls into the box, rather than whipping them in first time. Strikers much prefer the latter. Put him in the hole behind a striker who sits on the shoulder of defenders (such as, erm, RvW) , and he would be far more effective.

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[quote user="Daniel Brigham"]Hi Saturday BoyDon''t quite get your point that Hull having strikers who are good in the air will benefit from having Snodgrass there (other than from set-pieces). One of Snodgrass''s main drawbacks was cutting inside and looping slow balls into the box, rather than whipping them in first time. Strikers much prefer the latter. Put him in the hole behind a striker who sits on the shoulder of defenders (such as, erm, RvW) , and he would be far more effective. [/quote]Think he will play that position for Hull (or at least An attacking midfield role) as they don''t tend to play with wingers.I actually think some of those balls you speak about (not sure I''d call them slow or loopy) were crying out for a hungry striker to make something out of them in your peice you made the point of how effective he was in that unbeaten run of 2012/13 - when he had a traditional number 9 (Holty) in front of him.I know you don''t agree with me but I truly believe that he is a quality, quality player, and that he will show that at Hull.Time will tell if I''m right

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I think he''ll play as a number 10 Phillip, behind Long and Jelavic with Huddlestone and Livermore holding midfield behind him. Don''t think he has the defensive abilities to be a wing back.

With European football I think Bruce wants as many options as possible, will be interesting to see if he plays well a different position (if that is where he plays) or if he is gradually move back onto the wing. He''s done the number 10 thing a few times for Scotland and been reasonably good there.

I wish him all the luck, Norwich would have almost been certainly relegated in 2012/13 without him and his set-pieces - but once that seemed to dry up he didn''t improve other areas of his game enough.

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Good debate this, I''m enjoying it, just goes to show that 2 different people can see things entirely differently. I have never known a city player like Snoddy though, who seems so admired by many, but then equally as many people don''t rate him.

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To be fair Saturday, even when he was excellent during that unbeaten run most of our goals still came from set-pieces!If played through the middle at Hull - which, as Bethnal points out, is likely - then I think it''s a good (but overpriced) signing for Hull. Never believed he''s a natural winger at the top level.

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[quote user="The Saturday Boy"]He is frustrating at times, annoying at others, but he was the one player in our squad aside from Hoolahan who was genuinely capable of creating something out of nothing.[/quote]The problem is he was also very good at creating nothing out of something!

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To answer the OP, not on his side. I don''t completey blame him as I think Hughton and his tactics were also responsible.

Maybe the lad is better in an attacking line up, I don''t know. But alas at Norwich, I believe he slow so many attacks down that he was responsible for so many of our dire games.

Watching Algeria last night, we saw them looking to attack the Germans at pace whereas Germany were slow and laboured and I believe lucky.

That is how Norwich were last season with Snodgrass having the lion''s share of possession and not doing enough with it.

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