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Daniel Brigham

Norwich's balancing act - latest blog

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Norwich fans can''t wait for a season that promises attack, attack, attack but Neil Adams must get the defence right. By Daniel BrighamIt''s strange, some of the things you can remember. Nine

years on, I still recall the one irrefutable conclusion I made after a

first scan of the 2005-06 Championship fixtures: Norwich wouldn''t have

trouble beating any of the sides in the division. Forget about

those reservations over Nigel Worthington, never mind the Great Craven

Cottage Crash, it was going to be easy. Norwich would be like Richard

Ashcroft swiping and swatting everyone aside in the video to Bittersweet Symphony. An immediate return to the Premier League was a certainty. Well,

that went well. Three successive 1-1 draws (''It''s ok, we''re playing

well – the wins will soon come'') followed by a hat-trick of defeats

(''We''re screwed'') and the Premier League was a pinprick on the horizon, a

dream that dissolves as soon as you wake up.  Reality had

bitten: the Championship might feel like a beach holiday, a short break

from the Premier League, but all too suddenly you look up and realise

you''ve swum too far from the shore.  Perhaps memories of that

sudden flatlining of hope back in 2005 are why Norwich fans appear to be

approaching this season cautiously. The fixture list is full of

quicksand and snipers in the night. We are exposed targets and there are

17 former Premier League teams out there waiting to ambush us. Seventeen!  So

far, though, caution appears to be mingling with optimism. Perhaps we

needn''t be quite so fearful of what lies in store. Attacking football

was promised and, in pre-season, delivered. The acquisitions of Lewis

Grabban and Kyle Lafferty give the team a new dynamic and provide varied

attacking options (after two years under Chris Hughton it might be

worth reminding yourself that ''options'' doesn''t just mean substituting

one striker for another similar striker when losing).  Plenty of

our attackers have much to prove, which can only be a good thing. Wes

Hoolahan and Andrew Surman will be eager to show that they should have

been central to Hughton''s plans. Elliott Bennett will be itching to make

up for lost time, while Nathan Redmond will want to prove he belongs in

the Premier League (don''t try too hard though, eh Nathan?). Gary

Hooper, as well, has shown in pre-season that he has retained his hunger

– most notably, it seems, for large amounts of food. Hooper’s

stature may have raised a few eyebrows, and Ricky van Wolfswinkel''s

say-it-ain’t-so departure looks like an error, but there is more than

enough quality in our attacking players to suggest scoring won''t be a

problem. And that''s how Neil Adams wants it. He has spoken of

having to score goals to get out of the league, and cited the promotions

of Leicester City and Burnley last season as justification – they were,

after all, two of the division''s top four scorers.  Like

stumbling across a king’s banquet after months of eating only muesli and

spam, it is refreshing to hear a manager put the emphasis on attack,

attack, attack after two seasons that brought a forlorn 0.91 goals per

game. But, without wanting to poop the party before the party has even started, we need to talk about the defence. While

Burnley and Leicester scored plenty last season, they also had two of

the top three tightest defences. In fact, of the six best defences in

the Championship, five finished in the promotion and play-off places. It

doesn''t all have to be about goals: the season before, 13 teams

outscored promoted Hull City, including Peterborough, who were highly

entertaining but also highly relegated. Of more importance,

perhaps, is that the top three in the Championship last season had the

three healthiest goal differences. Leicester, Burnley and Derby County

showed that, above all, the key to a successful season is balance. All-out

attack has to be wrapped with caution; it can’t be care-free. If

Norwich are going to throw off their clothes and go dancing in the rain,

then that’s brilliant; we’re aching for a bit of adventure at Carrow

Road. But someone has to ensure no one’s going to steal their clothes

and run off with them when they''re not looking. For that to happen, Norwich have to get their defence right. Michael

Turner and Martin Olsson are Premier League quality; the lack of bids

for the latter is surprising but welcome. Steven Whittaker plays like a

winger clumsily converted into a full back. Javier Garrido is stable.

Nothing more, nothing less. Russell Martin didn’t look like a Premier

League right back last season and barely looks to be a Championship

centre back. Seb Bassong, rightly or wrongly, appears to have as much

chance of playing again for Norwich as Patrick Kielty. Ryan

Bennett, popular with a large section of fans, has never really

convinced – his long, aimless punts can be a thing of slapstick beauty –

but he is still young and we need to find out once and for all whether

he is good enough. Turner and Bennett certainly sounds more reassuring

than Turner and Martin; signing a new centre back would be even more so.In

front of that defence will be Bradley Johnson, whose covering is often

as effective as putting a towel over your head in a game of hide and

seek. In a long season Johnson will be very useful – and he is capable

of dominating some games – but he should be back up to the more mobile

Alex Tettey.  Get the balance right – and that must mean keeping

hold of Olsson – and Norwich can storm into the top two on the back of

goals galore and judicious defending. Get it wrong and, however many

goals we score, it might not be enough.  Daniel Brigham tweets at @cricketer_dan

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You cant compare it to nigels team

when we got relegated we could field a 1st 11 and that was it we had not depth and the subs bench was a joke

now we have relative strength in depth and a squad rather than just a starting lineup

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excellent on style but woefully lacking in contentto compare this squad with the players we had in 05/06 only has validity in that the club was in the PL the season before"and there are

17 former Premier League teams out there waiting to ambush us. Seventeen! "
yes, and if they were any good they would not still be in the Championship - no mention either of how many clubs in the 2nd tier had been in the top tier when we were relegated in 74, 82, 95 and 05whilst the defence is torn to pieces there is no mention of the chap behind them - one of our greatest assets and surely the best keeper in the Championshipsadly if mr bingham was a tightrope walker his balancing act would not have got further than a foot or so along the tight rope - as the clue to balancing is to have roghly an equal weight on either sidethis hasn''t

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[quote user="Molly Windley"]Good piece .....................................[/quote]Still a good piece if read properly.........................................

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Pretty uncontroversial Mr. DB and nothing really there that hasn''t been thrashed out on this Board over the past two months.


Our attacking options do seem to be exciting, although if we lose Becchio, as is to be expected, then I would want one more in as replacement. It''s a long hard season in the Championship  and any club that can afford strength in depth, as we are led to believe we can, is best served by having adequate numbers in the striking department. We were awash with strikers last week and this felt good. Now we have lost RVW and Hooper is apparently injured. With no clear indication that Becchio is in Adams''s plans either, we are suddenly exposed on this front IMO.


Ditto the central defence and you are, of course, correct in advocating a decent signing in the centre-back department now that the Bassong situation seems impossible to redeem.


We are a strong squad, my doubts are more with the capabilities of the manager than with those of the players. 

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Ah, it''s great to hear from you again City1st. Not sure how I got through the summer without you. Agree Ruddy will be one of the finest keepers in the PL, but keepers can only be so good behind a dodgy defence - with your logic he should''ve kept us up last season... Also, I wasn''t comparing squads from 05-06. I was comparing moods.

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