Speaking With The Enemy – Norwich City

Speaking With The Enemy – Norwich City

This week we’re pushing the boat out and have found THREE Norwich fans to give us their views  ahead of this weekend’s game (Ambassador! With these Norwich fans you are spoiling us….).

Steve Ellis  & “East of Hampstead” (EoH) are both Norwich City Season Ticket Holders – as is Susie, who describes herself as a “devoted fan since the age of 8 when my dad started taking me to home games.  (I think he really wanted a son but I was very willing to go and scream myself hoarse anyway!)”

Still early in the season, but how do you think Norwich are doing so far?

Steve – It has been a strange one so far for us, an opening day hammering at Fulham made a few of us sit up and think we may struggle this season, but since then, fantastic performances vs West Ham, QPR, Spurs and Newcastle have resulted in only 3 points where if we had that little bit of luck on our side that could have quite easily been 10 points, got brought crashing back down to earth by a Suarez inspired Liverpool this weekend though.

EoH – Clearly struggling. A failure to score allied to a leaky defence is (cough) a recipe for failure (that will be my one and only Delia pun).

SusieThis has been a slower start than last season and not such a good one.  (Understatement!)  Obviously letting in 5 goals on two occasions in just six matches doesn’t bode well but there was one common denominator in both of those matches: an identical centre-back partnership that probably needs consigning to a ‘Horrible NCFC Histories’ book!

Were you happy with the business Norwich did in the transfer window?

Steve – Personally I think we did a great job in the transfer window,  we have made some fantastic acquisitions mainly in the form of Robert Snodgrass (another captain signed from our feeder club Leeds United), Sebasstian Bassong, Javier Garrido and Jacob Butterfield (certainly one to look out for in the future) to name a few, few raised eyebrows over Michael Turner though, played 2 and a half games for us and we’ve shipped 11 goals.

EoH – I was hoping another striker was heading our way, and was disappointed when he turned out to be a teenager on-loan from Spurs (Harry Kane).

SusieI was really pleased we bought Robert Snodgrass, although he needs Santa to bring him a right foot that works this Christmas!  Bassong looks like being an excellent buy for us as we haven’t lost yet with him partnering Barnett at the back for an entire game.  I hope the liniment and gauze are working because we need him back asap.  Until last Saturday Garrido at left-back has been a steadying and good going forward but Raheem Sterling ran rings around him so I hope his confidence hasn’t been shot to pieces.  The other signings – it’s a bit early to tell due to injury or lack of time on the pitch.  I felt that we needed another good striker in the window and our relative goal drought has done nothing to change my mind on that one!

Was losing Lambert inevitable? And what did you think when Hughton as his replacement was first announced?

Steve – Losing Lambert was always going to happen, he did such an amazing job for Norwich and we will be classed among our greatest managers, it was a shame the way he left the club and that has left a bitter taste in many Norwich City fans mouths, we always expected to lose him to a big club like a Spurs, Everton or Liverpool and whilst I recognise that Villa is a massive club, it is a sinking ship and has been for a few years. We have a large loyal fan base at Norwich that sold out every home game in league 1 which is sensational so the club has got a lot of potential but personally I wish Lambert all the best for the future but wouldn’t shed a tear if Villa went down…..  As soon as Lambert left Chris Hughton, was the man who I wanted to take over at Norwich, a young up and coming manager who has a lot of respect in the game and I believe he was the choice of most Norwich fans, although some are already calling for his head which is ridiculous. He has a tough job on his hands but I am fully confident he’ll turn this slow start around.

EoH – Lambert moving on was no surprise, but his choice of destination was.  The vast majority were very happy with the appointment of Hughton, though – in true football-fan stylee – many are now qualifying their earlier opinion.

Susie – Yes – he was going to go one day for sure but I think most City fans hoped that, having attained survival by a decent way, he would give us another year to see if he could improve us still further.  I also think many of us felt let down by him saying, on the one hand, that he would be here as long as Delia wanted him here but, by his actions, showing that he knew he was on his way by saying he wanted to wish Norwich City good luck for the coming season when on the pitch after we had beaten Villa on the last day of last season.  You don’t say that unless you know already that you have your suitcase packed.

Which players would you pick out as the danger men for each side this weekend?

Steve – The amount of world class attacking players Chelsea have at the moment is ridiculous, your attack consisting of Hazard, Mata, Torres (when he’s on form), Oscar etc is just scary, if I had to pick out one of those as a danger man then I’d have to go for Hazard, looks an amazing player and could tear some of our defenders to pieces.

The danger man from Norwich would be Grant Holt, he’s an old fashioned number 9 who isn’t afraid of putting his head in where it hurts and he is also quite technically gifted, some of the goals we’ve seen him score down the years wouldn’t look out of place in a world cup final, he was unlucky not to make the euros last year as there wasn’t really much more he could have done to get a call up, but obviously Andy Carroll and his 11 less goals than Holt deserved a call up more…..

Also keep an eye out on Robert Snodgrass, on his day he is almost unstoppable, very tricky player.

EoH – Our dangermen may not even play. Wessi (Hoolahan) does not fit into the new defensive mindset, while Grant Holt may find Steve Morison keeping him out of the starting XI.  There is one other player for Chelsea fans to be wary of; if you sit in the upper tiers or corners and our #4 lines up to shoot, then beware …

CFC’s danger man?  Pick a player, any player.

Susie – I think Hazard looks like he will be superb for you.  If we have a certain duo at the back again this Saturday I think (sadly) he might be beaming come the final whistle.  I know he had a prolonged goal drought last season but Torres was, in my opinion, your best player in the goal-less draw at Carrow Road last season.  His work rate was very good and I think that probably goes un-noticed in the context of a game.  Maybe Chelsea fans appreciate him more because they simply see him more – or perhaps familiarity leads to contempt?  (You’ll need to answer that one!)

Norwich danger men:   hmmmm…Grant Holt if he starts, perhaps; Wes Hoolahan if he starts, perhaps.  Norwich danger men to Norwich:  judging by last Saturday there are probably a few of these too, but no names in case Roberto is reading this!

If you could choose any Chelsea player to join Norwich, who would it be?

Steve – At the moment we seem to be struggling for goals, but Chelsea this year seem to be a more balanced team without an out and out goal scorer, but I reckon Hazard will get a few so that would be my choice although it would have been Drogba if he was still with you.

EoH – Wasn’t Plastic one of ours?

Susie – JT, without a doubt.  He would bring us the most benefit right now and be prepared to put himself on the line for the cause.  Longer term, it would be wonderful to have Hazard to be our creative spark.  That man can light bonfires with his feet!

Is the second season after promotion always more difficult that the initial one?

Steve – There is a lot of talk about the “second season syndrome” although I believe only 5 teams have ever been relegated from the Premier League in their second season. I do believe this year will be a lot tougher though, last season Bolton, Blackburn, QPR and Wolves etc were awful and we took a lot of teams by surprise with our out and out attacking football, Chris Hughton seems to be a lot more cautious about attacking and more intent on defending which we simply aren’t good enough to do so this season it will be a very tough year to stay up especially as the teams who have come up should do well, although I think West Ham may struggle as they looked terrible when we played them, they made Stoke look like Barcelona.

EoH – I think the league may now be reverting to its pre-Premiership format, where the promoted clubs were not automatically doomed. The movement of clubs between the leagues is healthier these days, but our second-season struggles may reinforce the stereotype.  At least we did not celebrate staying up by spaffing loads on ageing Nigerian legends and useless Italian ‘keepers (Agent Marshall, take a bow)

Susie – Well, we had an impressive (so people said) season 2011-12 and 2012-13 was never going to be easy after Paul Lambert’s departure, no matter who came in as manager, but whether we would be doing better under him than Chris Hughton, who knows?   How much of this is due to ‘second season syndrome’ is debatable.  Personally I think it depends on the depths of a club’s owners’ pockets to a large extent.  We have apparently had the most we have ever had to spend on players, wages etc. but we are also paying off the entire remainder of our debt this year so there will be continued debate about this, especially if we end up in the Championship again next season.  Mention the words ‘prudence with ambition’ to any Norwich fan and we are likely to break out in a cold sweat!

What would make a good season for Norwich?

Steve – Quite simply anything other than relegation, it’s all about staying up this year, we cannot afford to go down with the big TV deal next season, if we manage to stay up and Ipswich get relegated from the Championship then it would feel like winning the lottery!

EoH – Simply put, staying up.  And to give ourselves a chance we need to take points from the likes of Soton, Reading & CooPeeArr.

Susie – Survival – in a word.  I know it’s early doors but I would take 17th now, without a doubt.

I’ve spoken to quite a few Norwich fans who say that they enjoy watching Norwich in the Championship more than in the Premiership – do you agree?

Steve – I can see why some fans enjoy the championship more, the championship is a far more exciting league than the Premiership, literally anyone can beat anyone whereas the Premiership you can mostly predict the results and predict who will finish in the top 4 every year, predicting the top 6 of the championship is impossible. We are also in the privileged position of playing in front of a full house no matter what league we are in and the fans in the championship generally tend to be more passionate than the ones in the Premiership, it also helps that we win most weeks as opposed to losing a lot in the premiership, BUT, the Premiership is the place to be, and the longer we stay in the Premiership the better players we can attract and the richer the club will become.

EoH – The ‘flexibility’ of fixture-dates, and scarcity & cost of match tickets in the top flight came as a nasty shock to many. It is nice to be on MotD, even if being patronised is only marginally preferable to being trashed.  And as we are on last every, single bloomin’ week it helps keep us awake for the Football League Show.

Susie – The Championship is a great league to be in.  It is so competitive and a real sod (sorry!) to get out of, but it’s really exciting, especially when you know you are going out there and will be competitive in every game.  Any team in there can beat any other in that division on a given day.  There are no dead certs for anything until the bitter end of that marathon.  Does that mean I would prefer us to be there than in the Premier League?  Hell, no!

When Chelsea got to the Champions League Final – did you want them to win or lose – and why?

Steve – I felt the Chelsea players deserved a lot of credit for the commitment and heart they showed in the run up to the champions league final, although I was disappointed in the negative style that was put in place against Barcelona and Munich, but it worked and I was happy for Di Matteo as he’s a good man and a good manager so I did want you to win that night, mainly because you were representing England and it was brilliant getting one over the Germans on penalties on their home soil.

EoH – Sorry, but I’m old school. It is always ‘Anyone But the English side’ for me.  If you need a logical reason, Abramovich’s approach to football is only causing the wealth-gap to widen (how is that ‘break-even’ thing going for you?)

Susie I went through every emotion in my house watching ‘him indoors’ watch Chelsea get through to the final.  He was in Munich for the final itself and so I had the house to myself on that historic night, When Drogba’s penalty went in and the celebrations started I almost screamed the roof off for ‘him indoors’ just imagining the elation he must have been feeling at that moment.  Yes, I wanted Chelsea to win, with bells on!  It is great for English football and sticks one on Messrs Blatter and Platini, which is a big bonus in my eyes!

Who has been your favourite ever Norwich player and why?

Steve – I’ve been going to Carrow Road since 1993 which was part of our most successful period when we were the team to beat so we had many great players back in those days, Jeremy Goss, Chris Sutton etc but for my favourite ever player it would have to be Darren Huckerby, that man almost single handedly won us the league and showed such commitment to the club once we were relegated, he allegedly had interest from Liverpool but wanted to stay in Norwich because he loved the club, not many players show loyalty anymore and he is now a current season ticket holder at Carrow Road, complete legend. Grant Holt runs him close though

EoH – Robert Fleck (and nothing to do with the profit we made on the deals!)  He played football with a smile, engaged with fans and – this may be the killer for me – he avoided the lure of media work when he finished playing, meaning that his reputation is untarnished by meaningless platitudes uttered in exchange for bucket-loads of cash.

 Susie – I have to say Darren Huckerby.  He was the catalyst in our promotion season of 2003-4 and put the excitement back into Carrow Road.  The sheer drama of events leading up to us finally signing him permanently in December 2003 was something I will never forget.  He was probably the worst header of a ball I have ever seen but the most exciting with a ball at his feet.  Really good memories!

Will you boo John Terry?

Steve – No I won’t boo John Terry but I don’t have any respect for the man, great footballer but a horrible person

EoH – No, not even if I was present. He is an East-London boy who has been surrounded by the football bubble for most of his adult life – in short, he is a creation of his environment.

Susie – Me?  No.  He wasn’t the first to say something he shouldn’t on the field of play and won’t be the last I think it’s unfortunate but JT is a bit like Marmite: you either love him or hate him.  Apart from the fact I would be eating Vegemite, I am one of those very rare souls who sees him as the player and leader he is on the pitch.  For those things I admire him; for his previous off-field activities I might easily judge him as a bit of a maverick, or worse, but I don’t know him personally and so don’t feel worthy of judging him…plus the man whose socks I wash is a lifelong Chelsea nutter and always makes sure I get a ‘balanced’ view of everything in his blue-tinted world!

Finally, what do you think the score will be?

Steve – I think we were unlucky up at your place last year but you’re a different animal this season and so are we, so I think it may be a hiding on our part, I am going 4-1 Chelsea with Holt as our goal scorer.  Good luck and enjoy the game

EoH – Another defeat for City is on the cards, but Bon Accord’s record is safe.

Susie – Heart says 2-2.  (Holty and Morison to add to their goals against Liverpool).  If x and y are our central defenders again then my head says you might repeat the 5 of Fulham and Liverpool…and some!  We got a draw at ‘Three Point Lane’ recently and should have actually won that one, so hope springs eternal.  That’s all I can say until Ruddy is busy picking the ball out of the net, then I will stop counting the flying pigs and look forward to our next game…at home to Arsenal!

Posted by Trizia

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One thought on “Speaking With The Enemy – Norwich City

  • Steve’s prediction… played!

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