by Thomas Rooney
I remember Simon Lappin’s first game for Norwich. It was at home to Leeds United in February 2007. Peter Grant had just signed him from St Mirren and he made his debut along with current skipper Mark Fotheringham. Leading up to this game, we had lost our last three in the league and three points against relegation bound Leeds was vital.
We managed to win the game 2-1 thanks to goals from departing duo – Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby. In terms of football betting, we were odds on to avoid the drop thanks to this victory. One of my overriding memories though, was that Simon Lappin looked a quality player. His touch was good, his passing was good and his defending looked solid. We only signed him for £50,000 and I thought we had ourselves a real gem. So why, a year on, did he find himself back in Scotland playing for Motherwell?
Lappin finished the 2006/2007 season as a regular starter for us – he varied between left back and left midfield, but one way or the other, he was in the team. Then, at the beginning of Peter Grant’s first (and last) season in charge he was still very much in the fold. A cracking strike against Barnet in the Carling Cup was quickly followed by a superb free-kick at home to Cardiff City. However, as the awful Grant era began to diminish – so did Lappin’s form. He was often exposed at left back and was criticised for being too light weight. I felt sorry for him in a way as I think everyone knew he preferred to play as a defence minded left midfielder. With Adam Drury constantly injured though, he was forced to for fill a role in the back four.
Grant was then dismissed and Glenn Roeder picked Lappin to start in his first game in charge at home to Ipswich. I remember this being one of Lappin’s better games as well – he showed the quality he first displayed on his debut. However, after being involved in the home defeat to Watford, Lappin fell to what I like to call the ‘Plymouth away syndrome’.
When we travelled to face Ian Holloway’s Plymouth, little did Lappin know that it could be the last game he plays for the club. After a game in which we lost 3-0 and, by all accounts, looked like a pub team – Roeder openly criticised a number of players. He said that ‘often you learn more about your players after a defeat’. This was a significant moment in our season.
Since that day, Lappin is one of four players that were involved who haven’t played a game for the club since. Julian Brellier, David Strihavka and Ian Murray were moved on by Roeder and Lappin spent 2 months on the sidelines before completing a loan move to Motherwell. Other players to suffer the ‘Plymouth away syndrome’ were Michael Spillane and Chris Martin – they have only made three appearances between them since being involved in this defeat. Four of these six players were Peter Grant’s signings and perhaps it is no coincidence that in the next 17 league games, Norwich only lost once.
Unlike Brellier, Murray and Strihavka – Lappin, Martin and Spillane have a chance to impress Roeder as they are still contracted to the club. Lappin has performed well for Motherwell in Scotland and even bagged himself a couple of goals – including the winning goal against eventual SPL Champions Celtic at Parkhead. However, it seems that he is willing to fight for his place at Norwich and is going to speak to Roeder about his future before making any decisions.
I actually admire him for this. He could easily say he wants to stay in his ‘comfort zone’ in Scotland; his team will be in the Uefa Cup next season and he will be a major part of their plans. Instead though, he appears willing to sit on the bench at Norwich, waiting for his chance. He feels he has something to prove. I would presume that as Roeder didn’t sell him straight away, he might see something in Lappin’s game that he likes.
So, should he stay or should he go? Well, as much as I don’t think that Championship football betting will be affected by where Lappin’s future lies, I think we should keep him as a squad player. At the moment we are fairly short on the left hand side and Lappin could at least provide cover for this area. A lot of players (like Ian Murray) would look to jump ship straight away, but Lappin is 100% committed to the Carrow Road cause and for that reason alone I think he should be given a second chance.
I get the feeling that Roeder won’t be as sentimental as me though.