by Thomas Rooney
I dread to think how many times my beloved Norwich City have lost a game they shouldn’t have done in recent years. It’s getting boring. Whether I’m listening or watching the game, the amount of times we have played well but were unable to convert our chances is ridiculous. Inevitably, the opposition get half as many chances, but take enough to win the game and condemn us to another defeat.
I wasn’t exactly surprised to know that this was the case again in the season opener at Coventry. It sounded as if we dominated the majority of the game and would have been unlucky to come away with a point let alone a defeat. The fact is, we can play as much pretty football as we like, but if we don’t convert the chances we create – it is worthless. We are not clinical enough in front of goal and that has been the case for quite some time now.
Take Lee Croft. Now, I don’t like singling people out and in fairness to Crofty, Jamie Cureton, Wes Hoolahan, Arturo Lupoli and Omar Koroma all missed chances on Saturday as well. However, Croft frustrates me more than most. He just panics when in front of goal. He has no goal-scoring ability and more often than not he will waste an excellent chance to grab himself a goal. It’s the same with his crossing really – nothing ever really comes from it. He will work hard, get in good positions, take people on – all good attributes for a winger – but to use an old term, he seems to get a nose bleed whenever he gets anywhere near the penalty area. It’s something he needs to improve fast because if not, I would place all my football betting money on it costing him his place in the side.
In his post-match interview, Glenn Roeder was rather critical of the amount of opportunities that went begging – which is a positive thing. We can’t afford to make the same mistakes we made last year in front of goal and Glenn knows that. He won’t allow it. In a statement that challenged Lupoli, Cureton and Koroma – who are the three strikers currently at the club – Roeder said that “When the new man is here there will be three other strikers fighting for one place playing alongside him. To get that place they will need to be putting chances away, making and scoring goals which is a forward’s job simple as that.” Wise words from the manager, I have to say. Hopefully the strikers will get the message.
Of course, the state of the game was completely changed by a ridiculous penalty decision. Sammy Clingan was alleged to have fouled Guillaume Beuzeli in the penalty area despite minimal contact from the former Nottingham Forest man. Elliot Ward converted the spot-kick and it was advantage Coventry. I guess you can’t help it when decisions like this go against you, but in truth, it should have been mere consolation for the Sky Blues. We had enough chances to win the game and can’t blame the referee for the defeat I’m afraid. Even if it is the easier option.
Overall, I can’t get too downhearted about this defeat. There were enough signs there to suggest we will improve on last year. Hoolahan and Lupoli were a constant threat to Coventry and when the new striker comes in, we could have a very capable attacking trio. I fully expect a victory over Blackpool on Saturday and I’d even like to see the football odds on us going unbeaten for the rest of August. Rather optimistic I suppose, but I guess I am just trying to convince myself that everything will be ok!
Next up though is a trip to the MK Dons in the Carling Cup. I honestly could care less about this competition. However, in terms of preparing for the visit of Blackpool, a convincing 3-0 win wouldn’t go a miss.