Northstander: ‘It’s certainly not boring at Portman Road these days that’s for sure!’
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Northstander TERRY HUNT looks at a derby clash where the positives were evident, even if the result wasn’t quite perfect
So, how did you feel as you left the ground?
Frustrated that we still can’t end our winless run against the old enemy, or exhilarated by what Paul Hurst is trying to do at Portman Road?
I’ll tell you one thing – it’s certainly not boring!
There’s always something unexpected, something to debate, even something to argue about. Who would have thought that Bart would be dropped, for instance? Gone is the sterility, the predictability and the utter mind-numbing tedium of McCarthy’s last two seasons.
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But – and it’s quite a big but – there is still a huge amount of work to do.
Early days, of course, but we are in the relegation zone without a win this season. No-one wants that.
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I said last week that this is the worst Norwich side for years, and that was obvious for pretty much the whole game. They had a little ten-minute spell before they scored, but apart from that they were atrocious.
Which makes it very frustrating that we didn’t take the opportunity to beat them for the first time in nine years.
After Edwards’ goal, we had just a glimpse of that long-awaited victory.
We should have won. We still lack that killer instinct.
In a way, the game was a microcosm of our season so far: a mixture of encouraging signs and things which worry me.
On the encouraging side I would definitely include the return of Walters.
Usually, a player coming back to his old club at, ahem!, quite an advanced footballing age would be a recipe for disaster.
But, with Walters, you just know it will work out, simply because of the character he is.
First and foremost, I was impressed by his energy, considering he’s hardly played any first-team football in quite a while.
In the second half, he was beginning to strike up a good understanding with Jackson. His skill, experience and know-how will be a big bonus.
I also think he can be a really important role model for the younger players who are desperate to prove themselves at this higher level.
Remember, Walters had a tough time early in his career, and was playing for Chester when Town spotted him.
From there, his fantastic work ethic and attitude drove him on to a successful Premier League and international career. Watch, learn and admire, boys!
There was one classic moment which sums up Jonathan Walters.
The Norwich keeper was running to clear the ball in his left-back position. Walters, no spring chicken these days, went charging across to close him down, and the clearance hit him and went out for a throw. Huge cheers from the adoring crowd. Welcome back, Jon.
Pennington, the new loanee centre-back from Everton, looked assured enough. If he can bring the same quality to that position as Carter-Vickers did last season, then we will all be very happy.
But we mustn’t ignore the downsides.
As I said, we are in the bottom three and we haven’t managed to win a game so far. Although Hurst played two up front, we still look short of goals. Jackson has great pace and runs his socks off, but he needs to work to improve his first touch. Walters can be a good mentor for both him and Harrison.
There’s lots of endeavour in midfield, lots of pressing, and lots of closing down, but we still lack that creative spark.
How we miss any one of Huws, Dozzell, and Bishop. We need to be able to unlock stubborn defences.
Perhaps the player who exemplifies the Paul Hurst way better than anyone is Edwards. I love the way he ALWAYS takes on his man.
He doesn’t worry about losing the ball, and that confidence must come from the manager. What a contrast.
So, despite the league table, despite no win, and despite being disappointed about not beating Norwich, I’m still upbeat.
Not blinkered to our shortcomings, but positive. I’m not even pressing the worry button yet, let alone the panic button.