The right back position for Norwich City has been a problem for the last two and a half seasons, in my opinion.
When Russell Martin joined us in League One I didn’t really rate him. I thought he looked a bit weak and a bit lacking both in attack and defence. To be fair to him though, he hadn’t been playing a lot of football for Peterborough at that time and then, like many Paul Lambert signings, it all came together for Russ.
His season in the Championship established him as a stalwart of the team and his buccaneering runs up the wing as an attacking full back earned him the nickname, ‘Norfolk Cafu.’
He carried that form into the Premier League and for the next two seasons there wasn’t really a problem. Then came relegation and then the moving of Martin to centre back. By then, we had Steven Whittaker and things were far from rosy at right back. Martin has lost a yard of pace and the move inside gave Whittaker the full back berth.
A solution was needed after Alex Neil dropped Whittaker though, with loanee (not sure that is a word) Andre Wisdom not exactly pulling up trees either. Martin returned to right back and was still the best right full back at the club but another option was needed.
Enter Ivo Pinto, Portuguese attacking right back who apparently did well against Alexis Sanchez and Franck Ribiery in the Champions League before Christmas for Dinamo Zagreb.
Like any player from a foreign league/country, the new boy needs a little time to adapt and having arrived in early January, Neil gave him his debut against Liverpool, a couple of weeks later.
His first game was described as ‘promising’ by several people on Canary Call after that defensive debacle but I wasn’t so sure.
‘Average at best’ is I think, how I described his debut at the time.
He seems quick enough but he’s not lightning. Jordan Ibe and Alberto Moreno caused him problems on that front and he was beaten several times by a trick or two.
He looked alright going forwards and was often to be found in the Liverpool half, getting involved in attacks but then he played against Tottenham.
I don’t think I’m being unfair when I say he was out of his depth on Tuesday night. I hope it’s a blip and just a ‘getting used to the Premier league’ type of thing but I’m not convinced yet.
He was mullered by Rose, Kane and Alli and the memory of him being turned inside out by Harry Kane is one he will need to put out of his mind or risk laying awake at night because of it.
Kane is a very good player but he’s not as skilful as Alexis Sanchez (who didn’t seem to need a bedding in period, by the way) and yet he really made Pinto look foolish.
Things didn’t improve in the second half when the ill Delle Alli (he was that good when he was ill) was replaced by Nacer Chadli, a skilful, more natural wide player.
To be fair to him, Pinto played his part with some decent passing and movement in that second half as City went forward looking for a way to get back into the match but his first two games for Norwich make me worry about him.
We need a decent right back and we need him to hit the ground running, bedding in is not really an option, we don’t have the time.
Much will depend on how quickly he and Timm Klose settle but with Klose, the signs are already promising. I wrote a similar article a couple of days ago about Timm Klose and gave him a 5/10 for his debut. He was solid and exuded calmness.
Bearing that rating in mind I’m going to have to give Ivo Pinto just 3/10 so far. Going forward he looks alright but he was bought to defend, that is our biggest problem and he needs to be making a better job of it very, very soon.