Date: 28th July 2019 at 7:40am
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Norwich gave Luton a harrowing afternoon of football, as they beat the Hatters 1-5 in the home side’s final pre-season game before they open the 2019/20 Championship season live on Sky next Friday night against Middlesbrough.

Before the game, I think that most of us assumed that Luton Town would provide a decent test for Daniel Farke’s men as the start of the Premier League gets ever closer.

Luton are, after all, a team on the up having won the League One title last season albeit against the odds. So, when I checked my Twitter feed at 3.20pm on Saturday afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Canaries were already 0-3 ahead.

At the break, City were 1-4 up,  Josip Drmic had his first City hat trick and it looked like the game was effectively over.

That proved to be the case with Luton unable to make any sort of comeback and Patrick Roberts’ 25-yard rocket putting the gloss on a 1-5 pre-season victory in the second half.

Luton played their strongest side and presumably played as manager Graeme Jones wanted them to and has been working on all summer, they simply came up against the free-flowing, possession based Norwich that we all came to love last season.

On the injury front, there is good news regarding Teemu Pukki, Emi Buendia and Mario Vrancic. All three are back in training with Pukki and Buendía being rested after knocks in training and no risks needing to be taken. Both should be involved in the final two friendlies this week against Atalanta and Toulouse.

Vrancic is back in training too but Alex Tettey needs to see a specialist as he still has some blood in his calf. Here’s the boss with an assessment of those injuries and the game.

It must be very disheartening for the Hatters fans though. A good mate of mine is a Luton supporter and we have had plenty of good natured banter over the years with City generally being the dominant side.

I remember standing in the away end at Kenilworth Road back in the 2006/07 season when Simon Lappin stepped up in the last minute to score this cracking free-kick to win the game for Norwich.

We had travelled to the game in Matt’s Fiat Punto and he was in the stand to the right of the away fans. I could actually see him and he could see me.

It had been a ding dong affair with City going behind twice only for Chris Martin and Jason Shackell to equalise twice and then the King of Spain sent me home a happy man. It was a long drive back for poor old Matt.

The Hatters have had their moments though and arguably the best (for them) and worst for us came in the FA Cup in 2013 when they beat City 1-0 at Carrow Road.

We were in the Premier League and they were non-league – it was the height of embarrassment and the rest of the football world loved it.

Matt promised me that he wouldn’t mention it more than once a day – for the rest of my life.

Funnily enough, I kept him abreast of it all yesterday by text but he was strangely quiet though. He didn’t respond much and at the end, I pointed out that same quote he said to me back in 2013 🙂

He says he’s worried now going into the Boro game on Friday night but I’ve reassured him that Middlesbrough are rubbish, after all, City beat them home and away last season!

All joking aside, this was a great performance, although as ever, we shouldn’t get too high or too low in these pre-season outings because the result is almost secondary to getting miles into legs and playing the right formations etc.

Even so though.

Tuesday night sees us welcome Atalanta to Carrow Road and that should provide a much sterner test.

Saturday was also interesting for the news that was tweeted by the club at lunchtime with City announcing that the contract of Ben Marshall  had been “cancelled by mutual consent.”

This took me somewhat by surprise as contracts don’t often get cancelled when a club is in our current position and the player in question is fit.

Marshall became the first signing of last summer and signed a four-year deal with City after he was signed from Wolves for the usual undisclosed fee.

He was a victim of the emergence of Max Aarons at right-back and never played again after he lost his place just before the first international break of last season and Max made his debut at Portman Road.

Marshall clearly wanted to play and decided to take up the offer of another loan spell at Millwall, where he had enjoyed success while on loan there the season before and he joined the Lions again in January.

At 28-years-old, Marshall is in the prime of his career at the moment, although he was clearly not going to add to the six appearances he had made for City at the start of last season, having not even been given a squad number this summer.

So why was he released?

Well, that’s a real puzzler for me. With three years left on his contract and over 200 appearances in the Championship under his belt, he surely had a certain value in the second tier of English football.

City must be comfortably able to pay his wages after promotion, although I’m sure they rather wouldn’t. Was his current wage too high and putting loan suitors off? There has been quite a lot of speculation linking Ben to Hull City this summer and I’m sure he’d be a good addition there.

You can bet that he will be snapped up as a free agent very quickly indeed now. It could just be that the lad wants to play football and that he hasn’t seen the level of interest that he would like, perhaps due to City wanting a fee he and his agent considered too high and maybe his wages were putting off loan suitors?

It would appear then that he has negotiated an exit from the club in order to get a move and play football regularly next season. You can’t argue with that, can you?

There was a lot of moaning about this on social media on Saturday but let’s remind ourselves that our current triumvirate of directors, Ben Kensell, Zoe Ward and Stuart Webber are no mugs. Make no mistake, this will have been done on City’s terms as well as Marshall’s.


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