Hurrah, league football is about to return and hasn’t it been a long two weeks? I imagine that Daniel Farke and his squad could’ve done without it in some respects, having finished on a loss against Stoke.
There’s always the worry of players picking up injuries whilst away on international duty and Teemu Pukki gave us all a fright on Monday evening when he was substituted for Finland with a muscle issue, just 12 minutes into the win over Greece.
Early signs are that it isn’t serious and was more of a precaution, with Teemu being quoted as saying that he’d felt something in the warm-up. Even so, it shows how fragile our squad is when one of the bigger profile players gets a knock. On the plus side, the break should hopefully see Grant Hanley return to training.
Norwich get back to the business of Championship football this Saturday with a tough looking away game against Nottingham Forest and a reunion with a couple of old adversaries.
109-year-old Daryl Murphy used to play in blue for that lot down the A140, while Lewis Grabban used to play in yellow and green but did little to endear himself to the Canary faithful while plying his trade at NR1.
Forest have thrown money at the problem of being stuck in the Championship and under new owner, Evangelos Marinakis they have decided to have a serious punt at promotion this season.
They have a big(ish) name manager in Aitor Karanka and currently sit fifth in the table, one point above Norwich. Whilst the Canaries’ record reads W5 D3 L4, Forest’s looks like this W4 D7 L1 suggesting that they are hard to beat.
Forest have decided to ignore youth and try to buy in some success, meaning that some of their youth are having to wait for a chance under Karanka, while others, like Ben Brereton who is a terrific young attacking prospect at just 19, has been loaned to Blackburn with Rovers set to make that permanent in January.
Having said that, Brereton has failed to score for Blackburn so far, so maybe we should give Karanka some credit. Seriously though, I would’ve been more than happy to see the lad join Norwich in the summer, he is a talent.
The City Ground has a 30k capacity and reports suggest that it will be very close to a sell out for this match. Forest have generally always been a well-supported team and the atmosphere should be pretty special as two of the Championship’s form teams face off against each other.
As I mentioned at the start of this piece, the international break has implications and complications for coaches when they get all their players back and are able to assess them. I read that Jamal Lewis took some flak from his own fans in Northern Ireland’s defeat at the hands of Bosnia, hopefully, his shoulders are broad enough to brush that off.
This time last year, after a great run to get the season back on track, City started to struggle and eventually left the playoff chase to other more worthy challengers. The task this time around for Daniel Farke will be to sustain the good performances we saw through September and not let it drift away again.
Before I sign off, I thought I’d just share with you my abiding memory of Nottingham Forest from a midweek match at Carrow Road in the mid 90’s.
This was the era of Stan Collymore, Steve Stone (not that one) and of course, Stuart “Psycho” Pearce.
I remember that Pearce didn’t come out for the warm-up at all for this particular game. Was he going to play or not? It was obviously strange that the Captain wasn’t warming up with his teammates and I assumed that he was maybe injured.
When the teams came out of the tunnel though, there he was leading his men out. When they saw him, the travelling Forest fans went absolutely mental. I was sitting in the South Stand and watched as he ran over and stood in front of them, with both his fists clenched and they chanted “PSYCHO, PSYCHO, PSYCHO.”
The energy coming from both Pearce and his adoring fans was amazing, they were feeding off each other. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a visiting player get such a reaction before or since at Carrow Road. The intimidation levels were cranked up to ten and, don’t forget, we were the home team.
He was a terrific player and if you’re trying to imagine what I’m talking about, think of Pearce after he scored his penalty in Euro ’96 against Spain. That’s what it was like and the game hadn’t even kicked off yet.
As it turned out, we drew the game 1-1 although I also remember Pearce crashing through three sliding, studs up type tackles in quick succession in front of us at one stage. I imagine the ref would book him or send him off these days for “being out of control” or something ridiculous like that.
Fortunately, they no longer have Psycho playing for them but make no mistake, this will still be a tough game. If you’re going, have a great day.