Saturday`s match against Stoke at Carrow Road was notable to the national media for the performance of Jack Butland in the Stoke goal and the debut of Xherdan Shaqiri. For the rest of us, it was notable because Norwich had 21 attempts on goal but only managed to score once.
Yes, Butland had a good game but Jerome and Redmond should`ve both beaten him. Redmond`s effort in the second half was inside the area and fired across the Stoke keeper but not quite in the corner enough to nestle in the net, while Jerome failed to hit the target when put through one-on-one with Butland as he skewed the ball horribly wide from eight yards out.
It was arguably as poor a miss as when Lewis Grabban struck the Crystal Palace post from six yards on the season`s opening day, providing more evidence that a new striker is needed and most fans would agree.
However, be careful what you wish for.
Cameron Jerome has been a big player for Norwich since joining last summer for a bargain £1.5m fee from Saturday`s visitors, Stoke City. He scored 21 goals, including the opener at Wembley Stadium and put in an awesome performance as he bullied Middlesbrough`s back four and in particular the centre backs. Jerome brings a lot more to the party than just goals.
His sheer size and physicality are an imposing presence for any centre back he plays against, I`ll wager that after dealing with Jerome for 90 minutes, no player says “I had him in my pocket.” He is quick, athletic and wins aerial balls as well and if you watch him carefully will also “leave a little bit” on those centre backs as he chases them down or after they`ve just played the ball. It`s never malicious and he never looks like he`s trying to hurt anyone but it`s like he`s just letting them know that they`re in a game as he barges and bundles them over.
That aspect of his game reminds me of a certain Grant Holt, the last player of that type we had. Of course, Holt would kill for Jerome`s pace, while Jerome would probably like to have a little more of that unerring ability to find the net that Holty has always had.
Jerome does miss chances, as he showed on Saturday, it`s why he cost £1.5m and not £30m but as I mentioned before, he brings so much more to Norwich City than just goal scoring. He can count himself unlucky not to have scored with two overhead kicks in the first three games this season, in any case.
When I say “be careful what you wish for,” I`m referring to the type of player that we could potentially sign in the next seven days. The last time we were in the Premier League, we were relegated because we simply couldn`t score enough goals. £8.5m was spent on RvW and another £5m was spent on Gary Hooper – both had good goal scoring records in other leagues. Neither of those players were in the mould of Holt or Jerome though. Prior to that season, Holt had been the main man and was top scorer in each of his four seasons at the club. I`ve lost count of the times that he bullied and harassed his way to getting goals on the way to the Premier league, as well as helping keep us there.
Holt wasn`t quick but he made up for it with effort, even when 1-7 down to Colchester United on his City debut, he did not stop running and Jerome is the same. RvW and Hooper are not like that, Ricky isn`t going to get you too many goals in the EPL by hustle and bustle and I doubt there is a centre back he could bully anywhere in the top flight. Ricky`s game is all about guile and making clever runs, hoping his team mates will find him with a ball that dissects the back four and puts him in. Basically, he`s asking “give me the ball and I`ll put it in the net.” If only!
When Alex Neil looks to bring in a new striker, he needs to make sure (in my opinion) that the player has the work rate to match the goal scoring statistics. Cameron Jerome brings a lot to our side with his work rate and I wouldn`t want to sacrifice that for another expensive white elephant striker who doesn`t hustle and bustle and says “give me the ball and I`ll score” without wanting to put the miles in.
I think that Alex Neil knows this and that is what we will end up with, I hope so anyway.
Imagine if you took Jerome out of the team and played RvW all the time. I think we would immediately become less of a threat going forwards. I know Ricky has his fan club and I`d love to see him become the superstar we all wanted him to be when he joined us two summers ago but he doesn`t have the physical traits to do it and we would lose a vital element of our game if we did. That`s why I`m not keen when I hear us linked with Dwight Gayle.
I want us to buy a striker that is a goal machine but that also runs all day and harasses and bullies his opponents just like Holt in his prime – the only problem there is, I think I`m describing Diego Costa.
Seriously though, the choice of strikers in that mould isn`t too big in England and that`s why we have also looked abroad in this window. Benik Afobe is young, hungry and in the same sort of mould as Jerome but will cost considerably more, assuming the Wolves at Molineux can be persuaded to do business.
I expect us to go back with an improved offer for Afobe but all the cards are stacked in Wolves` favour. Whatever happens, it will all go down in the next week and there will be a few more twists and turns yet – I read today that Newcastle are considering making a move for Afobe.
I`m confident that he is, but I`m hoping that Alex Neil is singing from the same hymn sheet that I am.