Normally I`d be quite downhearted about an International break because they are as dull as ditch water.
England are usually either playing World Cup or European Championship qualifiers against teams much weaker than them, that they labour to beat OR they`re playing meaningless friendlies like those upcoming against Germany and Brazil.
The number of withdrawals from the England squad has been embarrassing this week, as well. I imagine that those players will almost all be fit to return to Premier League action after the break though.
Like I say, embarrassing.
Anyway, this International break is a little different in that there are actually some meaningful games in the form of the World Cup play-offs. The prospect of Wesley Hoolahan qualifying for Russia 2018 would be a terrific finale to a great career and I shall be watching in the hope that the Irish can make it. The same goes for Northern Ireland and good luck to Michael McGovern too.
The best thing about this break though is that I think that Norwich City looked like they needed it – badly.
Three defeats in a row has left the Canary nation a little downhearted and desperately hoping that Daniel Farke can use the two weeks to turn things around again, just like he did after the drubbing at Millwall.
To my mind, and I`m sure it`s as obvious to you as it is to me, it is the need to score a lot more goals. The loss of Nelson Oliveira to injury for much of the season so far has been a big blow. Coupled with the absence of Alex Pritchard and the visible draining of Cameron Jerome`s confidence in front of us, it all adds up to a costly few months in front of goal.
Jerome looks to have suddenly lost his powers, almost overnight. He`s been a goal scorer in the top two divisions for the last 13 consecutive seasons (credit to Archant`s Ian Clarke for that stat) but just one goal so far this season is little short of pathetic. He cost just (a rumoured) £2m but is receiving (a rumoured) £30k a week. He`s been a big player for Norwich since Neil Adams signed him, in the Championship if not the Premier League, but is increasingly looking like he has had his day.
Cam has got another two years left on his contract, with the club holding the option of another year, meaning he could be here until 2020 if the option is exercised. If that rumoured £30k a week salary is correct then he`s earning £1.56m a year. Football is awash with ridiculous salaries and as a fan, I don`t really care what someone costs or what the club pay for him, as long as he does the business on the pitch. It`s only when a player`s performances dip that salaries are even mentioned.
What is Nelson Oliveira earning, or Wes Hoolahan or James Maddison? I don`t know and don`t care because those lads deliver and at the moment, Cam certainly isn`t.
It`s a quandary for Daniel Farke because he doesn`t have any other real options up front in Nelson`s absence. Marley Watkins was tried against Wolves but was almost anonymous apart from an early header. Not really his fault, he`s a winger being asked to play as a striker. I can only assume that Fonkeu and Abrahams aren`t better options and aren`t ready for the Championship. Farke sees them in training and U23 matches and I don`t.
The return of Oliveira can`t come soon enough and recent videos on his Instagram account of him training in Portugal are encouraging. If he`s fit after the International break though, how long will he stay fit? His Norwich career has been characterised by runs of 5-6 games before he picks up a knock or a niggle and he misses a similar number of games. It worries me.
Do Norwich have enough cash to buy someone in January to help? It seems not and that a player sale might be needed to provide funds. The big worry is that James Maddison is the most likely candidate to go.
Oliveira realistically needs to get fit and stay fit. The return of Alex Pritchard and Alex Tettey also can`t come soon enough and if that happens then I`d be confident we can compete for the top six. If it doesn`t and we`re left with a confidence bereft Cameron Jerome as our only option up front, then we`ll finish mid-table. There`s talk among fans and the press of a possible recall for Carlton Morris in January and right now, I`d take that but I`m well aware that he`s scoring in League One and not the Championship – there`s a big difference.
Can Daniel Farke find new found confidence and attacking prowess in his squad?
We all hope so. In the meantime, I`ll be cheering on Wes Hoolahan and keeping my fingers crossed.