Personally, it was very gratifying to see Marley Watkins scoring his first goal at Carrow Road on Saturday. As you may have noticed in my previous pieces, I have hyped him up quite a bit. I have even compared him with Jamie Vardy in some of his traits.
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I am also a real admirer of footballers who do right on the pitch and say right outside of it.
Marley`s body language is also revealing. I like when players get upset at themselves when they make a mistake. In the Brighton match you can see after he controls poorly a cross from the left, in the first half, that he starts yelling at himself quite harshly.
Players should act as professionals and part of being professional is to take account for errors and learn from them. As in any other job, good performers will more often learn from mistakes and try to avoid any lapse of concentration.
Carlos Bilardo, before being the Argentina National Team head coach – and winning the 1986 World Cup – was a doctor. He said to a reporter once: “I ask my players to be focused at all times. A doctor has to be 12 hours focused so his patient doesn`t die; I only ask for 90 minutes?”
On Saturday, I saw Chris Goreham interview Marley after the preseason draw against Brighton for BBC Radio Norfolk. Watkins seems a focused individual off the pitch. On it, it might be still too early to know, but there are some good glimpses of what we can expect.
Marley talks about the group as being quite a humble bunch. He says that “the boys work in training every day as normal people, as if they haven`t achieved anything, when they have achieved a lot.”
In my opinion, on one side this accounts very well for Daniel Farke as he has been able to blend players from different generations, but also shows a great attitude from the older players to work as role models for the younger ones.
In a previous interview, Marley named Cameron Jerome as one of the biggest influences he felt on the pitch, and that he had also helped him a bit to adapt to the new surroundings. Hence, I find it quite interesting that he started beside Cam on Saturday, playing as a second striker.
I think this may well be the start of a good partnership between Cam and Marley, as they are both different players who might end up balancing each other quite well. Cam generally has a good first touch and Marley knows how to make the runs – but he can also be that “Fox In The Box” that Norwich have been lacking in previous years.
I find it very useful to play with two strikers when situations call for it, and it was something that I would have liked to see more often in the Alex Neil era. Nevertheless, in order to make good things come out of it, there needs to be a plan.
I always got the idea that when Neil got two strikers on the pitch, they where always players so similar in their traits that in a certain way they cancelled each other and stood in their own ways. I don`t recall either Mbokani with Jerome, Lafferty with Jerome or even Oliveira with Jerome, having enough chemistry to start together at a regular basis. They are not complimentary.
But, when you put in the mix two different players, and on top of it there is chemistry between them, only good things will come.
I personally think that one of the reasons behind Leicester City winning the Premier League, and Vardy scoring so many goals, was the dirty work done by Shinji Okazaki and Leandro Ulloa. Vardy was the finisher, while Okazaki fought in the trenches and cleared the way for him. When there`s chemistry between two players, together it`s always more than the sum of the parts.
Jerome fought in the trenches a lot last season, and that is one of the many reasons that we scored so many goals. Oliveira also did a great job creating space for the guys behind him. But bringing in Watkins creates a whole different dimension.
Not only on the pitch, but off it as well.