Alan Irvine’s decision to give James Maddison the final ten minutes of the win at Preston was just the shot in the arm that the City faithful needed.
There have been plenty of calls to give youth a chance, a few of which have come from Vital Norwich, now that the season is effectively over. Having nothing to play for in April has shocked us all a little and it’s an unusual feeling, in that there’s generally been something to play for in the last decade, certainly the last eight years.
With nothing to play for though, we find ourselves in a little trough that I for one, don’t like. I guess that the description of it being a ‘roller coaster ride’ is apt.
It’s only in the last ten days though that the play-offs have become mathematically impossible and now is the perfect time to give youth a chance.
We have some very good young players on our books and the three that look the most promising to me are, Maddison, Ben Godfrey and Louis Thompson.
I’ve seen them all play this season and were it not for his serious injury, I have no doubt that Thompson would’ve been a regular feature in our midfield. To my mind, he is the perfect replacement for Alex Tettey as age begins to catch up with the Norwegian enforcer.
Thompson is a physical player with a decent range of passing, that bodes well for next season.
The other two, Godfrey and Maddison have both made the bench this season on several occasions and with Seb Bassong not even in the squad these days, Irvine chose Godfrey for the bench as defensive back up on Saturday.
It’s worth pointing out that Godfrey is 19 and that Maddison is 20 years old, they are not kids anymore. Young they may be but they are at an age when they need to play to develop.
Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe is only 18 and he’s tearing up Ligue 1 and the Champions League at the moment. Another example of ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.’
I mention Mbappe but he is clearly something special and I’m not suggesting Godfrey or Maddison are at his level yet, although one day, they might be.
Maddison seized his chance on Saturday with both hands and scored in his late cameo after a nice run and cool finish.
It was the right game at the right time to give him a go. Whether Irvine feels that Brighton at home, with the Seagulls chasing the title, is the right game is another matter entirely.
Irvine spoke about Maddison after the game and said he had sat down and spoken with the lad about the future. He told him that his talent, awareness and technical ability weren’t in question but he needs to do more when we don’t have the ball.
That’s fair enough and something that Alex Neil cited when talking about Alex Pritchard earlier in the season. It’s worth remembering that Pritchard hadn’t played regular league football since his Brentford loan finished, over a year earlier.
Pritchard is now up to speed and we are seeing that talent on the pitch. If I was the next Head Coach of Norwich I would be looking to build a team around him. For all the genius of Wes Hoolahan, old Father Time gets us all in the end and next season is likely to be his last at Carrow Road. He will be rested more and more and that’s when the heir apparents, Pritchard and Maddison will come into the frame.
Having made such an impression on Saturday, I expect to see Maddison given more game time before the season is over. He’ll probably make the bench for the next three games and certainly for QPR, he could get quite a few more minutes.
It’s the right time to see what he can do.