The rangy Steve Morison coolly slotted home only his second of the season for Norwich yesterday in a 3:3 Halloween thriller against Blackburn at Carrow Road. However, for the guy who was playing non-league football just a few years back, his strike represents a long overdue reward for his sterling work.
Steve Morison has put in some fantastic displays this year, but he’s just not getting the goals. Too much time in front of a goal has maybe accounted for a few misses but if the lofty lad can get some confidence and cheek to top off his undoubted work, he could well be the man to keep City up. Morison’s flick up and half volley for City’s first yesterday was a peach and his celebration showed just how much it meant.
Morison can look ‘all arms and legs’ at times, but he’s surprisingly subtle in his ball control. Bearing down on defenders the ball can just stick to his boots like glu. Morison is excellent in the air too, and with some deft little nods that often seek out a fellow yellow shirt, most Norwich fans would choose this cut-price centre forward over the well-fed Yakubu who, sweet touch and goal today aside, looks like he’s been recently upholstered to a state reminiscent of his nickname.
A boon to Wales international Morison at the moment is the even bigger man at Carrow Road. Grant Holt. Accustomed to coming on late in the second half, Holt is turning into an effective weapon for City with two in his last two appearances. In baseball terms Holt would be pitching as ‘the closer’ his mission to finish teams off in the last few innings. With a guy like Holt, nostrils steaming up on the touchlines, it’s no wonder that Morison is slowly getting his act together.
Paul Lambert’s rag-tag bunch of outsiders are doing more than holding their own in the top flight. With precious little top-flight experience in the current squad and with a pay structure that in footballing terms borders on minimum wage, Norwich City are showing what can be done with hungry-for-it players and a manager hell-bent on winning every game. At 3:1 down against a comparatively glitzy Blackburn with players like Yakubu, Robinson and Pederson on wages that would bust Norwich’s piggy bank, Lambert opted to play with three strikers, plus Hoolahan who had spent much of the game up front. Three all, job done. So, exciting are Lambert’s reshuffles, he does sometimes appear to be an active member of the eleven. The guy just will not give up and neither will his team.
Norwich are getting punished, as seen in Blackburn’s third that caught the defence napping, and the first half at Anfield that could have represented a bloodbath, but the Canaries are proving resilient. A draw was probably the right result with Blackburn taking the lead three times through Hollett. Yakubu and Samba. But Morison, an own goal, and a dubious 94th minute penalty rescued a point for City who had a clearer shout for a spot kick turned down earlier in the second half.
With a guy like Holt, nostrils steaming up on the touchlines, it’s no wonder that Morison is slowly getting his act together.
With a winning mentality that for many off these players is well into a third season, Norwich City may well be one of the best arguments for yo-yo-ing. As clubs like Aston Villa see the empty seats spreading around their grounds like a rash, as they do just enough to cling onto their top-flight berths, clubs like Norwich are positively buzzing with a bigger ground capacity promised if they can keep up. West Brom, possibly the veterans of yo-yoing are getting more firmly rooted in the Premier League, and Newcastle look much healthier for a swift visit downstairs to clean out all the rotten teeth. Southampton look like they could be heading back too, in a much smilier state.
Yo-yoing also humbles fans a little and gives them a little tough love. Taste the rainwater for a few years and tapwater tastes like Möet. Because let’s face it, midtable teams can, and are, slowly deteriorating. Newcastle fans’ biggest problems in previous seasons, were themselves and their god-given right to some kind of success. But with a little pop down and up, St James’ seems a lot more rational.
Most Norwich fans will be hoping that yo-yo-ing isn’t on the horizon just yet, but should the Yellows get relegated, many won’t be that crestfallen. Most will probably expect their team to rise again, and if they can keep the nucleus of this team together, they must be in with a reasonable shout. However, if players like Steve Morison can push on, they could just stick around for a seasons yet; which for the City faithful will feel like glory.
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