Football: Fox is too wily for Hoddle

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The Independent Online
Chelsea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Norwich City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

NORWICH CITY could be forgiven for wanting to play both legs of their forthcoming Uefa Cup tie against Bayern Munich away from home. So accomplished are they on their travels - this was their fourth win in six away matches so far this season - that not even the Olympic Stadium in Munich on Tuesday need hold too many fears for them.

Norwich's passing game might have been designed with Europe expressly in mind. Yesterday's performance, which took them to secondin the Premiership, showed them at their best, and although the margin of victory was narrow, the difference between the two sides was considerable. A goal ahead after 23 minutes, two up on the hour, Norwich could have three or four more against a Chelsea side whose late reply gave the score a somewhat distorted look.

It was the sort of football that Glenn Hoddle, the Chelsea player-manager, would love to have seen played by his own side. They had their moments, most of them Hoddle-inspired, but despite enjoying the majority of the possession they were out-thought and outmanoeuvred when it mattered most.

Norwich's opening goal was a perfect example, Mark Bowen finding space at the byline after a quick exchange of passes with Ian Crook and crossing low for Ruel Fox to slide the ball in from close range.

Fox really came into his own after that. As Chelsea pushed forward he revelled in the space left to him on the right wing, and Norwich's ability to time their passes and runs off the ball began to tell.

Chelsea were trying to build attacks patiently and often looked good around the half- way line. But they needed to be better further forward, and Norwich's sweeper system usually ensured that they were not.

Norwich's second goal owed much to the tackling ability of Jeremy Goss. He skilfully dispossessed Eddie Newton midway inside the Chelsea half, and moved the ball forward to Mark Robins. With the Chelsea defence struggling to recover, Robins might have scored himself, but managed to get the ball through to Chris Sutton for probably the easiest of his six goals so far this season.

With Hoddle's influence on the wane, the last half-hour looked academic, although the substitution of Robert Fleck for Tony Cascarino brought a little more poise to Chelsea's attack. Then, with seven minutes left, they pulled one back when a deep cross from Andy Dow was knocked down by Steve Clarke and Gavin Peacock stooped to head the ball in.

Norwich comfortably rode out the last few minutes to complete a performance which made one realise that English football still has many virtues. As their manager, Mike Walker, said: 'There are good players in the Premier League. It's a question of picking the rightones.' Norwich City would be a good place for Graham Taylor's successor to start looking.

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