Football: Norwich need some Blues' steel
Norwich City 0 Birmingham City 1
Monday 16 August 1999
Bruce Rioch, who distinguished himself in a successful playing career with Derby County and Scotland, has fashioned a Norwich City side which does much to distance itself from the discipline and determination which earned him 24 caps for his country.
A neat passing game, a hallmark of past Norwich sides, is still in evidence, but is overshadowed by the teams lack of creativity and commitment. It says something about character when - after conceding a goal within the first 11 minutes, at Carrow Road - they were unable to carve open a shot on goal for the entire second half.
On paper, Rioch has the perfect blend. Matt Jackson, Craig Fleming and Iwan Roberts are players who possess enough physical presence to compete at this level and combined with the revered talents of Paul Dalglish, Phil Mulryne and Cedric Anselin they should blossom.
Anselin, who appeared in a Uefa Cup final as an 18-year-old for Bordeaux alongside the likes of Zinedine Zidane, was incandescent but, despite his sublime talent, he is in desperate need of a midfield minder.
Trevor Francis is finally on the way to completing the jigsaw at St Andrew's. Forced out of his previous clubs, Queen's Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday, the former European Cup winner has the Premiership firmly in his sight.
The semi-final defeat against Watford in the play-off last May has long been forgotten and he has added the steely resolve, which is necessary to rise to the top of the First Division.
Stan Lazardis, the maverick midfielder from West Ham, is proving a snip at pounds 750,000 and the central defender David Holdsworth, signed from Sheffield United late last season, returned from suspension to give an accomplished all-round performance.
The strength in depth of Francis's squad was illustrated by the luxury of affording last season's top scorer, Dele Adebola, a place on the substitutes' bench in order to give 18-year-old Andrew Johnson his first full League start.
Francis has been so impressed with the youngster's pre-season form that he decided to hand him a starting place against Exeter City in the midweek Worthington Cup tie - he scored - and already his playing style has been likened to his illustrious manager.
Francis said he should have added to his tally but he will be more relieved about the contribution of the winger Jon McCarthy, who scored the winner after a wonderful solo run early in the game: it was his first goal for 18 months.
Goal: McCarthy (11) 0-1
Norwich City (4-4-2) A Marshall; Sutch, Fuglestad (Diop, 35), Jackson (Mackay, 26) Fleming; De Blasiis, Anselin, Mulryne, Llewellyn (L Marshall, 71); Dalglish, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Coote, Green (gk).
Birmingham City (4-4-2) Poole; Rowett, Grainger, Holdsworth, M Johnson; Lazaridis (Hyde, 71), Hughes, McCarthy, O'Connor; Furlong (Adebola, 62), A Johnson. Substitutes not used: Forinton, Purse, Knight (gk).
Referee: A Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield).
Bookings: Norwich: Diop. Birmingham: McCarthy, Furlong.
Man of the match: Holdsworth.
Latest in Sport
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Compare the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Jose Mourinho to push for Diego Costa to play at Old Trafford
Tim Sherwood: The mavericks have always needed special handling – but Balotelli is not delivering his side of the bargain for Liverpool
Sunderland vs Arsenal: Premier League match preview
- 1 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 2 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...