Looking Forward


Norwich City  (Home)

Premier League

Sunday 12th September 2004

With Malky Mackay joining the great defender trek to Upton Park, Norwich have started the clear out of players who have helped them regain their perch in the Premiership, but might not be able to add bounce to their side in the future.

More players have arrived to bolster the squad as manager Nigel Worthington attempts to keep the Canaries in the top flight.  A bright young manager, Worthington has got the City side playing attacking football, in the style of previous Norwich sides.  They will need to quickly develop a way of stopping them at the other end and making the most of their attacking chances to get the results that will keep them buoyant.

Although he did not get as far as the bench in the last week, England squad keeper Robert Green has shown that he is highly regarded and a prospect for the future.  Strong, big and a good reflex keeper, Green will learn a lot this season and be better off for it.  Turning down a move to Arsenal could be the best thing he could have done, as he would not have seen as much action as he will with Norwich and this will keep him in the public eye and also sharpen his skills.  Promising Scots keeper Paul Gallagher is the back-up goalie and he will be mainly shadowing Green this campaign.

The defence of Adam Drury, Craig Fleming, Jim Brennan, Simon Charlton, Marc Edworthy and Gary Doherty are mostly players who have good experience although they may not be from the top drawer of defenders in the Premier League.  Drury made his name at Peterborough and was snapped up by Norwich, who have given him the chance to play at a higher level.  An attacking full back, he has a good left foot and can hit a fierce free-kick.  Marc Edworthy has had spells with Palace and Coventry, but finally settling at Norwich, he was first choice until Doherty's arrival.  The Ginger Pele has the ability to play up front or at the back and personally, I think he is a better defender than a forward, where his touch is not up to it.  A whole-hearted player, he was unlucky to be picked out by Spurs fans as a target when he rarely did a lot wrong.
Craig Fleming is an enigma to me.  He had no pace when Norwich were in the Premier League last time and now seven years on, he's back !!  A stalwart defender, who has a knack of being in the right place through his shrewd reading of the game, he might struggle now that Spurs have a few pace merchants in the side.  Bringing in the equally experienced Simon Charlton from Bolton Wanderers was a good move, but he was failing to find a regular place in the side at the Reebok and he might be grateful for a chance to start with Norwich, although he might make the defence a little one paced.  Former Nottingham Forest right back Jim Brennan has suffered with injuries to keep the Canadian out of the team, but he is a marauding full back who can put in a tough tackle when required.

The midfield area boasts the talents of former Man U and Northern Ireland player Philip Mulryne.  A good passer of the ball, Mulryne can also link up with the attack to score from penetrative runs from deep.  With quite a few strikers, Norwich have to play some deep to fluff up the midfield, but they are then all capable of getting into the box to cause trouble.  New signing from Coventry, Youssef Safri is a player with a good eye for an opening and creating chances will be as valuable as taking them for the Division One champions.  Scot Gary Holt is a hard tackling ball winner and he can sit in the middle to protect the back four.  Formerly with Hearts, he has scored the odd goal, but his presence allows others to play.
One such player brought in to add some class to the midfield is Thomas Helveg.  The Dane has great experience in Italy and for his national side, but has taken the plunge with City to taste the Premiership.  A dynamic player, who Spurs did look at a while back, he can play in defence or midfield, but prefers the advanced role to allow him to provide opportunities to the front men.  His ally in this respect is Damien Francis, who was brought in from Wimbledon and has a good engine to run into advanced positions from midfield.  A good athlete, Francis can make a big difference to the Canaries performance, adding height and power to the other talents they have.

With the number of attackers in the side, former Spur Paul McVeigh and Matthias Svensson have played just behind the front two.  Both having played up front, know exactly what their colleagues need in terms of supply, but also have the striking nous to join in when they can.  Both players will try and prove they are top quality and they will be looking to put David Bentley and Darren Huckerby in on goal.

Gooner Bentley turned down Tottenham to join the dark side and has made a rapid rise into the England Under-21 set-up.  Fast, good on the ball and possessing an eye for goal means he will be a dangerous opponent, but he is slight and may need to fill out a bit to make a top class forward.  His pairing with Huckerby means that they will be quick on the break.  Still putting them away after all these years, Huckerby is a quality player, but like some other Norwich stars, he might find that being back in the Premier League will be tough against defenders of the calibre of King and Naybet.  His pace can trouble defenders and he has a lethal finish, so the white shirted back four will be trying to keep him outside his shooting range.

With another Posh recruit - Leon McKenzie; another Spurs were linked with - there is variety on the bench, although his strength is his pace and he can race away when given the passes to run onto.  

Spurs might have to make a change with Sean Davis being out for the first time this season, so the depth there will be tested if a couple of others are doubtful, but there should be enough quality to stem the enthusiasm of the visiting Norwich City team.  With Defoe on a hot streak and with Ledley and Naybet tight at the back, this is the chance for Tottenham to show how string a unit they have become.  Traditionally, teams like Norwich have come to White Hart Lane and done well, but perhaps Jacques will have them on the ball to keep Norwich at arm's length.

I think that the Spurs team will pull together to get a result somewhere in the range of ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    Norwich City  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


No Norwich City website came forward to take part.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jamie Slabber (shoulder); Dean Richards (ears); Edson Silva (neck); Sean Davis (knee); Michael Brown (knee - doubtful); Michael Carrick (knee - doubtful); Philip Ifil (ankle); Dean Marney (Achilles); Rob Burch (ankle)



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Tottenham Hotspur   0    Norwich City   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 12th September 2004 Kick Off :  16.05 p.m.
Crowd :  36,095 Referee :  H. Webb (South Yorkshire)
Weather :  Warm, breezy
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :  



Atouba (Jackson 83)
Redknapp (c)
Brown (Davies 66)

Kanoute (Keane 72)

Unused subs: 

Norwich City : 



Safri (McVeigh 76) 

Bentley (Helveg 90)

Doherty (McKenzie 70)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur Norwich City
Scorers : -  

Tottenham Hotspur


Norwich City 


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  


Redknapp (foul) 85
Mendes (foul) 90


Norwich City


Charlton (foul) 51
Safri (foul) 70


Match Report : -  

The performance of the two current England goalkeepers who are not David James were under the spotlight in this match and both came through with flying colours as they kept clean sheets at either end.

Although they both had fine games, it was a perfectly timed interception that had the all fans talking when they left the ground.  As Tottenham dominated the early part of the match, they failed to capitalise on their openings, but Norwich got back into the game to such an extent that they were closest to winning the match.  With about fifteen minutes left, Darren Huckerby got away ion the right hand channel and as Robinson raced from his line, the ball was delicately lobbed over him.  As he latched onto it, with the goal invitingly in front of him, Ledley King appeared from nowhere to get his foot to the ball and see it off for a corner.  It was one of those moments that you will remember for a long time and it says something that it was a defensive tackle rather than a great goal or save.

With the rest of the game swinging from end to end, the chances came thick and fast, but for Spurs it always looked like being one of those days.  The yellow shirted Norwich fans reminded us of the sort of banana skin that teams like theirs often provide for us.  It wasn't helped when it was announced that Sean Davis, one of the influential men in our midfield, was out injured with a knee problem.  Only Spurs could get one of the players NOT away on international duty injured !!  However, we didn't have to worry, as Pedro Mendes had a fine game, tidying up loose balls in midfield and being in the place where they dropped when cleared by the Canaries defence.

Spurs started at a high tempo and pushed forward onto the Norwich goal.  Without bringing Green into action, Edman swung in a free-kick and Francis got in the way as Defoe hit the ball goalwards.  The diminutive England forward was electric and got the ball about 35 yards out in the 17th minute.  He turned Damien Francis (who the News of the World said would show us what we were missing for not signing him when he was a Wimbledon player), then as two closed him down, he let fly with a shot that bumped past Green, who was left helpless as the ball rebounded out to the edge of the area off the upright.

That was close, but Fredi should really have put Tottenham ahead when Defoe squared a great ball for him to score from a couple of yards out, but he seemed to slow as he approached the ball and Drury got back in the way to deny him the opportunity.  Fredi seems to be lacking in confidence after not scoring for so long, but he doesn't help himself when he isn't playing at the top of his form that he shrugs off the defensive work that his colleague Defoe puts in.

A shout went up for a penalty in the 23rd minute, as Defoe was wrestled to the ground in the box.  Safri hacked the ball up in the air and a City header directed it back across the area, where Jermain jumped to his feet and he hit a volley that fair knocked Safri off his feet in stopping it going in on the line.  

A weak header from former Spur Gary Doherty produced a dive from Robinson, but the first dangerous effort from the visitors arrived two minutes from the break, when Gooner Bentley hit a shot well over, after Doherty chested the ball into his path.  The "Ginger Pele" got a good reception and there has been much debate about whether he should or not, but he tried hard when selected and did nothing to upset Spurs supporters, except not be good enough for some of them.

Spurs almost broke the deadlock on 34 minutes, when Atouba tried a Defoe like turn in the area and the ball went up in the air.  Redknapp headed it on and as he closed in on the ball, Jermain came in and although Jamie got his foot to the ball, he might have left it for Defoe.  The end result was it dribbling past the post with Green in no-man's land.

Fredi was on the end of a long pass from Mendes in the 42nd minute and his control took the ball a little further away from him to the left as he bore down on the Park Lane goal,  Unfortunately, he got his shot away, but it flashed across the Norwich goal and wide.  That was it for the half that Tottenham had dominated without Norwich getting much of a sniff in the Spurs half.  Over-hit passes to Huckerby left them without an outlet and thus Spurs kept pressing forward with Edman and Atouba working well together on the left.

In the second half, things turned out differently.

Spurs continued to pass the ball, but the effect was not the same.  Too many close moves around the edge of the area broke down and the white shirted players failed to hold onto the ball for long enough.  As the passes out of Norwich's back four began to find their targets, Huckerby was finding some success in taking the initiative by running at the Spurs defence.  Luckily Ledley was in top form and one lunge from Mendes might have toppled the Norwich striker, but King's intervention saw him off.  When he got one-on-one with Naybet, the Moroccan's lack of pace was exposed and Pamarot sometimes got caught upfield, so could not help his defensive colleague out.

Thimothee Atouba was looking good and put in Defoe as we approached the hour mark, but the shot was straight at Green, who had a comfortable tip over the top.  It produced another corner, which went straight into Green's hands and the pressure that Tottenham did build up was often wasted by plopping the ball straight to the keeper from the corners we forced.

To try and counter the threat of Huckerby on the right side of the Spurs team, Santini took off the unlucky Brown, who got through a huge amount of work, bringing on Davies on his comeback from injury.  Simon was soon in the action in an attacking sense on the right wing, where his cross found Atouba waiting at the far post and his swinging volley was very well saved at the foot of his post by Robert Green.  Robinson showed that he could save his team too, as Huckerby cut in from the left and as he was poised to shoot, Paul rushed out to smother his effort with his legs.

Indeed, it was one of Robbo's big clearances that nearly set up a goal for Tottenham.  Atouba headed it on and Robbie Keane was on it in a flash and hit a shot that on first view he ought to have done better with.  On watching it on the Jumbotron, he had to take it quickly and had little option other than to fire it straight at the keeper, who pushed it away.

Simon Davies hit Green when put through by Defoe and with just two minutes left, Defoe ran onto a long ball into the left side of the penalty area and hit a shot that flashed once more across Green and wide of the far post.  It was an opportunist effort and one that on another day might have gone in, but Norwich were just about worth their draw for the energy they put into their second half performance.  When a late short corner was worked to Huckerby and his rising shot was left by Robinson to clear the bar, it was all over.

Many fans came expecting Tottenham to win, but the main thing to come out of this game was that they need to convert their chances.  If they don't they won't win ... and against some of the better sides, they will lose.






With a reduced side out and some of them suffering from their international exertions, Spurs pressed hard, but could not breach the Norwich defence, having to settle for a goal-less draw in the end.

The game was never going to be quite as simple as the statistics indicated.  Spurs unbeaten and Norwich without a win saw most predict a win for Tottenham, having home advantage.  However, as it was, both sides preserved their respective records and move onto their next match.  For Nigel Worthington, who I had respected as a manager until today, to come out and say Spurs are a good team, but Arsenal are on another planet, is a bit rich.  While Spurs did not have the rub of the green, they were also unable to beat the jolly green giant in the Canaries goal.  And they also failed to avoid the green shirted defenders who often got in the way.

There is a grain of truth in the barbed remarks about Tottenham's lack of artfulness in getting through defences, but the number of chances created against Norwich were enough to win the game and probably more than Spurs made against Birmingham City.

Defoe cannot be derided for lack of effort in trying to score, but often he is so blinkered that he does not see better options available.  One shot straight at Green that he pushed over had Redknapp in acres of space to his right.  He is not lone in this though, as Robbie takes too long on the ball sometimes, instead of releasing an early pass.

With our midfield not cut out for creativity on a grand scale, things might change with the return of Davies and when Davis and Carrick come into their own.  The killer pass is not quite murderous enough at the moment and sharpening that skill should be one of the main training ground routines in the next couple of weeks.  Mendes showed his value to the side as the main man yesterday.  Sitting in, he picked up the ball that drops in midfield in a way that we have longed for.  It has been a long time since Graham Roberts made every loose ball his and although Mendes does it in a different way, it is just as effective.  Once he has possession, a short pass to someone in space or a long ball to a forward making a good run is the outcome.  Both Defoe and Kanoute were recipients of his astute vision.

Reaction to the news that Sean Davis was out of this match seemed to sway the Spurs fans to thinking that we could be suffering in midfield once more.  With Brown and Carrick needing treatment on knee injuries too, the old curse is back to haunt us.  But Redknapp showed he is capable of getting the ball down and trying to play, but the game passed him by in the early stages.  Dropping deep, he is somewhat out of the game and lacks the pace to cover when possession is turned over.  And his tackling is almost always going to earn a yellow card, as he goes in hard, but often with his studs uppermost.  This is not malicious, but looks it to refs.

The defence rarely looked troubled, until Michael Brown was removed and Huckerby decided to try his luck by running directly at the Spurs back four.  Naybet particularly found it difficult to cope with and was twisted inside out on a couple of occasions, although Pamarot and King helped him out.  Edman does not take kindly to anyone trying to take him on and after a couple of foppish dives by Bentley, the Swede just crossed his body in front of the running striker, loaned from Arsenal, leaving him in a crumpled heap.  It is not pretty to watch, but you get the impression that we do have some players who are willing not to be messed about with.  Pamarot is a big lad too.  His thighs make him a difficult opponent, as it is a long way to get around them !!  

Atouba was quiet and this may have been a result of travelling to Africa for a couple of World Cup games after having his injury, but he tries some outrageous skills and won a lot in the air from long balls forward.  Not something that you could level at Fredi, who wasn't in Africa this week, but hasn't been the same since he went at the start of this year.  Sluggish and lacking the spark that set him up as a fan's favourite on his arrival from West Ham, he needs to show some determination, as his Waddle-like lethargic look is not going down well and sets him apart in Santini and Jol's new regime.

The game was one of two halves really.  Defoe's powerful low drive in the first half rocketed back off the post with Green beaten for once.  Kanoute was thwarted as he shaped to score (and should have), Redknapp nudged a shot just wide when Defoe was coming onto it from a better angle and Fredi let the ball get a little too far away from him, meaning his shot just wide of the far post was taken on the stretch.

The second half saw Spurs continue in the flat manner that had affected them after the early goal did not go in.  Gary Doherty battled manfully against Ledley King and even got a free-kick given against him for pulling the Spurs defender's shirt.  He  must have wondered why that never happened when he was in the Tottenham back four !!  Doc got a good reception and although he did not make himself a legend in his time at the Lane, he tried hard and for that alone, you cannot fault him.

Only a couple of very smart saves from Green  - from a shot that Keane took quickly and Atouba's low far post volley (taken with his right foot [please note Sir Bobby] - and a deflected free-kick from Defoe that went over kept Tottenham out in the second half.

But it was Huckerby that really (and nearly) stole the show.  His 75th minute run in from the right wing caught Robinson sprinting out from goal and taking the ball over him, the former Manchester City man must have hoped to score.  But he reckoned without a fast covering run from King and a late challenge that deprived him of his moment of glory.  There are few things that defenders do that catch the eye, but Ledley's interception really made the crowd gasp.  Comparisons with Bobby Moore were made and if he can continue in that vein, he could make himself a regular in the England side.

Sven looked on.  Robinson and Green showed that perhaps the goalkeeping positions are in safe hands, while Defoe produced a lively performance.  The team look more compact and with the shuffling still going on enforced by injuries, the depth of the buys made by Arnesen and Santini in the summer make it easier to replace like with like.  And most fans, even though frustrated with the single point, do like what they are seeing.

Purcell Cole



Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 0 Chelsea 0 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 2 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Fulham 0 Arsenal 3 Saturday
Liverpool 3 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Everton 1 Saturday
Middlesbrough 2 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 3 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 3 Crystal Palace 1 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 0 SCBC 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 5 5 0 0 19 5 15 +14
2 Chelsea 5 4 1 0 6 1 13 +5
3 Bolton Wanderers 5 3 1 1 9 6 10 +3
4 Middlesbrough 5 3 1 1 11 9 10 +2
5 Everton 5 3 1 1 7 6 10 +1
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 2 3 0 4 2 9 +2
7 Aston Villa 5 2 2 1 7 6 8 +1
8 Liverpool 4 2 1 1 6 3 7 +3
9 Portsmouth 4 2 1 1 9 7 7 +2
10 Charlton Athletic 5 2 1 2 6 9 7 -3
11 Manchester United 5 1 3 1 5 5 6 0
12 Newcastle United 5 1 2 2 9 9 5 0
13 Manchester City 5 1 1 3 6 5 4 +1
14 Birmingham City 5 1 1 3 3 5 4 -2
15 SCBC 5 1 1 3 5 8 4 -3
16 Fulham 5 1 1 3 6 10 4 -4
17 Norwich City 5 0 3 2 5 9 3 -4
18 West Bromwich Albion 5 0 3 2 4 8 3 -4
19 Blackburn Rovers 5 0 2 3 4 11 2 -7
20 Crystal Palace 5 0 1 4 4 11 1 -7

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