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Fan Focus: Canaries Conversation With Gary Gowers

We caught up with the editor of Norwich City website Gary Gowers, to discuss matters ahead of this weekend's crucial "Friendly Cup" match at the Stadium of Light.

Matthew Lewis

Norwich started December with a hammering at Liverpool, before picking up a handy win at West Brom and a solid point against Swansea. Does this form encapsulate your season as a whole so far?

Gary Gowers: Yep, in a nutshell. Traumatic would be another way of putting it and if you need a cliche for good measure, 'roller-coaster' would be another. In fairness, an element of peace has broken out around the place in the last fortnight but prior to that we lurched from crisis to crisis with Hughton coming under fire from all angles. The problems have been many-fold but stem from the basic requirement of winning football matches - we haven't won enough of them. Also, the style - while ludicrously gung-ho under Paul Lambert - has been perceived in many quarters as being rather too cautious and tentative, especially on our travels.

That win at The Hawthorns aside, is it fair to say to the Canaries have struggled away from home this season?

GG: You could say that! Aside from victory at The Hawthorns, and an equally surprising win at the Britannia, we've been fairly rotten when outside the city walls and have lurched between seven goal thumpings and equally abject odd goal defeats. As mentioned above, this has been very much at the root of the calls for 'Hughton out' and only when the supporters feel we're consistently 'giving it a go' on the road will they be pacified. Whether the West Brom victory was merely a blip or us turning a corner, only time will tell... starting on Saturday!

Like Sunderland, Norwich seem to have struggled for goals, averaging just under one per game. Given that money was spent on Van Wolfswinkel and Hooper in the summer, is this down to them flopping, injuries, a lack of creativity or tactical failings?

GG: Yes, yes, yes and yes. All of those things... Ricky vW - the one who came with the most bells and whistles - has, by his own admission found the intensity of the Premier League difficult to live with, but just when there were signs of him adapting he injured his toe! Similarly with Gary Hooper, who managed to get a nasty knock in the final game of pre-season and then proceeded to take a couple of months to catch up. With regard to the latter, now that he's fully fit the goals have started to flow and he's now banged in four in our last six games. Ricky is - for the first time in a couple of months - available on Saturday so we're hopeful he'll be ready and raring to go.

I mentioned tactics there with Chris Hughton in mind. He's had some stick from the Norwich support. Is it justified? What's your view of him and his approach?

GG: He's taken brickbats aplenty over the last couple of months but has handled them with the grace and courtesy of a gentleman - which he is. In fairness, some of it was deserved and he's not helped himself on occasions when the side has been set up not to lose (which it invariably did) rather than to win. Also some baffling substitutions have done little to help his cause. But... of late there have been signs of a change in approach, even some flexibility, and as a result things have improved. He's a good guy, certainly a good coach and - while I may be in a minority - is a decent fit for Norwich as long as understands the supporters' desire for attacking football.

Speaking of managers, any thoughts on Gus Poyet and the way he is slowly but surely turning things around on Wearside?

GG: A top bloke (unless you're speaking to a Brighton fan!). While he retains the Di Canio trait of being a little excitable in the technical area, he's certainly a step up in terms of man-management skills and approach. His teams invariably play decent football and the early signs are he'll turn it around for you. Whether a Capital One Cup two-legged semi-final will be a distraction or not, time will tell - but hopefully your recovery will be temporarily halted at the weekend...

Poyet's philosophy is built very much around the team playing in tandem with plenty of passing and movement but are there any individuals in his team that you fear?

GG: Loads. In fact, based on our record in the North-East, every opponent has the potential to be a match-winner. I wrote in my column earlier today that City don't really 'do' the North-East - such has been our dismal record in your part of the world - and we always head there in hope rather than expectation. If I had to pick one who regularly impresses against us it'd have to be Seb Larsson - especially with his delivery from set-pieces - but we also have history with Borini dating back to his Swansea days.

Similarly, is there anyone in the Norwich squad we should be worried about?

GG: Depends which City side turns up. If it's the tepid, uninspired one that often makes the reluctant trip outside the city walls you may as well all turn up with your cigars and carpet slippers (including the players). If, on the other hand, it's the one we've seen battle for points over the last fortnight you may be well advised to keep an eye on that Hooper bloke. Actually, forget that, he's rubbish... couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo ;-)

Do you think either or both of us will be relegated?

GG: Hopefully not; not sure I could survive without the prospect of competing for the 'Friendly Cup'. All of this talk of the FA Cup, Capital One Cup and Champions League pales into insignificance once this two-legged monster comes into view. I'd like to think that Hughton will steer us to middle-table mediocrity and Gus will doing a touchline jig of delight as you win on the final day and send the Villa down at your expense. *clutches straws*

Finally, a prediction please?

GG: Heart says 0-1 City; head says 1-1

Cheers to Gary for bringing a bit of humour as well insight to this week's Fan Focus. For more wit and musings, follow him on Twitter @LGRGary and take a look at his work over at

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