The Opposition View: Norwich

09 December 2010 11:42
Canaries fan Steven Taylor gives the low down on his team and their season so far. Carrow Road season ticket holder Steven Taylor answers the questions I put to him ahead of Saturday's match.Are you surprised by how well the season has gone so far and is promotion now the definitive target?Very surprised. During pre-season I was sure that we'd be in for a tough season being heavily involved in a relegation dogfight. I would have taken 21st without a doubt and mid-table mediocrity was highest I allowed myself to hope for. After our start to the season though, it's hard not to be optimistic and hope for a play-off place. It's been an amazing turn-around from struggling in League One to having reasonable hopes of a top six finish in the Championship. Whilst you won't catch Lambert saying promotion is the target, it surely has to be now. That said, if we don't make it very few - if any - will see this season as a failure. Bottom half would of course be disappointing but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Paul Lambert is building a great reputation at Norwich right now. How good a manager is he and are you worried that a bigger club might poach him in the future?I don't think words can describe how good a manager he has been for us. He seems unable to do any wrong. With the financial problems we have, he's had to operate on a tight budget but that hasn't stopped him from building a squad that can compete at this level. He goes into every game with the intention of playing for a win. It doesn't matter who the opposition are or where the game is being played. He says all the right things to the media - never takes the credit instead always praising the players and fans. When we lose, we lose as a team - he never singles out players to the media. His man-management is the best I've seen from a manager and as a result, his players always give him their all - one recent example that always comes to mind is when Wes missed a penalty at QPR, the first thing he did was put a reassuring arm around his shoulders and told him to forget about it. He has such a passion for the game - on the pitch-side he kicks/heads every ball. If something isn't working, he has the tactical nous to change things and turn the game around. We were very dependent on the diamond formation but when it became clear it was no longer the best option, he shook things up. It's all of these things and more that makes him so popular here. He's a far cry from what we've been used to and whilst I have no doubt that he'll move onto bigger and better things, I can only hope that it's not any time soon. Grant Holt is a very important player for the Canaries but misses the game through suspension. How big a blow is that?Love him or hate him, Holt is excellent at what he does. There were fears that he wouldn't be able to make the step-up but, after a slow start - most likely due to an operation he underwent at the end of last season - I think he's proved he's more than able at this level. Goals, assists, strength, intelligence, leadership, commitment. he has everything you want a centre-forward and your captain to have. He's a vital part of our team and it's a massive blow that he's suspended. Who are the other main contributors to Norwich's success this season?- Andrew Crofts has been a revelation in midfield. Having not a clue who he was, a lot of us saw him as an uninspiring signing but from day one, he proved us all wrong. A complete midfielder who has put in his fair share of man of the match performances. Solid defensively, breaks up play well, starts attacking moves, likes to get forward and scores. - Wesley Hoolahan. He's found himself starting on the bench recently but he's been brilliant this season and continues to be so when coming on as a substitute. He is our most creative player and has scored five goals so far this season. As an attacking-minded player, tracking back and doing defensive work were never really his thing but this season he seems to have added that to his game. A real threat - starting or not.What are your team's biggest weaknesses that Pompey can exploit on Saturday?Set pieces. From open play, we're generally solid defensively but win a corner or a free-kick and defensively we lose our heads. The amount of goals we've conceded from set pieces this season is ridiculous. Also we're playing a left midfielder at left-back because both our left backs are currently injured.What do you make of the current Pompey team? Are there any players in our squad that worry you?On paper, you've probably got one of the best teams in the division. Players like Halford, Lawrence, Nugent and Kitson have good experience at this level and could claim to be bottom half Premier League quality, whilst the likes of Mokoena, Brown and Mullins have decent Premier League experience. If it wasn't for off-field problems and lack of squad depth, I have no doubt that you'd be up there with QPR, Cardiff and Swansea. What sort of match are you expecting on Saturday?I expect an open, attacking game. Our confidence should be sky high following back-to-back wins - a comfortable 4-1 win over Town and a great victory ending Derby's run of six successive home wins - and with you coming in off the back of a morale boosting win over high-flying Swansea and with your undoubted quality, it should be an entertaining game.Predict the outcome of the game.It'll be a tough game, even more-so with Holt being suspended. I'm hopeful that we'll continue our unbeaten run though and am predicting 2-2.