Long-time reader, first-time contributor Andrew Kent is on the words today, refusing to climb off the fence, but taking a statistical look at which promotion winning team was the bestest.
Debate has raged on social media since ACN had Grant Holt on the podcast. The thorny subject? Who would win in a game between all the promoted sides (03-4, 10-11 & 14-15) and Herr Farke’s current side.
I am sitting firmly on my fence, as it’s easy to make a case for all 3 promoted sides and can see why, with the squad we currently have, people are waxing lyrical.
I decided to look at the 3 promoted teams and how their stats compare. This is purely a numbers exercise, I’m not using it to back-up any argument over who would beat who….
Defensively, this team was as solid as (insert your own metaphor here). Only conceding 39 goals in 46 games, while keeping 18 clean sheets. Reminiscing about that back 4, who had a future England goalkeeper behind them, it’s not hard to see why Norwich were so strong in that area. A centre back pairing that wouldn’t have let air get past them and 2 full backs that would die before letting their winger get by, made for a special recipe.
However, it wasn’t just the defence that was strong; they had a certain 3-lunged midfielder running miles in front of them, stopping opposition attacks and setting City in motion for our own forays.
In attack, we all know about a that blonde-tipped winger, who tore up everyone in his path. Huckerby was top-scorer with 14 goals in a team that scored a total of 79. Behind him came Leon McKenzie (9), Iwan (8), Damien Francis & Matt Svensson (7).
16 players contributed goals in the season, with a number scoring 3 or 4. The second half of the season stands out in my mind, when we were able to call on Leon, Swedey Sven and Iwan in rotation, with Hucks and ‘WLY’ Paul McVeigh supplying them. (Special mention to Neale Barry for his solitary assist which cost me the sweep on Club Cabbage, as I had 0-0.)
You don’t need to look at the numbers, to know that this side weren’t as solid at the back as the class of 03-04. I distinctly remember being amazed that we secured promotion at Fratton Park, with a 1-0 win where we never looked like conceding.
Over the course of the season 58 goals were plundered past John Ruddy and Declan Rudd (for 1 game with 1 conceded), with Big John keeping 11 clean sheets. 2010-11 saw only 2 defenders make more than 30 league appearances.
The Norfolk Cafu played every league game and Elliot Ward made 39 appearances. The rest of the duties where shared between Whitbread, Barnett, Tierney, Drury and to a lesser extent Micky Nelson, Steven Smith, Jens Berthel Askou and, for 3 substitute appearances Rob Edwards. To compare, Flem (46), Malky (45), Drury (42), Edworthy (42). With Greeno playing 46 as well, it’s not hard to see why 03-04 were more consistent than 10-11.
At the business end of the pitch, we had a diamond midfield and 2 up top, which saw the 10-11 squad score 4 more than the class of 04, nabbing 83. A future wrestler top-scored with 21, followed by Simeon Jackson (13), Wes (10) and Croft-Dog (8). The total number of goals were spread across 17 players.
This side was unrelenting in its attacking intent; with The King of Spain, Surman, Crofts, Wes and Henri Lansbury constantly around the opposition’s box, leaving Xavi Fox to orchestrate and fire-fight when attacks broke down.
Unlike the previous 2, this season was very much a season of 2 halves.
The management change led to an improvement in the stability of the team’s defending. Once Alex Neil arrived and had returned Seb Bassong in to the centre of defence, alongside the Norfolk Cafu, we became much more solid.
In Neil’s 22 league games in charge, we conceded just 18 goals (you could argue it was 21 games and 17 goals because of Bournemouth away). With 48 goals coming against us, it’s safe to say Neil was better than Neyul at organising the defence. In the first half of the season the stability wasn’t 03-04 esque, as Jos Hooiveld, Carlos Cuellar, Michael Turner and Ryan Bennett all played at centre back. With that said, 6 of the 13 clean sheets came during Neyul’s short reign. It’s just evident that when they conceded 1, City tended to ship 2 or 3.
Again, the goals scored column went up, compared to their predecessors, with 44 goals of the 84 scored came under Alex Neil. The season’s total was spread across just 13 players. OH Cameron Jeroooooooome finished with 20, Super Bradley Johnson scored 14 goals and 1 thunderbastard against the Scum, Lewis Grabban and Gary Hooper both bagged 12 each. Having Howson, Dorrans and “He’ll go low to find” Redmond to create and sometime finish attacks, it’s evident that the options were there for Neil to be attacking, safe in the knowledge that his solid back line would keep it tight.
My last bit of stattage looks at the Home and Away records of all 3 sides. 03-04 winning 18 of their 23 home games and 10/23 away. 10-11 won 13 at Carrow Road and 10 on the road. 14/15 were victorious 12 times at FCR and 13 times everywhere else.
So, who would win if they played each other? Well, that’s open to debate as it has been since it was started by Holty and the ACN boys on the podcast. But if you’re asking me, then I am getting back on my fence…
If anyone is wondering why I am not looking at the current squad, it is 2-fold. Firstly, they’ve not played a full season, but secondly and more importantly, they’ve not completed the job. Once they do, I will happily look at how they stack up. But for now, lets enjoy the end of the season and roar the boys to the Premier League.