By Scott Castle (Huddersfield Town fan).
Five months ago Oliver Norwood was one of the most highly rated players in The Championship. He signed for Huddersfield Town from Manchester United in the summer and was arguably the in-form player in the second tier. Scoring two and assisting three from a deep lying midfielder role, Norwood was a pivotal part of a team which sat second in the league after seven games.
It wasn’t a surprise to the coaching staff at Huddersfield that Norwood had made such an impressive start. Glyn Snodin, assistant manager in September after Norwood’s brilliant display against Blackpool in front of the Sky TV cameras, said “He had a tremendous schooling at Manchester United, and Paul Scholes gave him a great shout. When one of the best players in Britain was saying those things about him we knew we were onto a player”.
Last season Town fans had presumed United legend Scholes was in attendance at Glanford Park to scout top goalscorer Jordan Rhodes, but he was in fact there to give an assessment of Norwood who was on loan at Scunthorpe United. The moment of real quality in that game came when Norwood struck from 25 yards. Scholes will have been impressed with what he saw, and his reference led to Norwood signing for Huddersfield in the summer.
Everything has been very positive so far, and it would be fair to expect this article to carry on in the same vein given the start the United academy graduate made to his tenure in West Yorkshire. However, since that performance against Blackpool the only real achievement of note for Norwood was grabbing Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt on his 100th appearance for Portugal against Northern Ireland in October.
Huddersfield’s form dipped magnificently between November and February. They won one league game in 16 before this week’s win against Burnley, sacking manager Simon Grayson at the end of January. Mark Robins has since been appointed manager and his first league game in charge saw Norwood start in a 6-1 hammering by Nottingham Forest. The two games since have seen Town improved to pick up four points, but Norwood has played no part in either.
Earlier in the season Norwood had been the playmaker in midfield, supported by Adam Clayton and Keith Southern who did most of the leg work. When things were going well Norwood looked like a world-beater, but since things took a turn for the worse he’s struggled to make any real impact on matches. Town currently need fighters. Robins seems to be selecting players who give no less than 100%, and unfortunately Norwood doesn’t fit that description.
On current form Huddersfield aren’t maintaining possession as they did earlier in the season, and as such work-rate off the ball is more important than ability on it, to a certain extent. Adam Clayton has stepped up as a more advanced playmaker while Neill Danns, Scott Arfield, Oscar Gobern and a soon to return Keith Southern all offer more in terms of work-rate and defensive abilities. There doesn’t seem to be a place for Norwood in the starting 11 at the minute.
There’s no doubting the ability he has, he was brilliant earlier in the season and was highly rated by both Scunthorpe and Coventry, but he’ll have to show more fight if he wants to be part of Mark Robins plans at Huddersfield. Some Town fans have given up hope on Oliver Norwood, while most just hope he can rediscover his form before his career in West Yorkshire ends without ever really getting started.
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Scott is a member of the DATM.info forum, he also writes at HTAFC Blogspace and you can follow him on twitter HERE.
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