Tag Archives: Norwich City

Leyton Orient star Elliot Omozusi nominated for PFA award

Leyton Orient’s Elliot Omozusi has been nominated for the PFA Player in the Community award for the second year running – Spoughts’ Joe Gleave caught up with defender this week.

Born and bred in Hackney, Elliot Omozusi hails from from London Fields where his family still live, and the 26-year-old feels that it was a good place to grow up.

Elliot Omozusi Credit: Leyton Orient FC

“It was a good environment to be fair, there was a close community in London Fields. My mum and dad and all my family are from Hackney so it was good being around them.”

His football education began on Hackney Marshes too, where he played Sunday league before joining Fulham at the age of 12. He played 8 games in the Premier League, including one against Manchester United.

“Obviously that was my dream to play at the top level and it was a good experience especially with me being so young at the time. It made all the hard work worth it and I really enjoyed it.”

In 2011 Omozusi’s career took downturn, when he was jailed for intimidating a witness in a murder case. He was released by the O’s but when he came out of prison a year later the club gave him a second chance, a reprieve he is thankful for, especially as he is close to home.

“It was more than I ever could have asked for and I’m very grateful to be here” he said. “One of the reasons I chose Orient was because my mum was ill and passed away, so I wanted to be around my dad and sister.”

Elliot Omozusi narrowly lost out in last year’s PFA Community Player Awards, which acknowledges the contributions of footballers to the community, but he is delighted to be in the running again.

“I would be over the moon if I won, but we don’t do it for the recognition, even though that’s nice too. There’s a lot of footballers up and down the leagues that are doing good work in the community so it’s great to be around the top of that list.”

Recently, he has been helping, Dominic, a young man from Leyton who like Omozusi, has served time. “We meet up twice a month to go out and chat and I’m on call 24/7 if he needs me. He’s really coming through the other side and he’s worked so hard which is really rewarding.”

Elliot Omozusi License: Creative Commons

On the pitch, Omozusi is quietly confident that the O’s can avoid relegation. “We’ve got a lot of hard work to do but I’m quietly confident that we can get little run together and get ourselves out of trouble. We’ve definitely got enough ability and strength to do so.”

Huddersfield Town Must Do Everything Possible to Secure Signature of on-Loan Norwich City Man James Vaughan

Huddersfield Town training at Storthes Hall - new signing James Vaughan.

When James Vaughan signed on a season-long loan deal for Huddersfield Town back in August, few people realised just how important he would become to Town’s season. Question marks over his long-term fitness and his modest goalscoring record (17 goals in 93 league appearances before joining Town) meant some fans were skeptical as to how much of a contribution he could make this season. However, a relative absence of injuries and a goalscoring average of better than 1 in 3 at the time of writing have left few Town fans in any doubt that Vaughan is a player of real quality and that every effort must be made to try and secure his permanent signing.

Vaughan is Town’s leading scorer this season with 9 goals but Vaughan should not be judged on his goalscoring record alone. Despite the fact he is only on loan, he has displayed genuine passion, determination and character – attributes which have endeared him to the Town faithful during his brief spell at the club so far. Heavy defeats, such as the thrashings Town received against Leicester and Nottingham Forest, clearly hit Vaughan hard and it is refreshing to see a loan player show such genuine commitment to the cause. Vaughan’s phenomenal work rate and determination are valuable assets to the team in terms of both chance creation and defending from the front. If anything it could be said that Vaughan works too hard. At times he arguably pushes himself too far and this has occasionally resulted in injuries and needless bookings – 11 bookings in 29 games is staggering for a centre-forward. Nevertheless, as Vaughan’s game is based around robust hard work, shirking challenges or holding back in any way to avoid bookings or injuries would take away a large part of what makes Vaughan such an effective player.

To demonstrate just how important Vaughan has been to Town this season, it is worth looking at Town’s win ratio with and without Vaughan in the league this season. This season, Vaughan has started 23 games. In these games Town have accumulated 34 points – 9 wins, 7 draws and 7 defeats. This means Town have gained 1.48 points for each game Vaughan has started. To put this into context, if this points to game ratio was maintained over a season then it would give Town 68 points. In contrast, in the 15 games Vaughan has not started, Town have picked up just 13 points – 3 wins, 4 draws and 8 defeats. This is a points to game ratio of just 0.87 points per game and this would give Town only 40 points over the course of a season. Obviously it is not as simple as this – even if Vaughan had started every game this year it is highly unlikely Town would have acquired 68 points – but it does go some way towards proving just how vital Vaughan has been to Town’s season.

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As Vaughan has clearly proved himself in terms of ability, and as his injury record has been generally good, Huddersfield should be doing everything in their power to try and secure a permanent deal for Vaughan. But can a deal realistically be done? The first thing that has to be considered is whether Norwich would be willing to sell. With Norwich’s Premier League survival all but guaranteed, it seems that Vaughan will find himself surplus to requirements at Carrow Road next season. As well as already having Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson on the books, Norwich have brought in Luciano Becchio and Kei Kamara since Vaughan joined Town in August. With the impending arrival of Dutch international Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Vaughan appears to be well down the pecking order in a team that often plays with just one out and out striker. In this regard it seems that Norwich will probably be willing to listen to offers if a reasonable bid comes in.

The second thing, therefore, that must be contemplated is whether Huddersfield can afford to sign Vaughan. Vaughan would likely command a fee in the region of 1 to 1.5 million pounds, which is a significant fee for a lower end Championship side. However, the sale of Jordan Rhodes last summer means that Town should be able to spend some money (within reason) in the transfer market this summer. Though Chairman Dean Hoyle has spoken of the need to make Town self-sufficient and to further reduce the club’s wage bill, the fact is Town simply cannot afford to pass up on the chance to sign Vaughan. When the loan deals of Vaughan, Theo Robinson and Jermaine Beckford expire in the summer, Town could have only one striker – the untested Jimmy Spencer – on their books. Alan Lee’s contract almost certainly won’t be renewed whilst Lee Novak’s future at the club is seemingly undecided. Given the need to bolster Town’s attacking options, therefore, and the potential availability of Vaughan, Town would be mad to pass up the opportunity to sign Vaughan permanently if he was available at a reasonable price.

The only problem that leaves is whether Vaughan himself would be interested in signing permanently. Vaughan is not the type of player who will just be happy to sit on the bench or fester in the reserves at Norwich, and in the aftermath of the Leeds game Vaughan admitted he would be happy to discuss terms if a fee could be agreed. Vaughan would likely become one of the clubs highest earners if he were to join but given the fact that a number of the existing high-earners, such as Alan Lee, are out of contract in the summer, Town should be able to offer Vaughan a decent contract and still have money left over to bring in some more reinforcements. However, although Vaughan is clearly enjoying his loan spell at the club immensely, it remains to be seen whether Vaughan would be prepared to take what would probably be a sizable wage cut in exchange for regular first team football. Also, as Vaughan has proved himself a highly capable Championship striker whilst playing for a struggling team, there is a chance that Town could be gazumped to his signing if a bigger club comes in with an offer over the summer. For periods this season Vaughan has simply looked too good for a Huddersfield team that has, at times, struggled to adapt to the demands of the Championship and at points he has almost single handedly carried the responsibility of scoring Town’s goals this season. With this in mind it would be hard to begrudge Vaughan if he decided to take up the opportunity to play for a team with greater aspirations and more financial clout if the offer was forthcoming.

Nevertheless if Huddersfield do maintain Championship status, they must do everything in their power to attempt to bring Vaughan in permanently. Though Vaughan would not be cheap, he has proved himself a player of real quality and few players have made as much of an impact during a loan spell for Town as Vaughan has. The emphasis must be on quality rather than quantity this summer and Town would be much better off signing a player of Vaughan’s caliber than signing 2 or 3 ‘squad players.’ Some of the money from the Jordan Rhodes sale must be used over the summer if Town are to be at all competitive next season and if a deal could be done for £1-1.5 million then that would surely be money well spent by Town. If Town are to have any realistic chance of making Vaughan’s loan move permanent, then staying in the Championship is vital. Town’s Championship status next season is far from certain and any chances of signing Vaughan hinge on survival. Vaughan would not want to sign for a team in League One, nor would a League One side be able to afford his transfer fee or wages. A deal for Vaughan, therefore, is by no means guaranteed and it would be foolish to think that Vaughan will certainly sign for Town – even if Championship status is secured – but the powers that be must do everything they can to try and sign him. If a team comes in with a better offer or if Norwich are unwilling to do business then that is fair enough. However, it would be criminal if Town made no attempt to permanently sign a player with such high workrate, determination, passion and, most of all, quality.

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Ambition? Why Howson leaving has caused so much ire…

When people in the future look back at the departure of Jonny Howson from Elland Road, hindsight may get the better of them. Should Jonny not succeed in the Premier League, hampered by his injury, little will be said. Should Leeds United manage to get promoted from The Championship, Howson’s departure may become little more than a footnote in the annals of Leeds United, overwhelmed by the end result. However, as I feel, this day will be looked upon in the future as a genuine low point at Leeds United, on par with Woodgate’s departure that symbolised the end of the ‘living the dream’.

For a man who inspired such extreme opinions, Howson’s transfer to Norwich has inspired an incredible outpouring of grief. Social networks were ablaze with anti-Bates sentiment when initial news of the transfer came out of the club, and on Saturday, a size-able protest aimed at Bates gathered before the Ipswich match and continued to voice itself throughout the match. One of the moments which symbolised the extent of the fan’s ire was the seconds that followed McCormack’s equalizer. As is natural, following a turnaround to lead 2-1, those in the Kop celebrated, but immediately followed this by chanting “Bates out” once again.

Protests existed at the beginning of the season, but tailed off. Why did Howson’s sale symbolise such a momentous shift in the mindset of Leeds fans? In the view of this writer, Jonny Howson, Leeds United club captain, is simply the symbol of much of the success that has occurred at that club in the last five years. Not only this, but Howson had great potential to be the player that Leeds built the next few years of the club around.

Carlisle, Jonny Howson scored the two goals that sent Leeds to Wembley under Gary McAllister. Manchester United, the day that is still sung about around the goal, Howson played the impeccable, incredibly under-rated long pass that led to Beckford’s match winning goal. Bristol Rovers, Howson scores the equalizing goal that led to the win Leeds required to gain promotion from League One. Last season, Howson scored ten goals from midfield to supplement the strikers in what was ultimately a failed joust at the play-offs.

This aspect of last season truly revealed how great a player Howson could ultimately become. Simon Grayson, making him vice-captain and ultimately captain of the club, clearly saw Howson as the first name in any match day squad. In naming sides, he sacrificed prolific strikers in order to play one up front, with Howson slipping in behind Becchio. It is here that Howson revealed the force Leeds fans hoped he would become, showing himself to be a potentially great trequartista, playing as an advanced playmaker. As part of a front four of himself, Becchio, Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass, Howson brought the other three men into play, caused havoc on the opposition back-line and looked simply unstoppable when running at a center back. Played in what had become his ‘natural’ position, given his forced adaptation into a central midfielder after a youth career playing as a striker, Howson looked a player worthy of building a team around.

Whilst he played incredibly infrequently in this role this season, on the few occasions he did he looked just as devastating. Against Nottingham Forest, for example, only the second time he appeared there, with Becchio ahead of him for the first time, Howson ran the game, even scoring a spectacular volley from the edge of the area against one of the league’s top goalkeepers. Injured in the next match, Leeds fans hoped for the best when he returned. A bright future seemed ahead, with a team built around this trequartista.

Yet Howson will now ply his trade at Norwich City. His potential is such, and especially considering that he came through the academy, that I feel this is a momentous event. Howson, upon recovery from his injury, could prove to be the most astute signing of Lambert’s yet. Genuinely a player to build a team around, Howson could easily prove to be a Premier League standard modern attacking midfielder. His potential, given the improvement over the last year alone, is almost limitless, and you can easily understand why Leeds fans are so unhappy at his departure.