The Irish Gareth Bale

The tears of losing Bradley Johnson have turned to smiles as his replacement Robbie Brady continues to shine for Norwich. Jon Rogers talks about pirates and celebrates Norwich’s best player of the season so far

Back in the summer transfer window, when memories of a very special day in May were flickering through my mind on repeat (which, by the way, was Taylor Swift slutdropping 20 foot away from my face, not Wembley) – we had grown men, quite rightly, declaring their love for Bradley Johnson.  

Not just the horrifically blokey “Fuckin love you man” – love. Actual, gentlemanly “I am sorry – but I think I would have to” love.

Man love.

He was a hat and a parrot away from being a pirate. All loose hair, thick tats and that much-loved, swashbuckling way of jumping high and hard into other players on the back post. Other Championship defences didn’t like Mr J doing that.

My word, we did.

The sad issue was he was like an old faithful pet dog who has started to limp and shit himself in the night. It was just a matter of time after promotion. We all knew he wasn’t ever going to be ready for Crufts, we just loved him and accepted him for what he was.

A really, REALLY good Championship player.

We were love-blinded by his Barry Butler pose, his Wembley pose, his who-put-the-ball-in-the-Ipswich-Town-net pose. Alex Neil, on the other hand, had already posed a question to himself: is Robbie Brady better? 

The answer was, and is, quite clearly, yes.

Mr Brady was our number one target. We made him one of those ‘you’re in the first team’ type of offers I guess, which made it hard to turn down. Neil put all his eggs in one basket and it paid off.

When rumours started, the first thing we did was search Hull forums, and they were gutted. Always a great sign. Some knew little about him, myself included. I watched a few of Hull’s games, but he never shone or stood out. The cat-and-mouse transfer fee ended at £7m, we think. David McNally’s love of the word undisclosed makes it tricky to work out, but on the sliding scale of Premier League transfer fees, it’s up there with bargains of the year.

His work ethic is incredible, he’s got a passion and desire when trying to win the ball and his overall technical skills are exemplary. He’s aggressive. He should be scoring more, granted, but shuffling between left-back, left-wing, left-wingback and right-wingback – makes it harder to adapt and get into a goalscoring positions.

Interestingly, the one attribute that cropped up from Hull supporters was his excellent set-pieces, and I rejoiced at the thought of balls being whipped. Then I focused on the ability of Brady’s delivery again, and all was good.

Oddly, out of all the praise Brady has, his free-kicks have been the one thing that has let him down his season. It’s the same when he plays for Ireland. He’s hit more walls than a teenager with anger issues. But everything else, my goodness. 

(whisper) He could and should be playing for a bigger team. (whisper)

There was one memorable occasion that summed up what a player we have. during the Arsenal game. It was 1-1; 80th minute and we were pushing for the winner. Wegner makes a change, brings on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. 82nd minute, Brady’s cross is cut out and pings to the Ox and, BANG. He is off with the ball. Brady, after exerting himself for the past 80 minutes, sticks his head down, sprints 70 yards, matches the Ox, gets in front of him and puts a block in, while being dumped face-first into the turf. And he looked like he could do it again. Brilliant.

I hope he has a really, really shit Euros…

And these words will be deleted by the summer…

And all forums from now on declare how poop he is…

And we travel underneath the Eddie Howe wank-busæ so no one registers what a player we have.

Because the world isn’t ready for the Irish Gareth Bale just yet. And we’re not ready to lose him.

You can follow Jon Rogers on Twitter at @BigGrantHolt

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