Patrick Bamford only signed for Norwich just over a month ago. Yet, fans are already questioning why Alex Neil actually signed the forward…
The odd part is, it isn’t to do with his ability. He is clearly a very talented player and must be better than Cameron Jerome, although who isn’t? Bamford has shown at numerous clubs that he has the ability to make it at the top-level and if Chelsea didn’t think he could, why would they keep him on their roster?
However, despite having the footballing prowess, things just haven’t gone well for Bamford over the course of this season. He started the season on loan at Crystal Palace in the Premier League but played just six league matches in six months for The Eagles before terminating his loan at the beginning of January.
His loan spell at Selhurst Park was a rather peculiar one as Alan Pardew reportedly wasn’t impressed with him in training and some fans questioned the attitude of the forward. None of this has been definitively proven however.
Whatever happened at Palace, something clearly wasn’t right. The weird thing is, he hasn’t had a bad reputation at any of his former clubs and seems like a genuinely nice person.
Bamford has been a star at MK Dons, Derby and Middlesbrough in recent seasons and had nothing but glowing recommendations last summer before his move to Palace. Chelsea were eager to loan him out again to gain some Premier League experience and there were hoards of clubs circling him like sharks to try and snap up his signature, one of those clubs being Norwich.
The English forward scored 19 goals for Middlesbrough last season in all competitions and won Championship player of the year for his sublime performances throughout the 2014/15 campaign. Bamford tore the Championship up and was a pivotal part of two Boro wins against Norwich last season.
Yet, after joining Palace he just seemed to be alienated from the group. Connor Wickham was playing ahead of him, despite Wickham himself not being in any kind of goalscoring form. Bamford spent more time playing Call Of Duty than he did playing Premier League football.
So, it made sense for Bamford to call his loan spell short. This meant the next step for him was choosing a club that would give him a reasonable shot at game time so he could gain vital experience. Now, on paper, Norwich looked like a fantastic prospect for him; battling relegation with two strikers who had scored seven goals between them all season. Bamford must have thought he would be guaranteed a bit of playing time.
Bamford didn’t accommodate for the Alex Neil’s love for certain players. Ryan Bennett has already felt the wrath of Neil’s judgement and, so far, so has Bamford. I think it was fair to have Bamford on the bench against Aston Villa. What wasn’t fair was that Neil decided to wait far too late into the match when Norwich were 2-0 down to bring him on, even though it was clear at half-time that a change was needed.
Cameron Jerome started against West Ham and by half time you could tell he needed to come off, Jerome has been poor all season and yet Neil’s love for him prevails. Bamford didn’t come on that game at all.
The worst of the lot was when Norwich faced Leicester this weekend just gone. Jerome missed two clear-cut chances, as he does every match, and yet again it was clear that a change was needed at half time. Norwich had a fantastic chance to capitalise on a poor performance from the league leaders and snatch all three points but Neil waited until Leicester scored a 90th-minute winner to bring the Englishman of the bench, which obviously gave him no time to make an impact.
With Norwich playing his parent club Chelsea last night it meant that another game went by where he was unable to get minutes under his belt. Instead, he was able to look on from behind the dugout as Jerome missed a number of good chances in front of goal, including one that was easier to miss. You have to think that if Bamford was on the pitch he would have been scoring.
Norwich travel away to face Swansea at The Liberty Stadium this weekend in a huge relegation clash. In my opinion, if we get anything other than a win then we are as good as down. This means that if Alex Neil starts with Jerome; we are playing Championship football next season. Bamford has to start.
Jerome being Championship standard isn’t the only reason for him to start. His own attributes speak for themselves. His ability in the air, his movement off the ball and his clinical finishing take him way above any of our strikers in my books.
If Bamford does start and scores, Neil wins. If Bamford starts and doesn’t do well, he wouldn’t have done any worse than Jerome so Neil still wins. He has nothing to lose, so why not?
So, the curious case of Bamford seems to be a dodgy Pardew and a blind Alex Neil. Case closed.