When David Fox signed we were told he was a good passer who would bring a new look to the passing game, with balls being spread out from the base of Lambert’s preferred diamond formation. A few fans may have seen bits of him during his time at Colchester, however for the most part the fans had to take Lambert at his word which, at that stage, didn’t quite carry the reverence that it does today. Therefore when he was brushed aside by an impressive Watford side in the first game the majority called for the more dynamic Crofts to take his position. These calls were answered and Fox drifted into the background while others stole the show during Norwich’s impressive start to the season.
It didn’t take long though for Fox to start making inroads into the first team as he started to find a new home on the right side of the diamond. It was during these moments that his wonderful ability to pick out someone with unerring accuracy over any distance started to become apparent. As his fitness improved so did the amount of each game that he saw until towards the end of the season he reclaimed the spot he’d failed to fill right at the start of the season.
Whether it was picking out overlapping full backs or putting in dangerous free kicks Fox quietly became an integral part of the squad as the team got closer to the business end of the season. It was entirely fitting therefore that Norwich were promoted on the back of a stunning deep cross to Simeon Jackson, the other player who really lit up the last few games.
It was the ball of the season, and a tribute to the transformation in the player. From benchwarmer to matchwinner. The goal against Pompey was as much Fox’s as it was Jackson’s, such was the quality of the ball. I was among many who, when it left his foot, saw it as nothing more than an overhit pass or a wayward shot. Simeon wasn’t even on my radar. Then, in a flash, we all began to see what Fox had 5 seconds earlier. The ball was perfect; just far enough to beat the defender, but not too far for Jackson to reach. Just close enough for the goal for the keeper to begin to come out, but just far enough out for him to rethink and find himself caught, confused. Down went Jackson, and up went Norwich.
It wasn’t the first time Fox had seen something the rest of the crowd didn’t Against Preston at home, the ball came to him deep inside his own half and in a flash, a long pass was hit up field. To everyone, it looked like it was going nowhere. A clogging clearance. But in the deep was Grant Holt, picking up the pass and surging down the wing. The best midfielders know the ball they’re going to play before they play it. Aware, always looking, when the ball hits their foot they know who its going to end up with. This is David Fox.
Once again Lambert had taken a lower league player in who he saw promise and brought the best out of them to the point where “next season’s Charlie Adam” is a phrase I’ve heard numerous times since promotion was confirmed. So next season, will he take the league by storm in the same way as Adam? Who knows, but after the progress he has made Fox looks set to be an integral part of the forthcoming Premiership campaign. A player who sums up everything that Lambert looks for in one of his players: the right attitude, the right temperament and absolutely no shortage of ability.
by Robert Broke