In theory, everything is set up for Chris Martin to be a Norwich City legend. Not only is he a local lad with a prodigious talent who has risen through the ‘system’, he has the same name as the lead singer from a band whose most famous song is ‘Yellow’. Fate’s often cruel masters couldn’t have dealt him a better hand, if we’re honest.
In practice, however, it often appears that being cast in the mould of legend-hood has weighed heavily on Super Chrissy’s shoulders. After crashing onto the first team scene in a spectacular fashion, things soon went downhill. Martin allegedly became notorious on the Beccles pub scene (and not in a good way), then followed the well-publicised falling out with Glenn Roeder – was he Tweedledum or Tweedledee – and the loan move to Luton which probably ultimately did him some good.
Back in the warm, spongy comfort of the Norwich City bosom, he excelled in League One and was responsible for one of the season’s defining moments: the winner against Leeds. Some of his link-up play with Hoolahan was exquisite, showing that his ‘footballing brain’ was up there with the best at the Club. No one was concerned last August that he wasn’t cut out for Championship football, after all he most certainly has the talent to score goals at this level, but events on and off the pitch have meant that despite promotion, this season won’t go down as one of Martin’s finest.
At the start of the season Martin looked sharp, alert, and he was definitely a bigger threat than Grant Holt. Holt’s slow start to the campaign didn’t help Martin, as their partnership which had been so destructive in 2009/10 seemed to falter. At times communication appeared to have broken down, with both men stood on opposite sides of the pitch, usually glaring at each other. Martin’s bad luck in front of goal despite his good all-round play spawned a lack of confidence and a bout of fractious, bad-tempered behaviour.
Chris Martin’s main fault lies not in deficiencies in talent but in his attitude. This can range from absolute outrage that one of his colleagues has attempted a shot rather than passing to him, to the disappointing subplot casting a shadow over Martin’s season: the court case. Private lives are private lives but it would be churlish to assume that the arrest and trial for assault did not have an effect on Chris Martin’s season. His actions on the pitch fluctuated between someone desperate to impress and make amends (trying too hard) and a snarling, angry young man always spoiling for a fight.
Coincidentally, the season was over for Chris Martin at around the same time as his legal proceedings, a hamstring injury causing him to miss a hefty chunk of the season with a grand total of just 4 league goals from 21 appearances to his name. Perhaps this enforced time out gave him chance to clear his head and reassess – he certainly looked to be enjoying celebrating promotion with his young family after the Coventry match, but then who wouldn’t?
Next season will be massive for Super Chris. Simeon Jackson’s sudden and unexpected transformation into Michael Owen c.1998 at the end of this year won’t have helped him – he will have to work his bottom off in pre-season to be back in the first team picture. Who Lambert chooses to sign will also have a huge bearing on how much Martin features over the course of the season, presuming the set-up will be Holt plus A.N. Other. However, I have faith that a fit, confident and happy Chris Martin is more than good enough to cut it in the Premier League. He just needs to hit the ground running, and perhaps have the odd night in. Maybe once that happens, we might even see a smile.
By Zoë Morgan (@zvfm2)