The King of Spain reinforced what everyone, bar one former manager of Norwich, knew about him during the 2010/2011 season; that he is a very decent footballer. A steadying, if undynamic, influence on the team and one who will do a job for the team regardless of where he is asked to play.
We’ll start with the obvious down sides of Lapps game. Firstly for an eight match run of games he was asked to play at left back. Generally speaking in those eight games he performed adequately – certainly no Drury or Tierney, but giving no less than his best (and against Reading away he was superb) – however, Portsmouth’s David Nugent exposed his lack of pace on more than one occasion in the match that was to prove the final home league defeat of the season. A more savvy left back would have booted Nugent into the stand after the first skinning – but Lapps is too much of a footballer for that (they used to say if an opposition winger got past Tony Spearing once he’d never do it again because he’d try to break his legs the next time – times have changed!).
The other downside is the lack of goals. This might be unfair as he isn’t in the team to get 10/12 goals a season, but two whole seasons in the side without any is pushing it! In 2009/2010 there were one or two near misses or good saves which denied him. Last season his finishing from open play reached near enough joke status – presentable chances were blazed high into (maybe even over) The River End, but at the end of the season it didn’t matter.
As I mentioned at the start of the article Lapps is a steady player – the natural competition for his slot on the left side of the diamond comes from Andrew Surman, who is more a flair player. The two complement each other well, with Lapps being asked to shore things up when Surman had run his course in games towards the end of the season.
Now the good points; his delivery from wide areas is both quality and consistent. Who will forgot the cross at Scunthorpe which arrowed onto Holt’s head? His cross for Holt’s goal in the home game against Palace was the type of cross which gives defenders nightmares. Perhaps we didn’t see quite enough of this incisiveness and that may be why, when at full strength, he is a bench warmer. His left foot may not have the artistry of Surman but it offers a sure reliability that we have come to love him for.
When his appendix went pop we were worried we didn’t have enough cover, but fortunately Lansbury and Surman were able to step up to the plate and our fears were quickly banished. Nevertheless, he received a rousing reception on his return, a testament to his enduring popularity with the crowd.
And so how will the Premier League treat Lappin? Well I can’t see him being a regular on the teamsheet next season but I can’t help feel that he deserves something of a chance to prove himself, and I’m sure this will come his way at some point. He’s got the hunger that Lambert clearly values and, like other members of the squad, he’ll likely get a few games to show what he can do. He gives comfort in his consistency; you know what you’ll get when he steps onto the pitch, and whether that’s against League One cloggers or Premier League pro’s, he’ll give you everything he’s got.
by Philip Wright