Premier League: Norwich discovery could see Adam Idah improve Ireland's attacking dynamic

Idah has shown his worth as part of a dynamic partnership with Norwich in recent weeks and John Roycroft thinks that Stephen Kenny might try a similar tactic with the Corkman in Ireland's set-up.
Premier League: Norwich discovery could see Adam Idah improve Ireland's attacking dynamic

Norwich City's Adam Idah (centre) and team-mates celebrate their side's third goal of the game, scored by Watford's Juraj Kucka (not pictured) during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road, Watford. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

THE Premier League is taking a couple of weeks off, which will be a welcome break to the players despite all the postponed Covid games creating a backlog of fixtures.

One side that may have preferred to stay playing was Norwich. The relegation-threatened side had just completed back-to-back victories, much to the delight of their fans. This may not seem like such a notable achievement, but when one considers that they had only won two other league games for the entirety of the season so far, you get the idea why two victories on the trot should garner such delight among the Canaries.

One of the keys to this sudden resurgence in form is Cork's own Adam Idah. The former College Corinthians stalwart put in two memorable performances in these victories. Gaining man-of-the-match recognition, a goal, involvement in two other goals, and (bizarrely) two assists on two own goals in both games, where the pressure he put on the defenders, literally forced them to knock the ball into their own net.

It was an extraordinary couple of games for Idah, who went from unfulfilled young talent to exciting star forward in the space of a week.

Praise on Match of the Day for his first Premier League goal was echoed by Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, on Monday Night Football.

Neville, commenting on Idah forcing two own goals said, that he would "never be comfortable taking on Idah, and his striking partner Teemu Pukki as a defender."

Norwich City’s Adam Idah celebrates an own goal by Everton’s Michael Keane during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, against Everton. A match watched by Irish manager Stephen Kenny Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire.
Norwich City’s Adam Idah celebrates an own goal by Everton’s Michael Keane during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, against Everton. A match watched by Irish manager Stephen Kenny Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire.

Young talent

Regular readers of sports in The Echo will be well aware of the skills of Idah. For years he filled the Cork schoolboy league pages with stories of his goals and skills.

And so it was not surprising that he was quickly picked up by a club cross channel. After a successful run through the Norwich academy and U18 teams, the young lad from Douglas made his senior team debut against Crawley Town in 2019 (at the age of 18) in the EFL and his Premier League debut in 2020 against Crystal Palace, just shy of his 20th birthday.

It was Idah's notable success as a youth player that makes it feel like he's been around for a long time. But many don't realise that he is still only 20 years of age (21 on February 11) and still learning his trade in the big leagues.

His hat-trick on his FA Cup debut against Preston North End in 2020 seemed to herald his arrival to the big stage but Norwich's Premier League relegation and sporadic appearances saw his star dim a bit as he slipped down the pecking order for a starting spot. It seemed that Idah was a victim of his early successes as more was expected of him than should have been of the youngster.

Republic of Ireland's Adam Idah (centre) and Portugal's Kleper Pepe battle for the ball during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Estadio Algarve, Portugal. Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire.
Republic of Ireland's Adam Idah (centre) and Portugal's Kleper Pepe battle for the ball during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Estadio Algarve, Portugal. Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire.

Irish Role

It's been a similar story for his play for Ireland. Success at underage level and Idah's willingness to do any role the manager should call of him has meant, on some occasions, that he has been left fulfilling frustrating and thankless chores, doing the hard work outfield so that others can capitalize on his efforts closer to goal.

He has regularly led the line alone for Stephen Kenny, holding up the ball relieving pressure on defence and allowing the midfield to get into position. He was outstanding away to Portugal and was a one-man show for much of the game, making life miserable for Ruben Dias.

This holding role means that most of his work was done outside the box. Well outside, nearer the halfway line, which made goalscoring difficult and gave the impression of failure for a forward when you see a duck egg next to his name for goals scored. This is no doubt frustrating for the young man, especially while teammates like Callum Robinson hoover up the plaudits for their goals.

Norwich City manager Dean Smith speaks with Adam Idah during a training session at the Lotus Training Centre, Norwich. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire.
Norwich City manager Dean Smith speaks with Adam Idah during a training session at the Lotus Training Centre, Norwich. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire.

Partnership

It's a similar story at Norwich. New boss Dean Smith has used Idah sparingly, which was understandable when you see to the young striker's scoring record.

But that's the problem for Idah. Managers don't seem to know how to use him. Smith admitted so himself before the recent run of success, “Ourselves and Adam are still finding out what type of player he is.” 

But now, by plan or by accident, they seemed to have stumbled upon an exciting new role for Idah at Norwich.

Pairing Idah with Pukki has greatly benefitted the Irish striker, and I dare say Pukki too. It's got Idah more involved, allowing him more touches and passes, it has got him into the box and allows him to put the pressure on defences face-on rather than with his back to goal, halfway out the field.

It seems to have liberated Pukki too. With Idah attracting attention higher up the field it allows space for the Finn to fill and receive the ball back from the Corkman.

 Ireland manager Stephen Kenny (left) and Adam Idah at training back in September. Picture:  Niall Carson/PA Wire.
 Ireland manager Stephen Kenny (left) and Adam Idah at training back in September. Picture:  Niall Carson/PA Wire.

As part of a front two pairing maybe Idah can also fulfil his Irish promise. Putting Idah in a close partnership upfront might also be the key to turning around Irish fortunes. The good news is that Kenny was at Carrow Road the week before last at the Everton game and saw the Idah revelation with his own eyes.

Idah was one of the few bright lights for Kenny when things were bad for the Irish manager, sacrificing glory to do a thankless holding job for his manager and country. Maybe Kenny can repay the favour now and let the Douglas man have a more dynamic role on the shoulder of an attacking partner.

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