Poise, precision and pace - analysing new Town striker Norwood’s stunning 32-goal season
PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:21 11 June 2019
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Andy Warren takes a look at James Norwood’s impressive 2018/19 showreel.
What quickly becomes apparent when you watch Norwood's impressive 2018/19 showreel is that the striker knows his way to goal.
In total Norwood's record read 32 goals in 53 appearances, with his strikes coming across 28 separate games. That shows a player who is always a threat, averaging a goal every 150 minutes of action.
Tranmere used a few different systems last season but, more often than not, Norwood played as the central striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation with a trio of creative players operating behind him.
He's a natural finisher, finding the net with his favoured right foot on 19 occasions, but also being able to convert chances with his left 10 times during the course of the season. The other three came with his head.
Twenty eight of his goals came inside the box (six of which were inside the six-yard box), while three came from outside and one from the penalty spot.
Watching the above compilation of Norwood's goals won't tell you the whole story of his game, but it does give you a very good idea of what he's all about.
Eleven of Norwood's goals last season saw him played in behind the opposition defence before finding the back of the net.
He's certainly not built like a sprinter but is deceptively quick, with goal 15 of his season away at Oxford City (1min 58 secs) a good example of this.
That goal, as well as the one directly following it at Grimsby, shows Norwood turning on the afterburners to glide past his man and keep his cool to score for his side.
Goal 28, at Colchester in April (3.56), is another good example of this as Norwood is played through from the centre circle before neatly chipping the goalkeeper.
Many of these 11 goals come courtesy of a driving midfielder who bursts through before weighting a pass for Norwood. It's exciting to picture Teddy Bishop in this role for the Blues, while Andre Dozzell's ability to thread a pass through the opposition should excite Ipswich's newest striker.
Service brings a smile
What's clear though is, like most forwards, Norwood relies on good service.
His clever runs and good movement helped make the 11 goals mentioned above, but they would not have been possible without knowing the game of his team-mates inside out and vice versa. That doesn't come overnight.
It's not just balls in behind from team-mates that have proven important for Norwood. He can find his way onto balls into the box from wide areas with both feet and head, while also linking up with team-mates with neat one-twos.
But he can't do it alone.
The Blues created the second-fewest chances per game in last season's Championship, which is something that must change to get the most out of Norwood.
Wants the ball
Anyone who watched the League Two play-off final will have seen Norwood screaming at a team-mate to play the ball to him in a good position following a clever run. That's typical of the player he is.
Norwood wants the ball and he wants it at the right time, that's how he's scored so many goals over the past few seasons.
Goal 19 (2.30) at Cheltenham from last season is a good example of this, as he starts an attacking move on halfway, plays it to a team-mate and continues his run towards the box, screaming for the ball before eventually being served up a good chance.
Having a striker who takes charge in the final third will be a real plus for the Blues, who lacked on-pitch leadership last season.
Right place, right time
The art of being a striker is sometimes about simply being in the right place at the right time.
Goal 12, at home to Exeter (1.33) saw him perfectly positioned to follow up after an initial shot came back off the post, before goal 13 saw him bide his time and hang out at the back post to score the equaliser at home to Oxford City in the FA Cup.
He stays alive in the box and reaps the rewards.
He can score the ugly goals, too.
The second goal of his season (0.09) saw him bundle the ball home at Stevenage, while he did the same at home to Port Vale (0.29) as he pounced on the rebound after his initial prod towards goal was saved.
They all count.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Norwood is just how instinctive a finisher he is.
He takes shots first time with no hesitation, willing to have attempts on goal from all angles in a bid to take the opposition defence and goalkeeper by surprise.
Some examples: Goal three against Cheltenham (0.15) sees him come into the picture late to rifle home from outside the box despite team-mates being in the vicinity, goal four at Swindon is a cheeky poke with the outside of his right foot when many would have slashed at it with their left, while the goalkeeper would not have been expecting a first-time shot from a tight angle for goal seven (0.51) against Colchester.
Goal 16, at Grimbsy (2.07) is a beauty. It's another from a through-ball which sees Norwood remain calm and simply poke the ball under the goalkeeper. He utilises the 'toe prod' finish for goal 18 against Morecambe (2.23), while goals 22 and 23 against Stevenage and Port Vale are examples of first-time, left-footed finishes with his left foot when many would take a touch when following up spilled shots.
It's very much a case of placement over power for Norwood, taking his time and guiding the ball past the goalkeeper and into the corner rather than simply lashing towards goal.
He gets his head over the ball, with the vast majority of his goals finding the net on the ground.
In isolation, Norwood's one penalty of the season, at Crawley in May, is nothing to get too excited about.
But the new Ipswich forward has not missed any of the 10 penalties he has taken as a professional during the course of his career.
Key to all of the above is confidence.
Norwood has hit double figures in his last seven seasons, highlighting a player full of confidence in his ability.
A fast start last season, in which he scored twice on the opening day and added five more in his first six games, surely saw confidence swell in what was his first full season in the EFL.
What followed was the greatest season of the 28-year-old's career, in which everything went right and his goal tally snowballed over the course of the campaign.
As well as promotion he took home the League Two golden boot and player-of-the-year award for his efforts.
On accepting the later, Norwood said he would hope to score 20 goals in whatever league he played in.
Ipswich will be hoping he can deliver on that.
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