Avid Norwich City fan Ed Vargeson has kindly taken the time to give us Eagles fans a little insight into what we can expect of our new loan signing...
My first thought on hearing Chris Martin was leaving the club on loan was that it was probably the right decision – we’re talking about a player who has only featured four times this season and is yet to score a goal. Clearly he’s a player that needs a run of games and the chance to re-build his confidence (more about that later). And you know something’s not quite right when Aaron Wilbraham is above you in the pecking order. So what are Palace getting until January 2nd?
Well, it’s fair to say Martin polarises our fans. He burst onto the scene as a 19 year-old with a string of assured performances, and it wasn’t long before rumours of a transfer to Manchester United started circulating. Despite this, he fell out spectacularly with Glenn ‘rat in a suit’ Roeder the following year, and was farmed out to Luton Town on a season-long loan. This was to become a valuable learning curve as he played regular football for the first time and finished their top scorer.
There’s strong evidence that when he has been given his chance – and I’m mainly thinking about the League One title-winning season – he’s proved what a good player he is. He weighed in with 17 league goals and his all-round play that campaign was exceptional. Many of his best qualities came to the fore (strength, quick feet and clever movement) and he played a key role in getting Norwich back to the Championship.
The strange thing about him, and maybe this has been his downfall this season, is that he doesn’t appear to have an obvious strength. He’s not particularly quick or tall, and I think this is why it’s easy to be critical of him at times. He’s never really ‘Plan A’ or ‘Plan B’. He needs the right people around him, in the form of Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan, and he’s struggled when paired with Simeon Jackson. What may slightly concern Palace fans is that for a player repeatedly described by Paul Lambert as “the best finisher in the club”, he only scored four times in the Championship last season. Although to be fair, he was in and out of the team, and playing in a deeper role.
But perhaps it’s his attitude that has clouded people’s perception of him as much as anything. He has been banned from the meagre total of 68 pubs and clubs in the Norfolk area, and has been in court on an assault charge. It was allegedly his poor attitude that led to Roeder bombing him out, although the word is that he came back much more mature. On the plus side, self-confidence isn’t an issue, and he doesn’t shy away from assuming responsibility with set pieces and delivering instructions. He never gets bullied, and that’s a vital trait to possess in the second tier.
There’s no doubt Palace could have a very fruitful couple of months ahead. If given a run of games, and playing alongside a target-man, he should do well at Championship level. It’s in everybody’s interests for this move to work out, and our hope is that he comes back giving Lambert serious food for thought. Simeon Jackson kicked-in last season to see us over the line, and if Martin can do the same in terms of scoring goals to ensure Premiership survival, we’ll be very happy. And from a Palace point of view, if he does enough to leave you in a similar position going into the New Year, you’ll have no complaints. £5m should be enough to secure his services on a permanent basis...