Date: 12th July 2011 at 9:19am
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With Pompey recently completing the signing of David ‘Chuck’ Norris from Ipswich we have got a ‘fans-eye-view’ from a Tractor Boy.

The ed on Vital Ipswich, Darren C, has kindly answered a few questions for us in an attempt to give us a better insight into Chuck.

Without further ado this is what was asked and what was said…

Were you disappointed that Chuck left Ipswich?
Opinion of David Norris is rather split among the supporters; you’ll find those that are devastated to have lost one of our most influential midfielders, but there are also those who argue he was a self-centred individual with no genuine quality. Personally, I’m more in the camp that was disappointed to see him go.

I’d actually long had my doubts about Norris – we paid £2 million to get him in from Plymouth in January 2008 and, truthfully, I didn’t feel we were getting any real return on that investment for the first two seasons. However, I think the turning point came when we played Coventry City on the first day of the 2009/10 season. Norris played an absolute blinder but suffered an injury just after half time, and with him ruled out for the first few months of the campaign, it took us until late October to get our first win of the season. I know I wasn’t the only one to wonder whether things might have been different with him around…

2010/11 saw Norris take it to a new level though. He started the season in stunning form with some pretty commanding performances in midfield and ended up being our leading goalscorer in all competitions. That’s why I find it a real shame that we lost him now, just as he was hitting his best for us – and to add insult to injury, we didn’t make a penny of our £2 million back either.

As your captain I was very surprised that he was allowed to leave. Any idea why he was not tied down to a new contract?
Well one could ask the same thing about Gareth McAuley or Brian Murphy. We had something of a bizarre contract crisis at Ipswich this summer where up to 21 players were set to be out-of-contract by the end of the campaign, including first team stars like Norris. How a club can end up in that mess is beyond me, but plenty would point the figure of blame at Roy Keane; he made no real effort to solve the problem earlier in the season and ultimately left Paul Jewell to pick up the pieces in his wake.

In Chuck’s case, Jewell did offer him a new deal, but he rejected it. David then took the unusual step of telling the media (click here) that negotiations had stalled because he wanted a three year deal and the club was only prepared to offer him two years. Whether something as simple as that was truly the centre of disagreement between the two parties, I don’t know. I somehow doubt Norris was really all that fussed about committing himself to Town for so long though; his agent was reportedly doing plenty to stir things up behind the scenes and Steve Cotterill seemed pretty convinced at the time that he could persuade David to come to Fratton Park, so it sounds to me like this move had been on the cards for a while.

What are the strongest areas and qualities of his game?
Norris is the sort of combative midfielder you need in the Championship. He’s a proper hard worker and at times last season he was the driving force in our midfield, challenging for possession in the centre and getting us rolling forward again.

It seems he’s also got an eye for goal too, although it took us a while to discover it – he’d only scored 5 times in his first three seasons at the club, but he then netted 4 in 4 matches last August before going on to record a final tally of 11 in all competitions, making him our leading scorer for the campaign. Seeing how much he was prepared to get forward, he could probably have had more than that as well.

And the things that he is not so good at, or what let him down?
Chuck might be a workhorse, but at 5ft 7, he’s not exactly the biggest or strongest physical presence you could get in midfield. In his earlier days at Town, I was distinctly unimpressed by how frequently and easily he was robbed of the ball, though thankfully he has improved somewhat as time has gone on.

Perhaps the biggest question about Norris is whether he truly has the quality to star in a top side. He’s a consistent and reliable performer in the Championship, but I don’t know if he is technically good enough at this stage to perform beyond that level – he’s never played above the second tier of English football.

If you were to hazard a guess, not that I suspect you really care that much, what would it be that you think made him want to join Pompey?
With respect, I’m surprised Norris joined Portsmouth of all clubs, given that a number of Premier League sides were thought to have been interested in him as well. But, as I’ve said, I think this move was on the cards for quite some time before this summer. Perhaps Chuck is happiest in the Championship and feels he’ll get regular football at Fratton Park. Perhaps he still has family and friends on the south coast after his many years at Plymouth. Or perhaps your lot offered him the fattest contract. Who knows!

So, all in all have we made a good or bad signing here with Chuck?
Oh, a good signing, no doubt. It’s not as if we didn’t want to keep him, and based on the displays he put in for us this last campaign, you should have a pretty reliable performer there. I reckon he and Liam Lawrence would probably fit quite well together. Admittedly I’ve said that I’m not sure whether he is actually good enough to step up to the top flight, but given that your focus right now will simply be on getting there, he could certainly do a job for you.

Whilst we are talking what do you think would be the right hopes, or expectations, for both Ipswich and Pompey this season?
Truthfully I reckon both sides could take people by surprise this year. Neither of us had a great season last time around but we both had our moments and arguably underachieved for much of the campaign.

I’d say a playoff place is not unimaginable for either in 2011/12, though both will face a stiff challenge to step up after last year, especially given some of the competition in the division now. As much as it may be bias talking, I think you’ve probably got more work to do than we have before the season starts. David Nugent is quite a significant loss given his goals last season, and I think the big test will be whether Luke Varney can rattle in the goals at the rate you need, or indeed whether you bring in anybody else in the meantime.

Thanks to Darren C.

I suspect that our paths will cross again during the course of the season, a season that I wish Ipswich well in, although not too well mind!


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