Entertaining or not, Premier League survival still remains the be all and end all with the promised riches on offerTue 12 Feb 13 by Robin Sainty
I think that anyone that witnessed Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham knew that it was far from a classic. And despite Robert Snodgrass’ best efforts the elusive goal just would not come. Some were calling this a must-win game before hand.
I wouldn’t quite put it like that, because Norwich are not in a position that they have to win games just yet. Yes, a win would be nice and would ease those relegation fears. Of course, it was an opportunity missed, and the Canaries will want to end this winless run before long.
After such a frustrating game, it is always difficult to find positives, but it’s important to remember that both Grant Holt and Anthony Pilkington were unavailable for selection. And defensive consistency is important.
It wasn’t so long ago that the Canaries were on a run of consecutive losses, that run has now been ended by three draws. The fact that only one goal has been conceded in this run is certainly an encouraging statistic. However, that is balanced off with only scoring one goal in those three games.
However, I think Norwich are starting to get back to where they were that allowed for that 10-match unbeaten run. Let’s remember that the Canaries haven’t really played free-flowing football at all this season. Therefore, it’s perhaps unrealistic to expect for them to start now.
What the team has been is hard to beat and break down with the ability to grab the odd goal. But with the odd goal drying up of late, it makes the situation look a lot worse than it really is. Fans will certainly feel that Premier League football tickets are expensive. Therefore, they should expect something more in the entertainment stakes.
And I can certainly understand this view; it’s one of those age-old debates on if this sport is really a form of entertainment. Unlike other forms of entertainment, it’s a debatable point if we actually go with the intention of being entertained. In fact, it’s, probably, more based on a sense of belonging and loyalty to our team.
Nevertheless, we all like to see exciting football and that makes us feel that we have received value for money. But sometimes entertainment has to be put on one side for the end result that is much more important. This is certainly the case at Norwich at the moment, because Premier League survival is the only thing that matters.
Chris Hughton’s methods are not going to please all fans, but he has been involved with football for long enough to know exactly what he is doing. I think when he came in during the summer he thought that he had to make the team hard to beat.
Paul Lambert liked a style that was open, and that worked for the club last season. However, eventually teams that concede too many goals run into trouble. I think we would all agree that Sebastien Bassong has made a tremendous difference in that key defensive area.
Hughton is wise enough to know that this is Premier League football and some things remain beyond your control. He knows that there will be times that his side is beaten, and there will be games when his team is completely outplayed. However, he also knows that it’s possible to get surprise results when the team is set-up in the right manner.
This has certainly been seen at Carrow Road this season with those superb wins against Arsenal and Manchester United. And they could have well added Tottenham Hotspur to that list had it not been for a bit of magic from Gareth Bale.
Moving forward the squad now has a bit of a break until another match at Carrow Road against Everton. The break could be just what the team needs to remind themselves on the things they need to do to win a Premier League game.
Everton are one of those sides that are having a decent season and you may think that a point would be a good result. But the thing about top-flight football is that we never quite know what is going to happen. No one was expecting Norwich to turn over Arsenal when they did so earlier in the season, so there is nothing to suggest that the Canaries can’t secure all three points.
They are still doing a lot of good things and the January signings may just provide that added spark to get the team back to winning ways. It would be nice to be entertained between now and the end of the season and I would hope we do see some thrilling games.
However, this season was always going to be a tough campaign with the thoughts on being our second year in the Premier League. There is certainly the school of thought that if you can survive two years in English top-flight, then there is the real opportunity to become an established outfit.
I believe in what Hughton is doing and remain convinced that his methods will work. I also think that if they do, then Norwich can afford to be a more expansive side next season. The money available in this league means that you can’t afford to drop out once in, if that means playing a bit of defensive football for a bit, then so be it!
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