Whilst City’s November nadir has been less a product of our lack of creativity than one of defensive ineptitude, Saturday was nonetheless a concern. City have a talented squad – the second most so in this league – yet Alex Neil seems fundamentally incapable of deriving the optimum performances from his players.
Archives for November 2016
This white VW Golf convertible had been tailing me for seemingly ages with rap so loud it was almost drowning out my Iron Maiden. As we pulled up side by side at the lights the occupants looked over. Foxy in the passenger seat and Lee Power driving. I just waved my scarf out of the window of the Mondeo and got two great thumbs-ups.
Closer to home, while David McNally was in post I wrote a number of pieces here in praise, or defence, of him. The great bulk of readers’ comments were negative, often vehement in their attack on me, McNally or both.
Alex was bullish, and clearly finds himself increasingly at odds with those who interview him and write about him, but until that fire in the belly starts translating into points on the board then the difficult questions will continue.
A win is a win, you only get three points no matter how it happens, but I think the reason fans and media have been so quick to turn on Alex and the board, is that we’ve been incredibly disjointed for most of the season – and winning ugly only takes you so far.
Many newspapers were chasing Delia and Michael to “do a piece” to mark the 20th anniversary of their becoming City’s majority shareholders. The hack pack would not be put off the scent until they talked to someone, and Henry is a lovely guy, so …
Wherever the fingers point, one thing that most people seem to agree on is that this isn’t a mere blip and that our current woes are reflective of deep-rooted issues within the club which don’t bode well for the future.
I remember seeing an interview with Sam Allardyce where he quoted Sir Alex Ferguson as saying that man management in the top flight was the most difficult challenge. Alex Neil has discovered this the hard way.
Mark Bowen has to be one of the very finest players ever to wear the yellow shirt. “You’ll never beat Mark Bowen” sang the Barclay, and were invariably correct. He could play anywhere, too – midfield, striker, even in goal once at Coventry.
I’d still wait through at least the Derby game, to see if the spirited last 20 minutes at QPR can be carried into a full match. Another insipid performance, though, and it would be tough to argue against change.
Condescending, obstinate, out of touch… the interview ticked all the wrong boxes for Norwich City fans and merely pointed towards two people with their heads in the sand. Football has moved into another stratosphere and just because Delia and Michael don’t like it, doesn’t mean football is suddenly going to conform to their way of thinking. And if we want to keep up with the Joneses…
What we see before us now is a far cry from the well-oiled machine that purred through the play-offs and beyond. This iteration looks disjointed, dis-spirited, disorganised and, in some cases, disinterested; some of the players looking anything but sure of their role in the side.
The passing has been pedestrian, allowing teams to get behind the ball, and against Leeds you could see players actively pulling out of challenges; that’s seriously worrying and defensive organisation has been almost non-existent throughout the team.
For certain players, that simply means not making a howler or screwing things up. For others – those with a hefty price tag or reputation for example – the expectations are higher.
I missed the Leeds game but have seen the goals we conceded. Even on just those three clips, our players conspicuously failed to challenge and put their bodies on the line as we’d expect. However reasonable or unreasonable other expectations are, that one is non-negotiable.
I still have faith in Neil but to turn things around but I would just hope for a little more unpredictability to our play and for the manager to be able to change tactics if things aren’t going well in any particularly during a game.
These guys have been handed a golden ticket. The chance to walk out on that Carrow Road turf, wearing the yellow shirt, in front of 26,000 adoring fans, tasked with representing our football club is literally the stuff of dreams. And to be paid handsomely to do so?
It does not bode well for the future. We can’t keep up with the Jones’s while we have to live with the Smiths. The ambition factor is lower than the proverbial snake’s tummy and we are stuck with it. When the parachute payments disappear we will be well and truly sunk.
I could do a long list of footballers who the Canaries have plucked from either obscurity or near footballing oblivion who have, in time, embraced the opportunity given to them to prove themselves, who have felt wanted and have, in turn, wanted to be here.
Neil was clear in his post-match comments that he still believes in his ability, which to an extent I agree with, but the lack of tactical changes resembles the period he went through in the Premier League when his game-plans were first found out.