I have to start this piece with a confession.
I missed the recent home game with Leeds United at Carrow Road. Other commitments and all that.
I also have to confess that I was not surprised at all at the result. Even when Norwich were picking up victories against the likes of Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Wigan etc consensus seemed to be that the team wasn’t performing up to expectation.
Ugly word that. Expectation. Going in to the last international break after the victory at Molineux, Alex Neil had just won Manager of the Month and the team were in the automatic promotion spots.
Was expectation just too high?
This international break is a completely different story. No league wins in four, the throwing away of leads (although I think that the point at Fulham was a good result given the horrendous results we’ve had there down the years) and the pressure on the manager has been ramped up to new levels – which given the trip to Brighton I think is justified entirely.
I used to be a huge Alex Neil fan but City are just too predictable going forward and the defence might just as well not have been playing in certain games.
Playing with one striker up front means that when Wes is marked out of games, or isn’t his usual tantalising self, width becomes even more important so that there is a different supply line.
Sure, when Ivo Pinto and Martin Olsson are bombing on down the wings the width is there but when they aren’t (and we miss Pinto almost as much as we miss Jonny Howson’s dynamism) the attacking midfielders either side of Wes need to be the ones offering that width or at least a different type of threat.
The likes of Robbie Brady, the Murphy twins and Alex Pritchard (who in fairness has only just come back from injury) just havent been the attacking midfielders we’ve needed.
Either way the system needs to change to get the best out of the players we have available and the form of individuals, or the players need to fit into the system which has been picked for that game.
If I could just ask Alex Neil one question, it would be this: why, when even the fans know how Chris Hughton is going to play (i.e. sitting back and hitting teams on the counter) would you go into a game against his team with the full-backs and midfield squeezing up and therefore play right into his hands?
It’s hardly rocket science.
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.
Finally, I have to mention Nick Raven who passed away recently. I met him through going to away games on the Eastons coaches. It always struck me that he was a genuinely nice guy and Norwich City fan through and through.
RIP Nick – away days won’t be the same without him.