Four straight defeats in some quarters have constituted a mini-disaster but, given that the middle two were against the current European and Premier League champions, things are not as bleak as some would have you believe. The two away games – West Brom and West Ham – were undoubtedly in Chris Hughton’s ‘possible win’ file, but we’ve come up just short on both occasions.
Whilst some ponderous defending for West Ham’s second goal was a contributing factor, referee Clattenberg now finds himself in the esteemed company of Messrs D’Urso, Ilderton and Oliver as referees from whom the Canaries can rightly feel a sense of injustice.
With Bassong’s initial challenge – the one that caused the whole furore – looking to be nothing more than ‘meaty’, the visitors may now regret making such a fuss. When a tackle of that ilk is deemed worthy of a ‘yellow’ then football, for me, is getting perilously close to being a non-contact sport. Do we really want to go there?
The ride we’ve been on had to end at some stage and – as Hughton has reminded us on numerous occasions – we will lose several times this season. It’s always disappointing when it happens and – I can guarantee – doesn’t get any easier to take with age. The success, or otherwise, of those boys in Yellow does have a nasty ability to make or break impact most of our weekends.
At least Barcelona can rest a little easier now they don’t have the Canaries breathing down their necks in that well-known European ‘top league’ form table. I’m sure Messi, Xavi and Iniesta slept so much more soundly on Saturday night.
City failed to give the Canary Nation the Christmas present it had hoped for when the unbeaten Premier League run of ten games ended with a narrow 2-1 defeat at West Brom. A header from Romelu Lukaku with just nine minutes remaining forced the visitors to taste league defeat for the first time since their […]
The disappointment of the Capital One cup exit was quickly forgotten as City returned to ‘business as usual’ with that gritty win over Wigan, but if we learnt one thing from the Villa game it was that, minus Wes, we lack a little bit of creativity
With the latest instalment of City’s triumphant march through the autumn of 2012 ending in another win, there’s little reason to doubt anything our leader says right now. That some of the aforementioned belief has been instilled in the class of 2012/13 is certainly not in doubt and with the unbeaten league run now stretching to a record-breaking ten games, the Canary Nation too is now starting to believe.
That we missed the wizardry of Wes is not in question… who wouldn’t. My feeling is that without him we just need to find another way of playing; one that doesn’t rely on the ‘number 10’ role acting as the hub through which everything flows.
It was a turning point; a day when the new broom did start sweeping clean. It was also one that will furthermore be known simply as ‘game two’, on our record-breaking (number yet to be determined) unbeaten run.
Hughton’s enforced changes did little to slow his team’s momentum in the opening period, as they revealed a previously hidden ruthless streak to storm into a 3-0 lead. But for a ten minute spell midway through the first 45, during which a Danny Graham header crashed against Mark Bunn’s crossbar, the Canaries dominated and were well worth their lead.
The Liverpool disaster still brings back painful memories – for me at least – but the progress made in the intervening 66 days is immeasurable. In Chris Hughton’s words the antidote to that, and the marginally better fare served up at Chelsea in the game that followed, was to ‘go back to basics’.
While the performance failed to reach any of the heady heights seen recently at Carrow Road, it was still composed, solid and controlled… just how Hughton likes it. Two banks of four with the full-backs tucked in has proved a hit on the road of late, and last night was no exception.
For those of us who’ve watched and played the game, the first half showing – coming as it did off the back of the Manchester United spine-tingler – didn’t come as a complete surprise. I’ll avoid the Lord Mayor cliché, but to produce such a lack-lustre 45 after previously scaling the heights isn’t unusual.
Last night was a classic case of Team Hughton getting the tricky balance of defence/attack absolutely spot on. To go ‘gung-ho’ against the likes of United leaves you wide open to be picked-off on the counter-attack, and to park the bus merely invites them to further pile the pressure on.
The price being paid is that chances created for Grant Holt and co are currently less plentiful. It’s no coincidence that the last two homes games have been 1-0 wins – but while the points are being accumulated I don’t think there’ll be too many complaints. Hughton’s risk and reward strategy is currently producing a profit…
For Hughton, the return of Grant Holt – following his opening, five-game sabbatical – and the emergence of one Sebastien Bassong have gone a long way to answer these particular questions. No room for complacency of course, but add Alex Tettey into the mix and there is now promising looking spine running through the side…
The bit that seems to be missing from the Stoke model is that football is an entertainment industry and we, the fans, pay handsomely for the privilege of watching these highly skilled sportsman at work…
The cliché ‘name on the cup’ is not one I tend to use – makes it sound as if you just need to turn up, do nothing, yet still miraculously appear in the hat for the next round. But it makes you wonder doesn’t it? How else could you explain this phenomenon of late winners, penalty saves, home draws and ‘dream’ ties?
He had to settle for a point against a Villa side that, surprisingly, looked to have improved very little since that desperate visit to Carrow Road on the final day of last season. I wrote back then – following their dire performance and subsequent successful pursuit of our manager – that Villa looked more in need of a Paul Daniels than a Paul Lambert. I witnessed nothing yesterday to change my mind…