Naismith was superb, playing with energy and vivacity with the ball while harrying Leeds’ overrun midfielders like a terrier off it. Owing to his occasional lack of innovation, Naismith’s significance when City do not have possession has gone increasingly unnoticed this season.
Hughton is a man of dignity, integrity and principal. He never shied away from providing the fans with honest, sincere and forthright answers in times of adversity. In a long term sense, things didn’t work out for him at City. I – like many others I’m sure – wish things had ensued differently.
Russell Martin and Ryan Bennett were mannequins for the lively Jonathan Kodjia’s second goal. I don’t recall Alex Tettey playing a single pass that delineated any sense of directness, urgency or penetration. Steven Whittaker was daydreaming for the home side’s opener.
The new business model announced on Saturday morning represents a significant turning point from our club, terminating the seemingly outdated and recently ineffective traditional system and implementing a refreshed, overtly modern continental structure. Although many may have their doubts, such a reconfiguration was exactly what this drifting club needed.
Sunday’s stalemate constituted a setback. So did that rudderless outing at the Pirelli. But twelve games remain. With a minimal 3-point gap between City and sixth place so irresistibly looming, we must believe. We’ve seen glimpses from this underachieving squad. Let us nostalgically reflect back to that jubilant trip to the City Ground in September
The season appears to have gone. The ostensibly improved run we had recently constructed showed no real signs of progress, with victories only coming at a subdued Carrow Road against relatively low-lying Wolves, Birmingham and Nottingham Forest and the solitary away win in Wales at the hands of the equally incompetent Cardiff.
McNally had his flaws. The bizarrely announced resignation via social media aside, his decision to publicly undermine Chris Hughton through the announcement that he was searching for potential replacements was far from his finest hour. Such impetuousness is not what this club needs.
Klose and Martin are not bad defenders but are simply not reliable nor solid enough to function as the backbone of a promotion chasing team. Two clean sheets may suggest otherwise but they have come at home against ineffective opposition and the result at Rotherham once again made their shortcomings palpable.
This performance did delineate just what this City side are capable of. It showed that if Neil – finally – picks his most effective team, deploys the right tactics and fosters the requisite unity and spirit required to produce results, this season will not descend into the futile one it appeared to be plummeting into. Time now to build.
Defensive ineptitude and vulnerability prevailed. City’s resurgence was short-lived, the termination of which once again derived from the failure of individuals to successfully conduct fundamental jobs and to take responsibility. It’s become something of a Comedy of Errors now.
The uninspiring and unstimulating duo of Robbie Brady and Jacob Murphy were fundamentally oblivious to their important defensive duties, steadfastly refusing to track back and therefore leaving City exposed.
Scenes were toxic at Oakwell. Such obvious aversion from City’s loyal following must surely go some distance in relinquishing Moxey’s seemingly oblivious stance towards our pain. The fans want change. City need change.
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.
There is also a strong case for dropping Klose. Although his clever and often amusing employment of social media indicates he is clearly committed to City, the errors committed at the weekend were so poor.
The players must receive some form of criticism, too: the same eleven who looked so comfortable throughout the first half on Tuesday night subsequently crumbled after half-time, letting what could be two critical points slip.
Wednesday night’s damaging affair in the north started just as badly as it had ended. Newcastle were dominant in the first half, being profligate with opportunities and seeing Michael McGovern make a series of terrific close range saves. We deserved to go behind through the menacing Gayle.
City – incompetent defending for Forest’s opener aside – were terrific in the Midlands, showing a potent combination of resolve, application and discipline to overturn a deficit in front of 2000 elated travelling fans.
He is not under-rated by Norwich fans: we all appreciate his worth and his profound impact he makes on the team. His consistency in a yellow shirt has been remarkable, rarely demonstrating any form of profligacy in possession and surging forward to score goals too.
“Whilst the result at Blackburn may have been a slightly skewed indication of our quality given the opposition’s profound ineptitude both on and off the pitch, four points from two difficult home games is a promising start…
With the new Championship season looming, vital lessons can be learned not just by Alex Neil’s Norwich City but by all domestic sides. Be bold. Communicate. Provide leadership not just on the pitch but from the dugout as well. Take responsibility.