If my memory serves me correctly, one of the many statistical reports produced at the end of last season deduced that City played more long balls than anyone else. While I can recall being more than a little sceptical of its accuracy – how could City have hit more long balls than Stoke for example? – for this purpose at least, it doesn’t portray a team with a penchant for the beautiful game.
Credit again is due the Match of the Day production team who – not for the first time – excelled themselves in finding five minutes worth of highlights, although showing a Luciano Becchio that flew ten yards wide from four different angles is cheating bit.
With Harry Kane having been returned to sender – his first-half appearance against Luton being a rather inglorious way to bring his Canary career to a close – Chris Hughton finds himself back to ‘as you were’ in terms of striker numbers, but with a different looking mix to his striking pool.
The similarities between the Premier League and the Championship (and the SPL for that matter) are few and far between; even taking aside the riches on offer. The intensity and tempo of your average EPL game is what sets this league apart from all others, and is precisely what makes it such an unforgiving environment.
We’re used to lows and horror shows – part and parcel of being a Norwich supporter – but since the unveiling of Messrs Bowkett and McNally, days of that ilk have been thankfully few and far between. In fact since ‘that’ game against Colchester, they have been virtually non-existent.
A confirmed member of the ‘Plymouth Brethren’ – a group of players ‘black-marked’ by Roeder following that 3-0 defeat – he found himself well and truly out of the first-team picture, and was consigned to train and play with the reserves and youth-team.
There is no hiding away from the abjectness of yesterday’s performance, and even those of us for whom the pint-glass is half-full have struggled to unearth too many positives. But we need to remind ourselves that this is the same group of players who took us all on that terrific ten game unbeaten run.
One player likely to figure, and who was also part of the September debacle, is Michael Turner. The source of much derision early in his City career – the Liverpool game looming large in his early-season CV – he would almost certainly take the ‘most improved Norwich player’ award if such a thing existed.
There were a few positives – the obvious one being the clean sheet – and it was important that we ended the four-game run of defeats; but to quote the BBC’s commentator, ‘it was not one that will last long in the memory’. And he wasn’t kidding…
As Jonesy would say, those delicate souls ‘don’t like it up ‘em’… and our Holty is just the man for that role. The joint-demolition job done on Newcastle’s makeshift backline by Holt and Steve Morrison last December – when City beat the Toon 4-2 at Carrow Road – was a classic case, and what we’d give for a repeat on Saturday.
In terms of away days, it had everything… terracing, flares, toilet roll, ageing facilities… and was rounded off nicely with a thumping win. Even with eight changes to the starting eleven Chris Hughton’s men had more than enough in the tank to easily see off a Posh side missing three of its best players. Whilst […]
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.
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.
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.
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’.