Despite the thumping 5-2 Carling Cup success over Barnet last night, City boss Peter Grant was far from happy afterwards, labelling their performance 'unprofessional'.
To be fair, the Canaries were looking red-hot in the first half after a blistering start which saw them net five times in 30 minutes, but Grant read the riot act after a lacklustre second half showing ? in which the Bees clawed two goals back to give the scoreline some respectability.
City never really looked like adding to their tally and the manner in which they let the North London side back into the contest will disappoint the City chief. After all, there are many, many better sides to visit Carrow Road in the coming campaign.
“I thought there was some good play in the first-half, attacking wise, but there were a lot of things I was still disappointed with in that period,” said Grant.
“The second-half? Well, that was abysmal to say the least. There was a total lack of professionalism and it was very difficult to watch.
“I actually had to sit down because I thought I was going to faint with the performance, there were so many wrong choices and as I said, a lack of professionalism.
“It shouldn't happen. I keep saying that to the players. Barnet were getting too many crosses in, especially in the first-half and I said at half-time I didn't want them to have another chance.
“But they had more than that; they scored two and had more chances on top of that. They still got their crosses in, they're still having efforts on the edge of the box far too often and as I said, the second half performance was very poor to say the least.
“It shows you we've still got a long way to go. Yes I can make excuses because of changes and whatever but that would be doing a disservice to the players. I thought we were all over the shop, making so many wrong choices.”
We've seen it all too often and to say City took their foot off the gas is an understatement, Grant's annoyance was clear for all to see in the post-match press call.
The phrase 'one step forward, two steps back' seems to have been born to describe the Canaries' fortune; on one hand we see them as a scintillating attacking force in the first half-hour and on the other, you have those defensive frailties rearing their ugly head yet again.
The fact that Saturday's showing at Preston was the complete opposite merely added to the Scot's frustration.
“To be fair to Barnet they kept going and they got their chances,” he added.
“You've scored the amount of goals you do, have good forward play and that's what we've been looking for and what we probably missed on Saturday.
“Then all of a sudden, the bad bits of our game take that all away. The only thing positive about it is that we are in the next round of the Cup.”
Despite the goalscoring debut of returning hero Jamie Cureton, Grant revealed afterwards that he was hauled off in the second-half for his missed chance near the end of proceedings – when Czech forward David Strihavka was free in the box and arguably better placed to score.
That certainly did not impress the gaffer; a short, sharp warning if ever there was one.
“Jamie is probably going to get the headlines for his goalscoring and I thought he was terrific in the first-half.
“His movement was good and he scored two good goals but he showed a total lack of professionalism in the second-half when he should have rolled it across to David and that's why he didn't finish the game; it just smacks of a lack of respect for your team. For me, that summed up the performance in the second half.”
The City chief also substituted Cureton's strike partner, Chris Brown, for fear of injury after a first-half elbow saw Bees defender Sagi Burton needing treatment to a cut beneath his eye.
The men from Underhill were gunning for him after that and Grant said he just couldn't take a chance; the game was won, job done. No need for any injuries, Brown, after all, only broke his nose two weeks ago in the friendly defeat to West Ham.
“I was concerned for Chris Brown because he got booked for his challenge in the first-half, then the boy smashed him in the second half and you're thinking there is going to be retribution here,” revealed Grant.
“I've not got enough players to get injuries. I thought it was important that David (Strihavka) got on the pitch as well. He was unlucky when Jamie should have fed him through, he would have scored.
“But I just couldn't leave Chris on, he obviously still has the nose problem so the reason he came off was really because we just couldn't afford an injury. I know what I'm like, if I'd have got a smack in the face like that then you'd be thinking about getting your own back.”
Luckily, Brown emerged unscathed but one player not quite so fortunate was Adam Drury. He was replaced by Chris Martin after what looked to be an ankle knock. How serious it is, we'll have to wait and see.
“Adam picked up an ankle injury and if we were playing tomorrow he wouldn't play but we'll see how he is over the next couple of days. We'll assess him in the morning and hopefully he'll be available for Saturday.”
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