City boss Glenn Roeder has fired a warning shot across the bows of midfield playmaker Wes Hoolahan after the 26-year-old failed to re-appear for the second-half at Ninian Park this weekend.
For in the run-up to Ross McCormack's third minute opener, the Canary chief appeared to see the former Blackpool ace come all-too close to shirking a challenge.
Not on, was the manager's forceful verdict afterwards. Hoolahan's card had been marked.
“Wes Hoolahan will be very disappointed – and he got told that at half-time,” said the City boss, who was notable by his presence on the touchline within 20 minutes of the game starting.
By then McCormack had all-too easily wandered into shooting position on the edge of the Canary box to put the Bluebirds one-up; five minutes later and Jamie Cureton had bobbled a horrible penalty wide.
Did he not like what he saw – as Hoolahan was about to discover following his quietest 45 minutes in a City shirt to date.
Somewhere in the midst of McCormack's opener, he had not covered himself in glory as Cardiff put themselves in the driving seat early on.
“I know what he was trying to do. He was trying to lift the ball away from the defender and jump at the same time – and you can't do that,” said Roeder.
“It's a 50-50 tackle; you have to win the ball; you have to make the tackle – you know, it almost looks like he's jumping out of the way not to get injured. And that's totally unacceptable. And Wes has been told that; he understands that.”
Roeder – never one to mince his words – demands 100 per cent commitment; no-one is going to be allowed an easy ride on his watch.
“He did that again in the first-half and I just wasn't happy with his performance – and that's why he got taken off. So he's not injured. He got taken off because I wasn't happy with his performance.
“And he has to do better in training this week to get a place in the team next week.”
Hoolahan's replacement after the break – Lee Croft – bagged two big assists as Arturo Lupoli's double-strike turned the contest on its head. The fact that Roeder viewed Matty Pattison's efforts as his best yet in a City shirt suggests that the South African-bred Geordie has already got hi name on the team-sheet for next weekend's big clash with early promotion favourites Birmingham City.
Hoolahan, therefore, has his work cut out to keep his shirt.
“I think it is a whole new ball game now for Wes Hoolahan at Norwich City,” said Roeder, whose anger was only stemmed by Lupoli's late heroics.
“Norwich is a much bigger club than Blackpool – there Wes was the star of the show. And I think he was basically allowed to do what he wants.
“No. Not here. He'll play my way – or he won't play.”
The manager did, however, had warmer words for two of his team – Darel Russell who found himself handed the stand-in striker gig from the start and Cureton, whose eighth minute penalty miss compounded his early season miseries.
“I thought Rusty [Russell] did ever so well and deserves a lot of praise playing up there – he's certainly seen being a striker in a different light now and the battering they take,” said Roeder, as his centre-midfield star got little change out of either Darren Purse and Roger Johnson.
“He enjoyed it; I thought he played with a lot of bravery and courage. And he deserved to stay on the pitch.”
All of which found Clingan giving way and Norwich ending the game with their best foot forward as Lupoli and Omar Koroma chased all three points.
As for Cureton, Roeder appeared intent on giving him a sympathetic hearing.
“Cureton needs a goal – and badly,” said the Canary boss, after the City favourite smacked a bar against Hoolahan's old employers last weekend – and topped the ball when clean through.
“He's another player who against Blackpool last week should have wrapped the game up for us in the first-half. We've just got to make sure that it doesn't start affecting him in terms of his game.”