I’m not wholly sure why – with this afternoon’s events at Carrow Road still so fresh in the memory – I should feel compelled to write a comment piece.
It is, after all, a Saturday night; I really need to get out more.
But there are a couple of things that I need to get off my chest before it’s too late and the moment passes – besides, it is not every weekend that the Canaries rack up their biggest league win in 40-odd years and all on the day when their nearest rivals for that second automatic promotion spot prove a little error-prone with that 2-1 away defeat at Preston North End.
One small caveat to all that follows, Scunthorpe were as poor as Norwich were good.
If those boys set out to impress the new ‘gaffer’ Alan Knill, then I suspect he’ll ‘want words’ with each and every one of them come Monday morning.
If nothing else, you would have thought the likes of an Andy Hughes would have put at least one decent tackle in during the course of the game – send someone into the front row of the Jarrold Stand if only to vent your frustration at never seeing the ball between the hours of three and five o’clock.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole ‘there’s never an easy game in the Championship…’ line. There is if you’re playing The Iron would be my response.
But, that said, it would be churlish to take anything away from the level of Norwich’s performance.
Some of the movement and the passing was right out of the very top drawer – not wholly surprising when you consider just how comfortable the likes of Wes Hoolahan, Dani Pacheco and Andrew Surman are on the ball.
These boys play; they see the bigger pictures. And in such company, it is clear that the Grant Holts, the David Fox’s and the Andrew Crofts feel equally at ease knocking little first time balls either to feet or into space.
So, point one. In terms of a performance measured by passing and possession, that’s as good as it’s got for a very, very long-time.
Point two, struck me around the point that Henri Lansbury was whipping the ball into the near-post for Simeon Jackson to pop up with his second, Norwich’s fifth.
For by then, the Canaries had made their three subsitutions. Holt, Pacheco and Hoolahan had all left to their respective standing ovations and on had come Jackson, Lansbury and Sam Vokes.
If you start to judge a side by the quality of player that they can afford to keep on the bench, then it is little wonder why Norwich are where they are.
Lansbury, in particular, might not like the idea of playing second fiddle to a Hoolahan or a Surman, but the level and intensity of his performance – and the manner in which he celebrated the final result – suggested he has bought into the squad thing that Lambert has going on right now.
There are very few clubs – and, indeed, managers – who could afford to keep a Henri Lansbury on the bench and still get him delivering a shift that smacked of big respect for the Gaffer.
Vokes remains something of an unknown; Jackson took his goals with aplomb. Whether he has still done enough to oust Pacheco from the team that starts at The Liberty next weekend is, however, another matter.
Lambert described the 20-year-old’s debut as ‘as good as he’s seen’ – no mean accolade for the one-time Barcelona youngster, who judging by the number of Merseyside-based comments to pop up on last week’s piece already has an army of admirers in the red half of Liverpool.
For many reasons, I had an interesting chat with ex-City keeper Scott Howie in Waitrose the other week.
And we ended up talking about what makes for a great footballer. And he made a very telling observation that crossed my mind again when watching Master Pacheco ply his trade.
The best footballers, suggested Howie, are those that make the right decisions, time and time again.
When to pass, where to move, when to shoot… they are constantly analysing game situations and, instantly, reacting to the changing circumstances and making their decisions accordingly.
Now it may well be that the right decision to move into the right space at the right time isn’t rewarded with the right pass from a team-mate – we can’t all be a Lionel Messi – but when we looked at Pacheco’s performance that was what stood out.
He didn’t make too many wrong decisions.
His decision to ping a ball into Surman’s feet and to then dart into the hole through that inside left channel was rewarded by the right decision from Surman to return the ball into his path towards the by-line – the pair rewarded with Holt’s opener as Pacheco made the right decision again to pull the ball back to the near corner of the six-yard box where the City skipper lurked.
The execution actually came through simple, little passes; it was the decision-making process that stood out as of a higher order than the nPower Championship.
It is, you suspect, the kind of quality that a Lansbury likewise offers. More often than not, these boys make the right decisions. And earn their reward as a result.
As did the Canaries; their reward for a glorious performance was a 6-0 win and another big step taken towards back-to-back promotions – a return to the Land of Milk and Honey.
Next week’s trip to The Liberty is a big one, no doubt. The Swans will be smarting from the defeat at Deepdale and will know that they cannot afford to see Norwich move seven points distant with just six games remaining.
So the pressure will be on them to deliver. Right now, Norwich appear to be playing without a care in the world such was the level of today’s passing performance.
And that, in itself, is a remarkable achievement at this, the business end of the season.
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