So… the run continues and the Canary bandwagon trundles on.
With a run of seven Premier league games without defeat and a Capital One Cup quarter-final just around the corner, one could be forgiven for thinking that things couldn’t get too much better right now.
But it appears not.
A quick peak at the message boards offered up a surprising numbers of negatives, with several calling for Chris Hughton to ring the changes. I understand Canary Call also had its fair share of detractors.
Maybe I’m in the minority – and am missing the point – but the formula for me is working. Hughton and his lieutenants have happened upon a system that provides a solid base upon which to build. Things are ticking asking nicely… why change it?
Before too long, one suspects we will have a blip – unbeaten runs like these don’t go on forever – and then it’ll be time for the gaffer to freshen it up. But…if it ain’t broke…
The one forced change – Mark Bunn in for the luckless John Ruddy – was accommodated fairly seamlessly, and was further justification for Hughton’s summer long pursuit of the former Blackburn man. A calm, confident aura is a must for a top flight keeper – and Bunn exudes it. The manager’s post-match comments suggest that another experienced keeper may be in his sights in January – a temporary measure to cover the loss of England’s number two – but one hopes it will be as cover for Bunn rather than vice-versa.
While the performance failed to reach any of the heady heights seen recently at Carrow Road, it was still composed, solid and controlled… just how Hughton likes it. Two banks of four with the full-backs tucked in has proved a hit on the road of late, and last night was no exception.
The one thing missing from the first half performance was the neat and tidy passing on which the system so relies. Luckily, the lifeline thrown by Saints keeper, Paulo Gazzaniga on the stroke of half-time was just the fillip the team needed and the ball retention in the second half was immeasurably better.
As a result, City carried a greater threat going forward and can count themselves a little unlucky not to have taken all three points. It may have been as a result of me wearing my trusty yellow and green spectacles, but I could have sworn that young Shaw’s trip on Robert Snodgrass was a nailed on penalty. Like I said, maybe it was just me…
The Yellow Army again played their part magnificently, and to take almost 2000 to the South Coast on a grim Wednesday evening – particularly given the arduous journey from Norfolk – was admirable in the extreme. It’s surely no coincidence that, when kicking towards that wall of yellow, the performance level rises. It happened at Goodison (yes, I know they’re not behind the goal, but you get my gist) and it happened again at St Mary’s last night.
Much is made of the atmosphere generated at Carrow Road – often by opposing managers – but the travelling Yellow Army is surely a match for anything the Premiership has to offer. Or maybe it’s just my yellow and greens specs talking again…
One of the other talking points of the night was Grant Holt’s inglorious exit from proceedings. His departure on 79 minutes – to be replaced by Steve Morison – saw our leader stomp straight down the tunnel without as much as a sideways glance to the manager, or anyone in fact. I suspect with Rickie Lambert (his Rochdale team-mate from way back) having given his side the lead, Holty wanted to put his own stamp on the evening’s events. When the opportunity for some late heroics was denied him – and with the jibes of the home fans ringing in his ears – it appeared our skipper took ‘the hump’.
Hughton made light of the issue and stated, quite rightly, that he wouldn’t expect any of his players to enjoy being subbed. Holt, later in the evening ‘tweeted’ his contentment with a hard earned point, and one can therefore assume it was heat of the moment stuff. I suspect the watching Sunderland scout would have made note… if there’s one thing you don’t want, as an opponent, it’s an angry Holt. I know where my money for first goal on Sunday is going.
So another excellent point gained, and the momentum is still in a forward direction. The style may not be pleasing everyone but frankly… who cares. The last time City enjoyed an unbeaten run of seven top-flight games was way back in 1994 – so for Team Hughton to conjure one up off the back of the Liverpool disaster is nothing short of miraculous.
Long may it continue… now bring on the Mackems.