City boss Chris Hughton offered few excuses for this weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Stoke City – a result that left Norwich sat somewhat nervously six points clear of the relegation zone.
They should – emphasis on should – still be OK; two home games to come and at a time in any season when confidence, belief and momentum are everything, there are teams with more concerns than the Canaries.
The manner of Wigan’s last-minute heart-breaker at home to Spurs – an own-goal denying them a crucial victory – will take some swallowing, whilst the alarm bells will be well and truly ringing on Tyneside this weekend.
If the 3-0 home defeat by arch rivals Sunderland sparked riots on the streets, then last night’s 6-0 home defeat by Liverpool will have the Toon Army fearing the worst. United are falling apart – and in genuine danger of falling through the floor in the final weeks of the season.
The manner and nature of City’s defeat at the Britannia was all-too predictable – a big, deep diagonal that was meat and drink for ex-loan favourite Peter Crouch; his knockdown found Charlie Adam the first to react.
Bang; job done. The fact that Norwich failed to prompt a single, notable save out of the Potters keeper will keep the debate raging as to where, exactly, Norwich are right now – still looking down the barrel of the relegation gun or still able to scramble across the finishing line and not finish in a Newcastle-like heap.
“We genuinely thought we could come here and get something,” said Hughton afterwards, his hopes pinned on a decent performance for the first 85 minutes against Arsenal and then that crucial home win against Reading last weekend.
That could yet prove the win that Norwich needed. Hopefully.
Equally for anyone who has ever followed Norwich on their travels to the Britannia Ground, believing that there might be something in the contest for the visitors is invariably a forlorn hope. Norwich and Stoke simply don’t mix well. Period.
All that Norwich normally come away with is a battering.
“Even if that’s a draw – a draw here is always a very tough ask. But we knew we had to impose ourselves, but what we came up against was a Stoke side back to their most direct.”
And robust, as the hefty challenges flew in an ugly, chanceless first period. It didn’t improve after the break, either. One for the cutting room floor, Match Of The Day wise.
“I thought there were some poor challenges,” admitted Hughton, with City skipper Grant Holt – re-tasked with leading the line on his lonesome again – giving as good as he got on that front.
“But it was the timing of the goal – that helps them,” he conceded to the BBC, with the second period barely two minutes old before Adam’s strike.
“But then we needed to show a little bit more of ourselves in possession to cause them more problems,” he added, as Norwich’s ability to retain the ball for any great length of time once more tested the patience of all concerned.
For Pulis – whose side are now over the magic 40-point mark – it is always about getting the job done. However you do it – just stay in the Premier League for another year.
Whether anyone would ever say they graced it, is another matter. Brutal efficiency still works.
“Our first challenge is always to stay in the Premier League, anything else is a bonus,” the less-than-loved Potters boss said afterwards.
But he has done the job. Again. No-one can deny him that.
“A sixth successive Premier League season would be a great achievement for a club that a few years ago was a mid-table Championship side,” he added.
Follow us on Twitter