Eddie Howe’s post-match declaration that his Bournemouth side got exactly what they they deserved at Carrow Road this afternoon was about right.
While Neil Adams was left to rue a classic case of ‘switching off’ at the wrong moment, the Cherries’ young boss departed the Fine City with the warm glow of a job well done.
Bournemouth not only did a job on City but they played some decent football in the process – and, as one Canary Caller described it, did a passable impersonation of the Championship’s version of Swansea-ola.
For City’s part the performance was more Ipswich than Blackburn, yet still they were just one severe bout of ball-watching away from making it five wins in five. But, as we’re constantly reminded, in the Championship anyone can match anyone and so it proved.
Today was always destined to be a tricky one. Bournemouth are a decent side who look set fair for another crack at the Championship’s play-off places. They will take many scalps over the next nine months and Team Adams knew they were in for a tough afternoon.
Alas for some City fans this afternoon’s result came as a crushing blow. No sooner have Adams’ men has rediscovered what it feels like to win again, than some of our number appear to have already forgotten how it feels not to win. There were even a few boos ringing around the River End at the final whistle.
Yet the harsh cold reality is that this afternoon was a classic case of football dragging you back down to earth the instant you start to sail with the fairies. “Pride always come before a fall” was a mantra that was swilling around my head as I skimmed the #NCFC Twitter timeline pre-match, with many predicting this afternoon to be a stroll in the park. Football’s not like that.
We’ve had a brilliant ten days, and quite rightly made hay of last Saturday’s no-show by Suffolk’s finest, yet while today wasn’t exactly ‘a fall’ it was a short sharp reality check of what we can expect between now and next May.
The Championship is tough. And it’s a marathon. There will be plenty of disappointments for the Y’Army to cope with along the way – bigger ones than today – but we hope of course that they will be outnumbered by the good days. And if that’s the case then the squad Adams has assembled – and is assembling – will be there or thereabouts.
The form of Lewis Grabban continues to impress and is one big fat reason why, if his fitness and form continues in its current rich vein, City will be contenders. His 14th minute header, from the most exquisite Nathan Redmond cross imaginable, was one of a striker in form and was of an ilk we seldom witnessed last season.
And it was important and fitting that Redmond was the provider. The England Under-21 winger is one whose early season form has divided opinion – and there is no question that his delivery and decision making in the final third is frustrating for all – but the run and cross that led to Grabban’s header was a timely glimpse of his potential.
I genuinely hope his critics – who presumably are giving him the treatment due to having no other obvious whipping boy contenders – will save their moans and groans for the pub or message-board. I’d hate for the rumblings of discontent to manifest themselves into Redmond playing it safe. He’s at his best when he’s running at defenders at pace and getting them to back-peddle.
By taking one or two touches and then playing it safe he’ll be half the player. If, for him to play with confidence, it means the odd over-hit cross and shot into row Z, I’ll take that for now. He’s far from the finished product – neither is Josh Murphy for that matter – but I consider us more a threat with him in the side.
As for the defensive side to his game – I suspect an Adams/Holt/Robson combo told him all he needed to know at half-time.
Alas, the Bournemouth goal – and its timing – did have the psychological impact of going in a goal behind instead of level, and did affect City’s early second-half offering. But as the game progressed my green and yellow tinted shades told me that if a goal was coming it was going to be a Norwich one. However, on this occasion it didn’t happen.
We were left with the usual ifs and buts – if Brad’s free-kick had been a couple of inches lowers; if Cameron’s had made a better contact with his header – but ultimately the draw was the right result. And the City boss agreed.
“I was hoping for three points and we only ended up with one but overall I think it was a fair result”, was Adams’ take on the afternoon’s events.
“I thought we dealt with them well but we just switched off once at the back and that cost us. It’s disappointing because we want to be winning all our games here – but we have got 10 points from our first five games and if we keep that record up throughout the season we will be right up there.”
And he’s right. More of the same and there’ll will be few complaints – even from the River End.