At half-time, having just observed an opening forty-five of alarming familiarity, a River End neighbour suggested there was no need for me to scribe a new piece for today. Instead he proposed I simply copy and paste bits of the reports from the Charlton and Rotherham games.
So, armed with scissors and Pritt Stick here goes…
I fear the boos that rung out round Carrow Road upon that final blast of Mark Clattenberg’s whistle were borne of a little more than frustration. Irritation was also in the air. It’s happening just too often.
Neil Adams spoke afterwards of his own frustration and the need for ‘a bit of luck’. His assertion that the performance was more Rotherham than Fulham was true but a niggling concern is that in both games, despite dominating possession and carving out some chances, few were clear cut.
Always scraps, half-chances, goalmouth scrambles. No missed ‘sitters’.
If the strikers are not being afforded a plentiful supply then you look for imagination, guile, subtlety or something a little bit different to make the breakthrough. And right now those qualities are also in short supply.
It just isn’t happening.
The quality of the passing has generally been decent – if not a bit slow and laboured at times – and there is undoubtedly a hunger and desire in the squad, but the ability to unpick a lock or two is not.
But there were some good performances last night. Jonny Howson in particular, upon locking horns with his home town club for the first time since leaving, was outstanding in the centre of midfield and made a mockery of the decision to leave him on the bench in the last few games.
His ability to pick up the ball off the back four and get things moving in a forward direction, and with a bit of zip, was a joy but all too often – once it reached the final third – momentum was lost as City headed down those infamous blind alleys.
Unlike some of those around me, I don’t have a particular problem with the ball being played backwards and sideways as long as it is done so with purpose and pace, but when it’s done so slowly and with no conviction the problems begin.
In many way there is a necessity to be patient – especially when playing at home and you’re-faced with a couple of parked buses – with the ideal solution being to try lure the opposition forward and in doing so creating some space in which to attack.
All which, of course, is much easier done from the comfort of a keyboard than when doing it for real on the green stuff but somehow, from somewhere, Adams needs to find a formula that will arrest this worrying slide. No wins from the last four league games at home is not the stuff of promotion.
But, despite some Canary Call suggestions to the contrary, I’m not sure the City boss did too much wrong last night. The two players who copped most of the Fulham flak – Bradley Johnson and Lewis Grabban – were both rested, and in their places came Howson and Kyle Lafferty. Few disagreed.
What didn’t really work was Lafferty playing down the middle although, given his amazing ten days in the green of Northern Ireland, it was unsurprising that Adams chose that particular route.
However, despite his height, the Ulsterman’s penchant for picking the ball up and running with it lends itself best to attacking from wide areas; something he did once Josh Murphy’s quiet evening had run its course.
But it was another one of those where it felt City could play until midnight without scoring.
That was until, almost out of nowhere, Russ Martin popped up with what we hoped would be the winner. The rest alas is history and one solitary defensive slip-up later we were back to square one.
Adams, in his post-match chat with BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham, was right to point out that fortune is not on City’s side at the moment – and lucky breaks are few and far between – but he must not let that deter him from looking at plans B, C and even D.
To put the current blip down to bad luck in the hope it will change and everything will be fine would be a mistake. And I’m sure that won’t be the case.
Whether plan B, C or D should entail going a little more direct is an interesting one. With two ‘big units’ up top last night I do wonder (and by now you’ll be aware of my footballing snobbery) if the occasional ball hit early and down the channels would play to the strengths of Jerome – and get visiting defenders back-pedalling a little bit more.
Right now, as attractive and neat at the football often is, it’s being played out in front of opposing defenders. Most are finding us ‘comfortable’ to defend against. So, contrary to my own footballing instincts, perhaps a more direct approach is needed or – at the very least – a more mixed and varied approach.
Other than that Man of the Match performance from Jonny Howson, the cameo of Vadis Odidja-Ofoe was worthy of a mention. The Belgian did enough in fifteen minutes to suggest that he actually does have something a little different to offer.
To date – other than an even briefer cameo at Brentford – most of us have formed our opinion based on YouTube clips and hearsay, but his first Carrow Road appearance revealed a demeanour that looks suited to the English game.
Maybe, just maybe, he can be part of Adams’ solution. Or am I just clutching those bloody straws again?
One notable City tweeter last night derided those of us who had, a few weeks ago, described the Championship as so much more fun than that Premier League. And I think he may have a point.
In hindsight it wasn’t necessarily the Championship that made August and September seem such fun… it was the winning.
On that basis let’s hope we start doing so again sooner rather than later, else it could be a long, miserable winter.