There comes a time every now and then in life, when you can’t carry on how you are and need to make a decision; otherwise known as a crossroads moment.
Norwich City have reached that crossroad and they need to decide what they want to be known for in the 2014/15 season.
As a squad, do they want to be getting back to where this club ‘belongs’, in the Premier League, or is this squad happy to start a slip into the abyss a la 2005/06?
As a set of fans, do we want to be just a cacophony of silly and overreacting views, and contribute to an unnecessary building of pressure for Neil Adams when we are only 4 points off the summit of the Championship?
As a management team, does Adams stick with the players he has got, or mix it about with a bit more rotation? Maybe he will even think about dipping into the loan market.
These are all questions that need to be answered by the components and people that make up Norwich City.
That may come across as slightly dramatic, but getting thumped 4-0 in the manner Norwich did at the Riverside last night was worrying. It was a promotion rival, granted, but Middlesbrough are not the most talented of sides and that is what made it even more concerning off the back of a sketchy run of form that has seen 3 wins, 4 draws and 3 defeats.
Time and time again ‘Boro meandered forward, and as soon as the ball got out to the right side of defence we looked doomed.
People will moan that the penalty was harsh for the second goal, but when you have already been burned for pace for one goal (by Adomah), it was unforgiveable that Russell Martin let George Friend get the wrong side of him.
He was always going to go down and if it was the other way round we would have been screaming for a spot kick.
I dread to think what Assombalonga will do to Martin if he carries on with this charade that he is a centre-back. I would like the pace of Usain Bolt, the feet of Jason Robinson and the prowess of Sonny Bill-Williams but that doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to get these attributes!
I’m not meaning to rip into one particular player here, but Martin has largely got away with filling in at centre-back so far and it is a problem that is festering.
Wanting to be the captain and leader for your club and country at the heart of defence is all fine and dandy, but you kind of have to back those ambitions up with actions. I don’t see it happening unfortunately.
Adams has some tough decisions to make looking ahead to the Forest game, and indeed the next few weeks, but I would seriously think of giving Carlos Cuellar or Ignasi Miquel a chance at centre-back on Saturday.
Steven Whittaker’s performance also left a lot to be desired again, so the captain could be spared his blushes by getting the opportunity to impress in what I believe to be his more natural position of right-back.
Trying to salvage some positives out of this latest performance is about as difficult as trying to get a supermarket trolley out of the deep-water Tees port. But I’ll give it a go.
Gary O’Neil was quite impressive again, showing the grit and determination needed for the hard slog of the Championship. An O’Neil shot which was well saved in the first half was in the event, the highlight of a drab Norwich match. And Gary Hooper did slightly better than Cameron Jerome, who had a bad day at the office.
I must say, the 500 or so travelling fans were fantastic too. We were still singing at 3-0 down and the only reaction from the ‘Boro fans in the less than half-full stadium was to bang a drum. It is that level of encouraging support and dedication that will see us through tight matches and give the players a timely boost.
I hope whoever is going to the City Ground raises the roof and gets behind Neil and the team.
So in conclusion, yes it was a pathetic, abject performance. It was a 4-0 defeat and simply not good enough.
But we are at a crossroads, not in the midst of a disaster, and it is the decisions made now that will define the rest of our season. Once we get through the Forest match, hopefully with a result, it will then be four matches against Brighton, Reading, Wigan and Huddersfield and I would hope we can put together a winning streak and get back on track.
My team for Saturday: – Ruddy, Martin, Cuellar, Turner, Olsson, Tettey, Johnson, Redmond, O’Neil, Lafferty, Hooper.
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