This season has been one of contrasts. A good start followed by an indifferent (at best) run of games and some poor form.
Neil Adams is learning on the job. That much is clear. But I’m of the opinion that some of the performances haven’t necessarily culminated in the points they should have done.
Is that Adams fault? Well that’s up to you to decide but I think we’ve been on the end of some rotten luck; post hitting, stunning goalkeeper saves (Sheffield Wednesday away in particular) and some dodgy referee decisions.
I’ve been quite vocal on various social media channels, about Adams’ ability to do his job properly and I’m the first to admit that I tend to overreact to defeats. We’re all guilty of that.
Travelling home from Wigan on Saturday night enabled me to think about things in detail and with the away game in the North West being our 20th league game of the season a sizeable proportion of it has now passed.
I don’t think City have been anywhere near as consistent as they have needed to be – both performance and results wise – and I think this is partly due to the predictability in our play. I’ve lost count of the amount of teams (particularly at home) that have soaked up our sustained pressure and then just hit us on the break.
But Wigan away was different.
I agree with those that say it wasn’t a classic, but Championship football rarely is. A team needs to be able to nick games 1-0 and hold out for points when they’ve been getting battered.
I hate to be one who blames the manager when Norwich lose and give everyone else, apart from the manager, credit when we win but for me Saturday had the knowledge of Mike Phelan stamped all over it. We kept it tight when we needed to, we pressed them all over the park (and that’s something that I feel has been very lacking this season) and kept things simple to edge out a priceless victory.
One of the main criticisms I’ve levelled at Neil is that his naivety has cost us. Promising the fans attacking football doesn’t mean we can’t keep it tight and frustrate the opposition in order to win games; Brighton at home being the most recent example.
It was no surprise to me while I was standing (or sitting just if any stewards are reading this) at the DW Stadium that instead of maintaining our attacking intent we did everything we could to close the game out. A big difference to previous weeks; even Bolton at home should have been comfortable but instead the visitors almost grabbed an equaliser because of our insistence on trying to add gloss to the score line.
But I digress.
This season was not one for an experiment. My view is that Neil should’ve been allowed to go off and cut his teeth at a lower league club to hone his skills before coming back to “his club” with all the skills necessary to do the job.
However if we continue to improve – Saturday was just one game after all – then there is absolutely no reason why I, and others, should not be big enough to put our fears and grievances aside and get behind the management and the team like only the Yellow Army can.
I say this after every single away match I attend but the support at Wigan was brilliant. The fans, as one famous lady once said, consistently play the role of twelfth man and Saturday was no different. Bearing in mind how poor our form has been recently, and it was the first week of an always busy month, to take over a thousand Canary supporters was brilliant.
As long as the team continues to improve and as long as we continue to compete in and around the top six/seven then Adams will make the job his own. And we all want him to succeed.
So it’s Huddersfield at Carrow Road next week and with it comes the probable visit of a Norwich City legend. When ex ‘blue and whites’ come calling they get booed (and often end up scoring against us) but I’m not really sure how to approach the return of the legend. I think a simple cheer in recognition of what Holty did for us will suffice before we watch Norwich collect the three points.
Ian S says
My fears still remain, that Adams is still learning the job, which we cannot afford. It is for that reason I don’t believe we will go up this season. We certainly have the players to do it anyway.
Stewart Lewis says
Samir: I’ve often challenged your opinions, but not this time – a fair, thoughtful and persuasive piece. Nicely written, too. Can’t disagree with much of your analysis or conclusions.
As to Grant Holt, I’d say there are two reasons for us to give him a generous reception: (i) he deserves it and (ii) we know how much better he plays if the crowd winds him up. Let’s force him to motivate himself, without help from us.
Paul Mitchell says
There is no evidence that Neil Adams is capable of taking this so called “strong squad” back to the Big Land.
Team consistency is key, middle of December and there is no indication of the best starting 11, the fluency and combinations of play is non-existence. As much as it hurts but the job MM is doing down the road is very similar to what Paul Lambert did with our fine club. The place needs to be bouncing, CR is more like a library, allegedly the coaches are fallen out with one another and the players appear to be using NCFC as an opportunity to put themselves in the PL as an individual rather than a team.
TEAM is the strong word, no promotion will take place unless everyone is on board. The board themselves need to make a decision are they ambitious enough to take this club back. Season Ticket sales will drop this season, clubs will lure our better players away back to the land of fortune which all results in a long-term haul back in the Championship (again).
Ben K says
A point I would make re your assertion that Saturday was different from other performances is that we scored a very early goal. That makes quite a big difference. The opposition have to change their gameplan almost immediately, and so on. Other than the last five minutes, the Forest game was very similar, and we were under a lot of pressure late on at Wigan. I can thankfully say that the pressure was withstood but perhaps Wigan don’t have the same cutting edge that forest do, perhaps the team/Adams learned something from the defeat at the City Ground.
There’s a book to be written about the collective mindset of Norwich supporters this season. We’ve swung so wildly between different extremes it’s difficult to keep up. Less than a week ago I tuned into Scrimmage and heard Iwan Roberts describe us a club in chaos, call the manager naive and Rob Butler speculate about relegation to League One. Now, on the back of a win over the team in 23rd place, people say it’s time to throw our weight behind Team Adams.
Nobody can predict for sure how the season will unfold. But, based on what has happened so far, we do know some things. The manager doesn’t know his best team or his best formation, some of the players want to leave and there are on-going disciplinary issues at the club. On the other hand, there is some genuine ability within the squad and in this league everyone is capable of taking points of each other. Based on this, I fear an eerily similar outcome to our last first season back in the Championship in 05/06 and a finish around ninth. I hope to be proved wrong.
Mike C says
Crikey Paul (3), not glass half full or half empty with you is it? More like – what glass?
“No evidence”, “no indication”, “non-existence”, “library”, “coaches falling out with each other”, players using the club for their own ends (who would’ve thought that), praising that lot down the road…
TEAM includes everyone, starts with the players, the board and across ALL the fans. Do you not think the board is ambitious? They invested enough in the summer. They sorted the “coaches” issue pretty swiftly. Are you ambitious enough or is your pessimism likely to spread across Carrow Road again this Saturday when the first pass goes astray?
No way are we out of the running for this league, long and arduous it might be, but when the going gets tough…
Dani Smeal says
I was as relieved by the 3 points as anyone but we were lucky to play Wigan at the right time. They have some very decent players but clearly the off-pitch rumblings around the owner and imminent FA ruling on Malky is affecting their squad. I should think Holty has no inclination to go back.
Add to that a half-empty stadium and there but for the grace of the almighty goes us or anyone else on a downward spiral.
I expect Holty to get a big positive reception on Saturday.
Stewart Lewis says
It was predictable that some would come on and say we played Wigan at a good time. For some reason I don’t recall – my faulty memory, no doubt – them saying that we played Bolton and Watford (among others) at a bad time.
Anyway, it underlines the – very reasonable – point that there’s still work to do and we need a series of good results, esp at home. Saturday would be a good start.
Dave B says
While our win on Saturday was a good one, you can only beat what’s in front of you after all, there’s a long way to go. Our club has been in a decline on the pitch for some time and it shouldn’t be a surprise that many fans have lost confidence in the board, manager, and players.
Adams has my full support, that doesn’t necessarily mean he as my confidence. That has to be earned and it’ll take more than a win at Wigan to do so. I expect it’s the same for many others.
“…I tend to overreact to defeats. We’re all guilty of that.” Speak for yourself. Short-termism is the enemy of consistency, which you bemoan the lack of.
“…the players appear to be using NCFC as an opportunity to put themselves in the PL as individuals…” How? By playing well? If so then long may it continue! Do you really think McNally will let the likes of Hooper and Howson leave in January? Are you finding negatives from GOOD performances? Get a grip man!
I think we’re a bit lucky to still be well in contention after such a poor run, but also unlucky not to have picked up a few more points. With that in mind, let’s make Carra Rd the cauldron it should be on Saturday. Huddersfield looked decent last week, but they’ve lost their last 3 aways, so let’s make them uncomfortable from the off.
It’s way too early to be throwing the towel in. Believe!
No chance of promotion while Adams is on the scene ,sack him and give Canaries fans the Xmas present most of them want .