Let’s not kid ourselves, Blackpool were shocking on Saturday and showed us exactly why they are bottom of the Championship. I would happily lay a fiver down and say a few teams in League One will give them the run around next season.
On the flip side, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and City did just that, with Gary Hooper putting in a thoroughly professional and workmanlike display on the way to his first hat-trick at the club.
I was pleased to be able to watch a weekend game at Carrow Road for a change, and when I saw the line-up it took me five minutes or so to try and figure out Alex Neil’s intended formation. As it turned out the 4-2-3-1 deployed worked a treat on the day but may be a bit too cavalier away from home when you’re trying to cement a place in the top six.
Gary (Gowers) mentioned Lewis Grabban’s performance in his post-match musings, but I do have to air my disappointment at his failure to score in the last two matches. Maybe I am being a tad too harsh, but for me if you are the sole striker at the tip of that kind of formation, you are expected to be putting the goals away. Especially against the poorest team in the division.
In the event, we took a good, solid away point in the 0-0 with Birmingham and Grabban, in a sense, was also let off the hook on Saturday as the man playing in the ‘number ten’ role bagged three goals in the tussle with Blackpool.
I am sure it is a combination of being a bit unlucky and probably just experiencing a lull in goal scoring form but you have to ask why he has had so much game time compared to Kyle Lafferty, who has been shipped out on loan to Turkey and was on the end of a 2-1 defeat to Besiktas at the weekend.
Is it his general attitude around Colney over the last few weeks? Or what? Because I am struggling to see why Grabban has got a free ride compared to Lafferty, who has shown what he can do as a centre-forward when performing on the international stage for Northern Ireland. We will let that one lie for now and pick it up again in four months’ time, when we can reassess.
On to tonight’s game at the Valley then, and a perfect opportunity to carry on the gentle ascent towards the coveted play-off places.
It will be fascinating to see what formation and line-up Alex Neil goes for against Charlton, who have slid all the way down to 19th since riding high before Christmas and doing an absolute smash and grab at Carrow Road in the infancy of the season.
For reasons stated above I would like to see Jerome spearhead the attack in a similar formation to Saturday’s ensemble. It will be a tough call though, especially with new signing Tony Andreu presumably itching to get involved more after tasting the action last week. Another tricky situation is whether to bring the mighty Alex Tettey back to add more muscle to the midfield. But who on earth would he replace?
If the Norwich fans travelling down to The Valley come back through the dark night sky with hope in their hearts and three points in the proverbial bag then it really will boost the confidence and set us on a roll going into a crucial game against fellow promotion hopefuls Wolves on Valentine’s Day.
Much like our own team, Kenny Jacket’s side have threatened to do good things in this league, only to continually go off the boil for a patch before slightly picking up again.
I think we are very capable of staying unbeaten in these next two or three games though, because in Neil’s post-match press conference on Saturday he made a point of highlighting how pleased he was with how hard the group are working as a whole. And I think that is the subtle point here; there seems to have been a degree more cohesion in recent weeks and that is what will help us across the line come May.
In contrast to our steady progress, incredibly Charlton have not won in the league since the 8th November and look shot to pieces confidence-wise. We are heading into The Valley on a roll, so let’s hope we can keep things ticking along nicely. I will be listening to Radio Norfolk’s commentary with great interest.