Our first foray back into the Premier League is done and dusted and all I can simply say is, I’m furious. The performance that we put together was fantastic, albeit not without its faults, and we are far from deserve to be sitting at the foot of the table on the first day of the season. I want to address a few points, most notably the referee, which may be more akin to a rant, Lewis Grabban and the number one caller on Canary Call.
Simon Hooper, a referee who had never before officiated a Premier League game struggled throughout, and really we should have seen it coming that he would make a poor decision that would decide the outcome of the match. It’s difficult to find a way of defending his performance when you look at his approach to the fouls early on in the game, his failure to book Glenn Murray and the two game-changing decisions in the final third of the game.
Cameron Jerome’s denied goal was something which, with Norwich glasses on, only seems to happen to us and sadly it is something we will have to get used to over the coming season. The penalty appeal is something I have not yet had the opportunity to see again but from how I saw it – from the Jarrold Stand – and reaction from those who have been able to see it again, I have a sneaking feeling we were robbed of the opportunity of a spot kick.
An hour after the game and after a period of reflection I have decided he didn’t have an entirely bad game – but only measured against his own standards. Compare that to what you would expect from a Premier League striker and I would have to argue he didn’t offer enough over the game to warrant another start and I also have my doubts that he will be able to prove himself at the highest level.
Aside from the obvious where he missed an early sitter, Grabban didn’t offer enough in and around the box, especially when Robbie Brady and Steven Whittaker made bursting forward runs to put in crosses. Also, with the ball at his feet Grabban looks like he struggles to see the space to take defenders on and have the skill to cause them problems.
With our current strike-force I would prefer to see the following hierarchy; Cameron Jerome, Gary Hooper, RvW and then Grabban. I’m sure many will argue that Ricky should be bottom of the pile and I would be interested to hear some thoughts on that.
Where do I begin with him, “Alex Neil is out of his depth”, Rob Butler presses “Would you sack him?” and he mumbles an unconvincing “yes”, where did this opinion come from?
Little over two months ago we were celebrating one of the greatest days in Norwich City’s recent history, a day that may never have happened if Alex Neil wasn’t appointed when he was and 90 minutes into the new season there are fans willing to throw him out? Unbelievable.
I, hopefully, will have the majority of Norwich fans back me up on this but I would give Alex the guarantee of two seasons regardless of whether we are relegated this season or not. All too often the first reaction is to sack the manager when things aren’t going to plan but it is clear that the players respond to his methods, respect him and strive to win football matches under him.
Where do we go from here?
All in all, we put in a very positive performance and this season will be far from the dismal performances of the Chris Hughton era. With the unlikely assumption that we make no more additions, our side will inevitably struggle and safety may hang in the balance but I am confident that under Neil’s guidance we will be enjoying Premier League football this time next season.
We clearly need a centre-back who is going to be able to cope with the likes of Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa. Similarly, at the other end of the pitch we need a proven Premier League striker that is going to be a threat and score us 15-20 goals this season.
The away trip to Sunderland will be extremely important and if we come away with at least a point and we’ve replicated our performance of today, and offer a more clinical service up front I have no doubts that we will come away with our first points on the table.