I only write when we’re winning!
It seems I am officially a fair-weather writer when it comes to Norwich City. I see little point in shouting out needless negativity, especially online. While your team is struggling, that’s when they need motivating and praise the most… right?
Anyway, we stopped that losing streak against Swansea. We won! And it’s time for another dose of yellow and green positivity.
The new tactics we’ve witnessed from Alex Neil in the last two games aren’t necessarily negative. We were desperately unlucky to not come away from the Ethiad with a point and Saturday’s three points provided an insight into how this approach can work.
The two midfielders shielding our defence means when the likes of Nathan Redmond and Matt Jarvis come back from injury, it’ll be a stroke of genius. It’s only going to get better. They will be able to provide the blistering pace and directness to our game which could tear teams apart.
I certainly disregard any ‘Hughton’s style of football’ comments. Nothing will ever compare to that. Nothing.
Mbokani vs Jerome
Will this debate ever end? I have to say, this weekend has swayed me off the fence and into the Congolese corner. Cameron Jerome is a very useful striker to have but Dieumerci Mbokani’s ability to turn off defenders and his sheer presence makes him the main man for me. When Alex gave him the opportunity against Swansea he did the business yet again, providing the assist for Jonny Howson’s goal and completely changing the complexion of the game. Swansea’s passing machine was immediately on the back foot and looked much more shaky at the back. His intelligent runs and ability to stretch the opponents back line is something that even the best will struggle against. He’s only just starting to get the credit he deserves.
Robbie Brady has had an instant impact in yellow. It just shows what spending a bit of extra cash can do. By far the most reliable, robust player in our squad so far and I’d already go as far as saying he’s got my vote for Player of The Season. The guy just oozes quality, strong on the ball, puts a solid challenge in and his attitude is first class. My favourite player has changed… apologies Tettey!
I thought the captaincy appointment was another clever decision from Alex Neil. He is respected and gets on with the whole squad. He’s clearly liked just as much by the players as the City faithful. You can’t not like the man, can you?
I can’t write about Norwich City and not talk about our defence. As much as I like Russell Martin, if our current line-up pulls off another clean sheet against Chelsea, he’ll struggle to get back into this team. Ryan Bennett is getting better every week and I’m happy he’s getting a good run of games now. Bassong also looks back to his best; even though I’m not always an admirer of his laissez-faire and calm approach.
Ruddy or Rudd?
I initially thought Big John had got a touch on the ball to tip one over at the weekend, however I was proved wrong. He literally had nothing to do deal with all afternoon. So my opinion remains the same, Declan Rudd should be given a chance for the number one spot.
After the international break it’s Chelsea. For me, this is another Manchester City-type fixture. Although many fans and pundits aren’t backing them and have been highlighting their poor run of form, it’s essential we approach the game in the same way as we did at the Etihad; approaching the game with caution, not conceding in the first half, silencing the blue plastic flag wavers. If Norwich pull it off, the away supporters could well be in for a real treat. And don’t forget, City almost always beat one of ‘the big boys’ during the course of a Premier League season.
This is the magic of following Alex Neil ‘s boys in yellow. As we come up against the reigning champions of England, regardless of the previous result, I am full of hope, optimism and pride.
Please also take a moment to stop and reflect. Look where our delightful next door neighbours are…
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisReevo
Toby Belch says
Nice one Chris. A win always breeds new hope and positivity after a poor run of results but the run in to Christmas is a toughie. Hope to see your next piece on here soon!
Re: the strikers – it’s invariably easier to make an impact coming on late against a tiring defence than it is from the start of a match. Jerome did it well last season off the bench. I think it’s a toss up between the two to start at Chelsea.
Re: defence – to be fair to Martin (and Whittaker), Neil didn’t set the team up like that while they’ve been playing! Clearly, we were more compact which gave the defence more support against the Barcelona-like passing Swans.
Re: Howson – his scoring with a header has to be as rare a sighting as the Loch Ness monster?
Stewart Lewis says
Fair points, Chris. I’m not worried about ‘Hughton style of football’ becoming the norm; it’s clear that AN will select horses for courses.
However, I don’t quite see your logic that Ruddy had nothing difficult to do on Saturday so he should be dropped. It’s clear that he has the support of the players and manager – shouldn’t he have ours too? When you’re under pressure as he was on Saturday, even the routine things become a challenge; he showed the character to keep them routine.
Woodton Canary says
This was a game that AN clearly decided we were not going to lose. I was surprised at the negative comments I heard at half-time given that we had lost four league games on the trot. Whilst it wasn’t a particularly entertaining game, I thought it was a bit like watching chess and was fascinating to see the tactical battle evolve on the pitch.
I agree it’s Mbokani over Jerome for me. Mbokani just seems to be able to provide that little spark that Jerome does not.
After this game I’d play Whittaker over Wisdom. Wisdom didn’t have a bad game but there were a couple of forward runs that Wisdom just couldn’t make that I thought Whittaker would have anticipated a bit better.
I’m sure that AN will tweak his team for the Chelsea battle. I don’t think that will mean a return to the 3 CB’s. I’m glad to see Bennett gatting a run of games. He’s always been a bit unlucky with injuries but him and Bassong did very well and I thought looked very comfortable.
Cambridge Don says
Agree that Brady has been a star for us and would grace any of the top 6 sides. My fear would be one of those clubs will be sniffing round next summer.
I just hope that he and Wes return to Norfolk mentally and physically unscarred after their Euros playoff games.
Tettey and O’Neill were key to the win but I hope Mulumbu finds a regular place. With Dorrans and Howson too, arguably we have the strongest midfield of any lower half team – if they can chip in with a few goals, then we should be able to stay out of trouble.
But interestingly regarding Chelsea he might do something different … how is master-tactician Mourinho going to know which Norwich to set up for, since we’ve played completely different shapes the last three games?