Are you sitting comfortably after Saturday? (no, me neither). In the mood for a short story? Then I’ll begin…
The Chiller at the Villa will go down in City folklore as a thoroughly put-downable script in the continuing adventures of our favourite ‘heroes’.
It was a grim and soggy tale with weak characters and a miserable ending. At least a prince and his prime minister will have enjoyed the outcome.
Following on from Away with the fairies at St. Marys, Things implode at Vicarage Road and A right pig and a poke in Stoke, the latest chapter in a catalogue of terrible away performances has seemingly brought the club and its fans to a tipping point.
Everyone and his dog has given their opinion of what needs to change and who needs to do it. Of course I think I know the answers too but really I haven’t got a clue. I’m happy to let the professionals sort it out.
I have no idea of our best line-up or formation – that’s what Alex Neil and his coaching staff get paid for.
Who can remember the ups and downs before the turn of the year, some good battling wins and looking on the up after the back-to-back victories and clean sheets?
All seems a long, long time ago in a far away land right now doesn’t it.
Of some of the more outlandish ‘advice’ offered up from Twitter-land is to sack the manager and bring in Brendan Rodgers! I think that was a serious suggestion… but it made me giggle.
For what it’s worth, my suggestion is not to sack the manager but for some brave person – perhaps Frankie McAvoy or David McNally – to have a word in his ear and advise him to go back to trusting his instincts and stick to the courage of his convictions.
All great generals take advice from their trusted charges.
What we all want to see again is the team playing as a unit with pace and passion, the basics – defending, passing, crossing and shooting – done well and some feel-good factor coming back to replace the toxic fumes which plagued the last Premier League campaign.
Our new loanee Patrick Bamford was drawn to come to Norwich for the rest of the season because of limited opportunities at Palace but more specifically because of the “total football” which he saw first-hand at Wembley.
He’s right. We did play that way but not recently. Not since Alex decided to take the fork in the road marked ‘time to adapt’.
It pains me to point towards the south coast and Eddie Howe, but after a sticky start from the Cherries (heavy defeats and knocked confidence – ring a bell?), he was faced with that same stark philosophical choice: stick to what you know and has brought success, or change to suit.
Howe stuck to his guns and has been vindicated in that decision.
From this Canary’s perch, it just feels that Alex has got over-analytical of late. He’s not become a bad manager. He is inexperienced at this level but experienced managers get teams relegated too – Steve Bruce for one.
Right now, on form, we are the worst side in the division. All of the stats say so and that’s the way it feels after making a terrible Villa side look half-decent.
All is not lost though. It felt that way over the weekend but there are plenty of points up for grabs and we have to go grab ’em. Sorry, that’s as in depth as I’m prepared to go.
It can be done and was done last season when the current league leaders were bottom into April. They trusted and stuck with the manager as we must do.
It requires sturdy characters, calm heads, strong stomachs and big b***s from here on in to avoid slipping back into the Championship crevasse.
The next chapter of the story against a very tough West Ham will go some way to revealing if Alex has managed to get everyone reading off the same page.
Gary Field says
Russell – I think you’ve missed out a chapter, “Bombed out in Bournemouth” from your list of away day woes!
Perhaps that’s because they seem to merging into a continuous tale, which is rapidly turning into a nightmare?
Time for someone, somewhere, to step forward and show some leadership. A captain maybe ????
Julian Roberts says
Azores Canary says
Indeed, Russell. The professionals MUST sort it out, and PDQ. As supporters, we are quite entitled to voice our opinions, it’s us that make the club after all.
I believe AN is starting to lose the dressing room. He has started publicly blaming individuals in front of the media. For instance, Declan Rudd came under attack for his mistake – probably the first the poor chap’s made since he replaced the inept and very unprofessional Ruddy. If Declan is dropped for that one mistake, the Tinker Man will start giving me real cause for concern.
Based on what’s going on, I am looking at Championship football next season. Good passionate English football, a local derby, and a chance to win something. My main fear is that our talented but mis-managed group will walk, leaving us with a few ageing diehards who are happy to see out their days in Norfolk. Then we’re stuck.
DMcN’s business plan from several years ago budgeted for one relegation and two promotions. I wonder if we’re about to fail that business model. It could be a long drop if we do.
In the meantime, OTBC, and pray hard!
Russell S. says
Gary F: I couldn’t think of anything suitable to rhyme with Bournemouth or the Cherries. Besides, there were mitigating factors for that loss i.e. second away game in 4 days after playing an hour at Stoke with 10 men. Who would be your Captain Fantastic?
Azores: To be fair, young Dec has made a few bloopers of late (penalty at Spurs, at least one versus Liverpool..) – it probably is time to go back to experience between the sticks. We’re on a horrible run but I don’t think it’s quite the gloomy picture you paint. We’re not cut adrift – there’s still time and games to recover. If the home atmosphere turns any colder, then it could be curtains. Team needs the fans more than ever right now.
Stewart Lewis says
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubt, while the stupid people are full of confidence”.
Russ has just given us another illustration of Bukowski’s words. Over the past few days City fans have given us many diagnoses and solutions, of varying silliness but always expressed with conviction. Now we have Russ, admitting he doesn’t know what formation we should play. But he hits the nail on the head about our problem. Alex Neil has become over-analytical and needs – with help from the sensible heads around him – to stop and see the wood for the trees.
I reckon he will.
Gary Field says
@4 Russell – it has to be Howson as captain for me. Despite being played out of position he’s the only one who has shown leadership on and off the field and consistently emerged with any credit from his recent performances
Bang on! In contrast to Eddie Howe, Alex Neil lost his way tinkering to accommodate opposition, injuries and suspensions. He appears even more confused than whichever bunch of disparates he shoves out for the next game. That said, I’d stick with Alex Neil because he and squad may need to touch Championship base yet again in order to rebuild. However, rebuild will benefit from ditching players with Premier League (relegation) experience!