This supporting a struggling team lark is hard work isn’t it. *Really* hard work.
So much to be impressed by, so much to admire, so much to be proud of, yet still we continue on a run so miserable it’s impossible to say with even a modicum of certainty that we’ll be displaying the Premier League moniker next season.
As a spectacle, and for the ol’ neutral, it was terrific entertainment – thrills, spills, a sprinkling of claret and all the fun of the fair topped off with a pantomime villain – but I’d give anything for a turgid, coma-inducing 1-0 win. Good performances are only really good if they produce points and right now the stats are just horrible, and certainly not worthy of repeating.
We’re in the mire, and that squelchy sound at around 9:40 last night was us sliding into the bottom three, yet but for some odd decision-making by the officialdom we could have emerged from the Chelsea wreckage with enough to just keep our heads above water.
Alas Lee Mason and his lovely assistants (‘M McDonough’ and ‘D Eaton’ in case you were wondering) saw fit to make the playing field anything but level… as if things aren’t difficult enough when facing an oligarch-funded bunch of world-class superstars.
It’s all a little too easy to blame officials – and I usually steer clear – but a steady accumulation of being on the wrong end of wrong decisions felt like it came to a head last night, even though it was Master Mason who inadvertently ignited a stunned and sterile Carrow Road.
I actually think we’ve had and seen worse than last night’s officials (although it didn’t feel like it at the time, evidence has since indicated that the controversial back-pass did indeed clip the heel of Cameron Jerome) and the decision to rule Diego Costa onside for the second Chelsea goal was, while plain wrong, one of those that relies on as assistant’s judgement (or in this case mis-judgement).
But, for me, what hurt most was that underlying feeling of the officials needing to connect with, appease and stay on the good side the Premier League ‘giants’. And always seemingly at the expense of little Norwich.
A joke with Cahill there, an arm around Hazard there and, the pièce de résistance, a ‘999’ for a slightly shaken Willain while ignoring the blood pouring from a two-inch gash on the forehead of Gary O’Neil and Robbie Brady who was minus his two front.
Not a deliberate act perhaps but one that summed up perfectly the deference shown by him and his colleagues to those perceived as the big boys in the playground. Like the younger, impressionable, scruffy kid at playtime who tries to hang out with the popular gang.
It’s not cheating, it’s probably not even intentional but it still leaves a rotten taste. And there can be little debate around the fact we have suffered at the hands of officials this season.
‘But it’ll even itself out over a season’ they tell us. No it doesn’t.
Yet, we didn’t miss out on a point last night just because of the inadequacies of the men in black. We also had our own inadequacies to blame, at both extremities of the pitch.
It’s been said many times over the last six months: missed chances at one end and poor defending at the other equals a recipe for a disaster. And on that score, for all the good that was on display, we did it yet again.
To concede inside a minute is unforgivable, whoever the opposition and whatever the occasion. To get caught in such a horrific, sloppy way while still holding our ‘shape’ was the very antithesis of what the doctor ordered.
Our record of winning games from a losing position is abysmal and last night we were ‘losing’ after 39 seconds.
The response however was pretty good and, ignited by said back-pass incident, Carrow Road eventually latched on to what eventually transpired to be a lion-hearted display from those in yellow, at the heart of which was a simply magnificent Jonny Howson.
Wes too had one of his very good days, Nathan Redmond also a tremendous second half and it was a testament to City’s desire and willingness to compete that in the Chelsea ‘engine room’ Messrs Matic and Fabregas were, at times, made to look second best – especially for long spells in the second half.
But – and we return to the deficiencies again – City were left to rue a couple of horrible misses from Cameron Jerome, who otherwise put in a tireless, lung-bursting shift to unsettle the usually composed Cahill and Ivanović.
Again, and it’s hard not to feel for CamJam given his appetite for the battle, they were to be so costly. To put them into context, had the same chances fallen to his counterpart in blue they’d likely have been gobbled up in the blink of an eye.
Back to those fine margins yet again.
But still there was much to admire and surprisingly the 3-4-3 had another quite decent outing; decent enough perhaps for it to be given a another outing on Saturday, and perhaps beyond.
The fight, desire and passion – all key components of a relegation battle – are still there and the last two games have indicated that if we are going anywhere it’ll be while kicking and screaming. And as fans that’s all we can ask.
The next few weeks will reveal if two other key components are going to reveal themselves: moments of quality and some good old-fashioned luck.
If, and it’s a sizeable IF, those two would care to join the party then this is not over. Not by a long shot.