Norwich City are nothing if not predictable.
On that basis, here are five things that we already knew following the trip to Tyneside.
Substitutions change matches but not always in a good way
Hindsight is a wonderful thing – but so is my new vacuum cleaner – and neither will help to change the result at St James’ Park.
However (with hindsight) the decision to replace Jacob Murphy with Ryan Bennett was a poor one.
In principle, having that extra body in the area should have improved the chances of parking the proverbial bus. In reality it seemed to cause confusion as to who was doing what and who was meant to be picking up the opposition.
More importantly with Murphy’s departure, we effectively lost our outlet and the ability to retain possession higher up the pitch – little or no chance to reorganise or use up precious seconds.
Every time the ball was cleared, it was quickly being sent back towards our goal, leaving us to retreat into our final third and invite the Geordies to break us down.
Which they did.
Last season’s trip to Newcastle was another car crash; a 6-2 defeat which owed much to the tactical withdrawal of the defensive shield provided by Alex Tettey.
Following the game, Alex Neil admitted that it had been a mistake and subsequently changed his whole approach and game plan.
Time will tell how he will respond to this latest mugging on Tyneside but as for the rest of us, we’ll just have to suck it up and move on.
So perhaps my new vacuum cleaner will help after all?
Jacob Murphy currently has a Midas touch
As one-half of Norfolk’s favourite twins left the pitch, so our chances of grabbing a decisive goal went with him.
Jacob is currently enjoying the sort of purple patch that owes as much to good fortune as it does to good form.
True – he’s playing with a freedom and confidence that is a refreshing joy to watch but his last three or four goals would suggest that someone somewhere is smiling on him.
Whether it’s Adam Bogdan drifting off to sleep and presenting him with an open net, or the deflected efforts against Burton and Newcastle, everything he touches is currently ‘turning to goal’.
It won’t last. Sooner or later the deflections will take the ball out into touch instead of looping over the keeper into the net. We need to enjoy it and take advantage whilst we can.
Besides, we’ve got ‘another one’ to bring on when the goals start to dry up.
Sometimes it’s OK to get angry
We all know that there are pockets of the Yellow Army who need no invitation to go into a full meltdown. The doom-mongers; the pant-wetters; the end-of-the-world-is-nigh(ers); those who love to tell you just how bad things are.
Except this time, they were fully justified and entitled to go ‘medieval’.
To be winning in the 94th minute and end up losing (to your main rival for promotion) is simply unforgiveable.
Throw in the fact that we’ve got ‘previous’ when it comes to blowing a 3-1 lead and losing it all in the final seconds and that’s more than enough to send even the most reasonable fans over the edge.
True, it’s ‘only’ football and in the grand scheme of things, we should all remember that life is too short to get that worked-up. But when has common sense or reason ever applied to being a football fan?
It’s our passion and on this occasion, the outpouring of frustration and anger was entirely justified.
Our defence has more holes than Swiss cheese
After the Burton game, Alex Neil highlighted that Burnley had “won 1-0 about 12 times” on their way to promotion.
Good for them.
We currently have fewer clean sheets than there are in your average student residence.
It’s easy to pin the blame on the usual suspects but the fact is whatever combination of players has occupied our back-four, the defence still looks brittle and prone to lapses of concentration or complete incompetence.
All of which means that we are regularly conceding sloppy goals and matches in which we’re cruising become unnecessarily tense because we gift the opposition a way back into the game.
During the Burton game, I was reminded of when I tried playing FIFA against my son on the PlayStation with very little idea of the controls or what each button did.
Watching the players hack and slice the ball in all sorts of random directions, mis-place passes, mis-judge headers, we were even treated to the mis-timed keeper rush off his line that let the striker waltz past him.
(You hold the triangle button to pull that off for those who are interested).
In the Premier League and at Newcastle, our defensive short-comings were horribly exposed and punished.
In the Championship we are getting away with it – just.
10 down, 36 to go
The league wasn’t won at Ewood Park. Neither was it lost in Birmingham or Newcastle. We still have close to an entire Premier League season’s worth of fixtures left to play.
There will be more disappointments to come but perhaps we can console ourselves that few will come close to the gut-wrenching, kick in the nuts that was delivered last Wednesday night.
But the fact is with 10 matches played, we’re averaging 2 points a game and no matter how disappointed we currently feel, the supporters from 22 other Championship teams would happily swap places.