If there was any doubt over the definition of frustration…
That the toys went hurling from the pram upon the final blast of referee Andy Davies’ whistle should have come as no surprise, but still I found it as irritating as the ‘booers’ clearly find that “tippy tappy crap across the back four”.
Of course it was disappointing. Of course we’d like, in an ideal world, to be swotting aside teams like Burton as if they barely exist. And of course dropping two points against the league’s so-called minnows who got hit for five on Saturday is no cause for celebration.
But football’s an inexact science. And right now this iteration of Norwich City is looking like an average Championship side. I remain hopeful, of course, that given time Team Farke will be able to engineer a decent side out of this new squad but while it’s a work-in-progress there will be evenings like the one we just witnessed.
There’ll be days when it clicks – as it did to an extent on Saturday against Birmingham – but there’ll be others where the side looks a little disjointed; as if it is a new team, learning to play a new style, with several players who are experiencing Championship football for the first time.
Last night was one of those. I can’t claim to have enjoyed it – few people would have – but it was one of those evenings that defines what it is to be a Norwich City supporter.
We’ve all been here before. Team from the depths pitches up at Carrow Road just as our star is starting to rise and fails to read the script. Said strugglers then proceed to frustrate the hell out of everyone in yellow and green and depart the fine city with a point, sometimes three.
That Burton had lived up to their name last Saturday and went for one merely added to the inevitability of them getting something from last night’s game.
Yet it could have been different had Josh Murphy found the net when encountered with the whites of Stephen Bywater’s eyes – such is the fine line between success and failure – and for all the paucity of quality if Josh had scored we’d have been lauding it as a case of getting job done without playing well.
But, not for the first time, Bywater did everything in his power to heap misery on a Carrow Road crowd, by both fair means and foul, and departed the fine city with the last laugh. The ‘job done’ refrain was Nigel Clough’s for the evening and it’d be unfair to dismiss their defensive efforts as fortunate given what unfolded on their patch at the weekend.
On the night we weren’t good enough. On Saturday we were good enough and we all went home happy.
Questions have naturally been asked over Daniel Farke’s decision to retain the Trybull/Tettey defensive shield – something questioned pre-kick off by a fellow RiverEnder who queried the need for two defensive minded midfielders, particularly against the backdrop of Tettey’s iffy knees and potential importance at Bramall Lane on Saturday. But he clearly wanted to build on last Saturday’s win and keep the changes to a minimum – Wes for James Maddison being the only change – with continuity uppermost in his mind.
As it transpired it all unravelled quite early on with an opening so insipid and lacking in tempo it made the mascots introductions to the crowd look positively breakneck.
And, as those who have played the game will know, once the die is cast in terms of momentum it’s hellishly hard to lift it. It’s very easy to allow the tempo and intensity to dip but to increase it from an almost stationary start is very tough indeed.
It took the River End precisely six minutes to blow its lid at said “tippy tappy crap across the back”; Angus being berated for not hoofing it long and both centre-backs being ridiculed for passing it back to him. But on this occasion I’m on dodgy ground in trying to defend it (although I desperately want to) given that there did appear a lack of purpose and oomph to the passing in the first half.
The second half was better, certainly in terms of purpose, but it really was one of those that had 0-0 written all over it. And there is no hiding the fact it was one where earlier changes from the bench would have likely had positive impacts, even without the benefit of hindsight.
Alas, a 0-0 against Burton courtesy of a below-par performance was sufficient to trigger the direction of travel arguments. Twitter was awash with folk bemoaning far more than the performance, rather more the long-term destiny of the club, yet it’s one that wouldn’t have even been occurring if we’d scraped a 1-0.
That the squad is weaker now than it was 12 months ago is hard to contest but saddled with one that was riddled with over-inflated salaries and egos some serious cloth cutting was required. The upshot is a new squad, an inexperienced squad and one that, in reality, was unlikely to hit the ground running.
The big question is whether the current coaching set-up has the wherewithal to to transform this squad into one that’s competitive at Championship level and, despite some loud and unequivocal Twitter dogma that blew following last night’s final whistle, I think it’s still too early to judge.
My powder is staying dry. On to Bramall Lane.