Remember the term ‘Fortress Carrow Road? I still use it occasionally because FCR is useful in a 140 character limited tweet (pfft… so WWII – Ed), but it’s not really a thing any more is it? These days we seem as likely to win away from home as at ‘FCR’– a very ‘Un-Norwich City’ trait if ever there was one.
This of course is very nice if you’re one of the travelling faithful who over the years have clocked up thousands of miles more in hope than in expectation. Goodness knows we deserve it. For the most part this season, being on the road has been OK.
There have been some horror shows, not least last weekend, but when there is a derby victory tucked in there and a so nearly night at the Emirates it’s pretty damn good. Matches like those two remind the likes of me just why we do it.
So what exactly has happened to our home form? Going to stick my neck out here and say that I don’t think there’s been a great deal of difference in any of our home games this season, wins, lose or draw.
The first time I witnessed the Webber/Farke revolution was the Carabao Cup second round tie against Swindon in August. I was immediately impressed with the skill and technique on display, but worried that there was little end product. This carried on into the league games and the lack of home goals speaks for itself. A last minute equaliser and a 30-yard net buster can distort the impression of a game as you leave the ground, and you can end up thinking some of the games have been great when in reality they haven’t been too different from some of the mediocre ones.
To some fans a win is a good performance, a loss is a bad performance, and a 0-0 draw is boring. But for me the home matches have been much of a muchness. Lots of pretty pretty football with no end product. You can just about get away with that against the likes of QPR and Burton who seemed to be aiming at the same barn door as us – they both missed gilt edged opportunities at crucial stages of the games and we got out of jail – but as soon as you come up against a bit of quality like Derby and Wolves you will get punished and that’s what’s happened.
In just about every game we’ve started like a house on fire and threatened to blow away the opposition. We’ve hit the bar, hit the post, had great efforts saved and been guilty of some glaring misses. Never mind though, there’ll be lots more chances surely if we keep playing like this I kept telling myself. The goals are bound to go in.
But if I’ve learned nothing else this season, it’s to stop thinking that because increasingly it isn’t happening. The shots on target seem to dry up the longer the game goes on. I’m not sure if it’s a confidence thing, the opposition getting wise, or just us running out of ideas. The goals don’t come and once the crowd gets restless we look increasingly likely to draw a blank.
The much derided international break has given us a chance to address all of this of course. There will be much soul searching going on these two weeks on the fields of Colney about zonal marking versus man-marking, whether or not we have inadvertently loaned out the next Sergio Aguero to a lower league club, should we hurry back the injured players a bit sooner than we’d like, and countless other ideas born in the Bundesliga.
But I’m going to throw something of my own into the ring now. How about shooting the other way in the first half? Yes I know logic dictates it shouldn’t make any difference. As Grant Holt recently said during his very brief Kings Lynn cameo ‘The goals the same size wherever’. But it does make a difference, we all know that.
The Liverpool ‘We can suck the ball into the net’ Kop know it. The players know it. The Barclay and the Snakepit know it. Attacking the end where your noisiest most passionate supporters are gives the players a psychological boost and an edge, so why not use it when we need it most?
I can hear you all saying ‘Whatever difference will that make? ‘But what’s to lose?
And for all those rolling their eyes in exasperation, I give you Simeon Jackson 25th April 2011 Norwich v Derby …