If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all…
If only that applied to those of us charged with writing about our beloved Canaries.
This one is going to hurt, just as did watching those 94 gruelling, morale-sapping minutes last night. Just as it did to wake to the realisation it wasn’t just a bad dream and City really did implode on a national stage on a day when a win was the only show in town.
Shades of Craven Cottage, May 2005. But in an empty, soulless ground.
Of course, there’s mitigation in the form of it being one of the most surreal Carrow Road experiences ever, and the fact this was the the first time in three months that any of the players had kicked a ball of in anger, but that then begs more questions…
- Why did Southampton look fitter?
- Why did Saints look hungrier?
- Why did they look better prepared?
It goes without saying that Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke will be asking themselves those same questions in the debrief, just as Stuart will, quite rightly, be banging the not too high, not too low and ignore the noise drums.
And he’d be right. Overreacting to such an evening helps no-one, just as it was best to avoid the patronising tones of Bill Leslie and Alan Smith as they tip-toed around ‘plucky, sweet little Norwich’ and the inevitable onslaught that will come from a certain talkSPORT shock jock.
This is a pickle of our own making and one that we either fix ourselves or take on the chin. After last night, I’m almost certain it will be the latter.
At this juncture I normally scratch around for a few positives, but other than Tim Krul looking his normal self, a bright cameo for Adam Idah and a few minutes on the pitch for Josh Martin there were none.
A bright-ish opening 15 minutes brought with it two gilt-edged chances – one for Tom Trybull, one for Josip Drmic – and both were missed due to a mixture of rustiness and lack of confidence. Both chances, had they have fallen to Danny Ings, would have gobbled up.
In fact, and I hesitate to say it, had those chances have fallen to Saints player, my gut tells me they’d have been converted.
But it wasn’t just in front of goal that City looked miles off – it was in every single department, and that includes team selection and game management.
Farke’s decision to go with two up two by plonking Drmic alongside Teemu Pukki was, on the face of it, a bold one and was met with a he’s-going-for-it type reaction. Few complained.
But it took 20 minutes at the most to see that it wasn’t working. Farkeball, at its very core, is about keeping possession of the ball and working it patiently and deliberately through the thirds. It requires good technicians and it requires the ball carrier to be offered options.
Last night, with two up front, there were fewer options available to Krul, Ben Godfrey and Timm Close as they attempted to break Southampton’s energetic and well-executed press. They couldn’t do it.
All too often, if the ball did make its way to the feet of Trybull or Kenny McLean they were crowded out after a single touch, neither able to find enough space or a City team-mate with their second or third touch. It was a tough watch.
It was a bold experiment, but one that failed and hopefully won’t be repeated. In hindsight – yes, it’s a wonderful thing – for the first game back after such a long break, it needed familiarity and a system the players could slip into easily, without having to overthink it.
Drmic, in his defence, must have showed something in training that led Farke to hand him the stripes but he did little to justify his manager’s faith. He looked like someone who’d played precious little football, even before lockdown, which is precisely the case.
Timm Klose too – playing of course because Farke had literally no other centre-back options – looked like a player who’d not kicked a ball in a league game for nearly 18 months, which, again, is exactly what he was.
Rusty doesn’t come close, but through no fault of his own. As the minutes ticked by, the difference between physical fitness and match fitness became ever more apparent, as Timm struggled, along with nine others, to live with the pace, power and verve of a Southampton team that couldn’t believe their luck.
A midfield minus Alex Tettey offers limited protection to the back four even on a good day. When that back four is already creaking that spells double-trouble, and when that midfield is a man light then we’re in perfect storm terrain.
Trybull may well offer greater flexibility when we have the ball, especially when given time and space, but under no scenario does he offer that midfield the same ballast Tettey does, and allied with McLean, whose natural instinct is to join in further up the pitch, we came up woefully short in that critical area of the pitch.
Yet another aspect that will form part of the Colney debrief.
But it was more than just a tactical and technical horror show – it was the lack of apparent desire and hunger that hurt most. In some ways, we can forgive the technical failings – we’ve known all along that, in that regard, we have the least well-equipped squad in the league – but the lack of grit and the acceptance of their fate was what made it such an uncomfortable watch.
Farke spoke bullishly on Thursday of the nine-game mini-series his team were about to embark upon as they sought to save their Premier League lives, but there was no evidence of that message getting through to the players.
It felt wrong. Few expected a performance of that ilk. If we’re to go down, we want to see it happen with pride and with spirit. This had neither, and it shouldn’t need 26,000 voices reminding them of their responsibilities.
But, however you spin it and whatever the mitigation, there looks no way back from here. The three-month hiatus has changed little including, evidently, the players’ on belief in performing this little miracle.
And they told us the return of football would boost our morale.
Cris Is says
An utterly dismal result. It would have been nice to keep some hope alive for a week or two, but that’s been stamped on and kicked lifeless into the gutter. Interest in the rest of the season now? None, zero, nil. And we’ll be hearing a lot of that last word in the next few games, immediately preceded by the words ‘Norwich City’. It’s been a disastrous season.
As for reasons why the spirit and performance was missing yesterday? The squad obviously didn’t believe the ‘little miracle’. The first thing that happens when confidence is removed from a team is that players start thinking about themselves rather than the collective. There is also the possibility one, two, or even three players have pre-contract agreements with other clubs already and that knowledge has seeped out into the dressing room. Possible, but not unlikely. Will Farke wish to continue if he has to sell players so young before we garner any benefit from them. What’s the point from his perspective? He is effectively running a surrogate youth team for the Premier League. As for looking positively to the future…
Perhaps next season in the Championship will be as good as last time?
Cyprus Canary says
In many ways this kind of performance in the championship would be punished just as severely.
Well done Gary. You really captured the soulless ness of last nights abject display. After 15 minutes We were second best In every third. In particular We are too one paced in the midfield and rely on the full backs to overlap
The trouble with 4 in midfield is we cough up possession too easily And the opposition at this level have the pace and quality to hurt you. We badly missed Tetteys strength and discipline.
It was reminiscent of Leeds at home last season when then overpowered us or Villa at home this season when the midfield disintegrated.
Leitner and Trybull are too slow and lightweight at this level – we need to invest in central midfield to take the pressure off McClean and especially Tettey who I believe Has one season left
Can someone tell me where Leitner actually was….???
I couldn’t even see that he was amongst the subs, and given how short of bodies, and awful how those bodies available played, he must really have done something very big, very wrong.
It was $hite….Championship next season is now a deffo, such a shame.
O T B C
Gary you’ve been as positive as you could be under the circumstances. Only Krul and Aaron’s came out of last nights disaster with any credit.
I didn’t think I’d say this two years ago but a City side without Tettey looks a complete shambles. Who do we replace him with?
People will be starting to question our fitness and training methods after looking second best last night without mentioning that we manage to injure players during lockdown.
On the bright side we may not lose too many in the close season. Aaron’s I expect to go as he’s now too good for this team.. Someone may take a punt on Cantwell as he has the skill set to thrive in a decent team and Pukki will always create interest.
The most telling comment last night was made by Roy Keane. He said “playing out from the back was fine but you need players who are good enough to do it“. All season we’ve given goals away by losing the ball away in bad areas trying to play out.
There seems to be no room in our game plan for playing the percentage.
I now wonder if next season are we going to be a West Brom or a Sunderland. I wouldn’t like to bet on it at the moment.
Having watch the first 15mins and so many city corners I had great hope for at least a point, but Southampton let city dominate the opening hoping that the head if steam would blow its self out and it did.
Can we do better come Wednesday well we need to just for pride.
During the game the camera panned to SW in the stand and he really didn’t look at happy man and you could see the cogs working overtime only time will tell what his thoughts were.
City Loan players that have returned aren’t allowed to be played this I don’t understand
1 with the loan clubs league either cancelled or finished then they return to city full time so from the 30th are back at the club
2 FIFA has said the 2 club rule has been cancelled to help clubs squads over this period
3 A loaned player can be recalled to bolster the parent clubs squad so why don’t city do that to help an ailing defence
I hope someone can explain this situation on loan players.
Last night we saw a team of professionals against a team of want to be’s and it looked like some had accepted the drop already and I didn’t think I would have every said that after last season’s effort is it confidence, lack of belief they can’t blame it on being tired.
Wednesday must really be a wake up call Everton will be trying to get revenge, but let’s hope that LIVARPOOL can knock their confidence
Onwards and upwards
Keep safe and well
Jim Davies says
Alex, returning loan players can’t play, as they were not registered in the 26 man squad at the end of January. There may be an exception to this, I’m not sure, if the player is a youth player, but then again, would you be wanting to risk them in the circumstances?
U23 and youth players are not counted in the 26 named players as I understand but could be wrong
Each season the Premier League lists the squads for each of its clubs for the season on 1 September (after the summer transfer window closes). Each club is able to list up to 17 senior players that are not English or Welsh and did not spend a significant period in an English or Welsh academy, plus any number of homegrown players up to a maximum squad size of 25, plus an unlimited number of academy and under-21 players.
Scott Royal says
Absolutely nailed it Gary. That was the worst we’ve played in 2 years. I can’t have been the only person to groan when I saw he was going with 2 upfront. Just unbelievable, because it meant much more knocking it forward aimlessly. And I love Farke as much as anyone, but at 1-0 down I was screaming at him to change it.
Buendia barely touched it after the first 20 mins. Vrancic the same when he came on.
Danny Kelly tweeted last night that Pukki, Buendia, Lewis, Cantwell, Aarons will be snapped up by a Prem side, which means that at heart we have a Prem side. But we haven’t. Nowhere near. And frankly, I can’t really see any of those players getting an offer worthy of their undoubted talent. It would be heartbreaking to see any of those end up at Burnley or even Southampton. To be honest, on that showing none of them will be anywhere
The “at heart we have a Premier League side” nearly summarises the issue to me – it’s the exact opposite. The heart of the pitch is where we’re lacking. Not one central midfielder has shown anything like being Premier League quality. I’d exempt Tettey from criticism, but we’ve had nobody in the centre of the pitch who can stamp their authority on the game, either defensively or offensively.
And without a functional central midfield which can break up play and feed our PL-standard flair players, those talents can’t shine and give us a chance to survive.
McLean, Vrancic, Stiepermann, Leitner, Trybull, Rupp and Duda frequently are no barrier to attacking players, and have managed 2 goals and 1 assist between them this season. Tettey is our best defensive midfielder, and a goal and an assist is also the best offensive return from a central midfielder this season.
It’s hard to be positive after last night and l won’t even try. It was the most abject performance I’ve seen from a City team in a long, long while and any hope l had that City could perform a miracle and avoid the drop has gone. It will be a miracle if we pick up one more point based on that display. Time for Webber and Farke to plan for life in the Championship. Some hard decisions to be made, and please don’t think, as Alex Neill did, that this lot can get us back up again.
Sums it up for me Gary. This grotesque season ground back into ‘action’ after its length disease break in front of an empty stadium. This performance got the attendance it deserved.
Many a reputation is tarnished after last night. the lack of fitness, concentration and motivation is the responsibility of individual players. The complete tactical disaster was Down to farke, along with the decision not to change things round at half time. While his halo slipped last night, it would be remiss not to mention the founder of the feast, the cook, who dealt him an outrageously poor hand last summer. One that he has repeatedly played poorly.
It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that little desire to stay up exists anywhere within carrow road. The glass ceiling is championship at best and this performance has underlined that.
The long lay off and subsequent closed ground at least allowed me to recoup some money on my season tickets, which I will spend on something far more deserving than delias hobby. Indeed having seen footballs sickening reaction to the epidemic it might be that many supporters of all clubs will call time on the whole thing.
the way city have conducted themselves on and off the pitch this season is sickening, cynical and makes a mockery of all the community stuff the revel in. It’s been a money grab, pure and simple.
Quite honestly, only the lack of 27,000 at carrow road last night saved the team from a much deserved verdict on their “efforts”. One doubts the towel would have been thrown in quite so readily if a hostile crowd had been watching on.
As for the rest of this season, just get the F’er over with. Replace all those yellow and green flags with white ones, they would be more in keeping with the ethos of the club.
Scott Royal says
‘the way city have conducted themselves on and off the pitch this season is sickening, cynical and makes a mockery of all the community stuff the revel in…’ how so?
Jim Davies says
Absolutely don’t understand Chris’s remark about City’s conduct. I can only conclude he’s a banner trying to stir up some mischief.
I’m referring to the chronic lack of funding, which has yet again hamstrung us and left us with a mountain to climb. Stockpiling money fpr the purpose of propping up the smith ownership. Obviously. Add to that the away season ticket furore and the gambling site emblazoned across the shirt.
Webber alluded to the fact that he was going to be working with the smallest EVER premier league budget in history. I honestly beleived there was a certain amount of hyperbole in this statement.
Unfortunately there wasn’t.
I’m not going to respond to the Ipswich comment.
Quite agree Chris. Delia has proven once again that she cannot afford to establish the club in the premier league.
During her tenure many clubs have attracted fresh finance and gone past us.
She seriously needs to reassess her position before we end up playing a lower league local derby.
Jim Davies says
Lack of funding is neither cynical, sickening or making a mockery of the community effort. It’s financial good sense. Fulham spent £11M on their last season in the Premier League, and they still got relegated. Spending does equal security. As for the community effort, the CSF is a separate, though connected, body to the club, and does an enormous amount of good, both in the development of potential talent, and in terms of “good” projects, such as their support of disability groups.
Some people’s dislike of the Stowmarket Two over-rides their common sense.
Craig A Bailey says
Godfrey isn’t a centre. Kenny McLean is not a CM, Buendia and Cantwell aren’t wingers and Pukki had no space to work as Drmic was lumbering about in his way!
Plenty of effort, but tactics and selection way off, deeply worryingly so! The lack of being able to see that and react has always been a concern.
Feels like Mo’s comments hurt because they were true, defensively we’re so weak all over the pitch. Needs Mo and Tettey in the middle and AMs playing in the AM role, not shoe-horned in!
I lost a lot of faith yesterday. Less so in the players and more in Farke, sadly.
martin penney says
Your point about Pukki and Drmic is spot on as I’ll concur with formally tomorrow.
I wrote the article long before I read your comment.
Hope you’re good.
Nailed it Gary – embarrassing sums it up. Two center halves 3/10 performance, a midfield like a handbrake on a canoe. Then there’s Emi – how many times has he gave the ball away this year and opposition has scored? Much more then he has contributed at the other end for sure. For me, he’s not the type of player we need in this situation – doesn’t keep the ball well enough in this league. He was fantastic against Wolves but other than that, he’s a hindrance rather a help. Trybull been same this season – weak and risky – and McLean wasn’t much better last night. Dreadful performance.
An embarrassing shambles trom start to finish,it began with a the ridiculous virtue signalling act of taking the knee and unbelievably got worse.
Farke and his coaching staff must surely come under pressure now. The very least we could have expected was a well motivated, fit and tactically organised team……we got none of them. The tired old excuse of no money should not make any difference to these three basic things.
Jim Davies says
Taking the knee was inevitable, given that all the other clubs are doing it. Why pick on that?
martin penney says
Taking the knee was inevitable indeed and I was genuinely delighted to see that both squads had “black lives matter” on the back of their shirts with only the NHS logo on the front, not the contentious BLM logo as well that was rumoured at one point.
Black lives DO matter even if some folks think the BLM movement itself is flawed and football achieved the perfect balance. Respect to all concerned.
Cyprus Canary says
Perhaps the rumours of a job in his native Germany have got into Farke’s Mind? Certainly this was a woeful performance by the players but also by the manager too. He simply doesn’t know how to change the course of the game when things are not working. The pretty football is thrilling when it works but give me a manager who puts fire in their belly anyday. The German brigade are weak to a man.
Jim Davies says
Good summing up Gary. It hurts to say it, but we were abject last night. There have been a lot of people calling for us to go two up front this season. Last night showed it didn’t work, though if Drmic had got his first touch right early on, it might have been a different game and result. Pukki also needed too many touches in the one opportunity he got in the second half.
With two centre backs who have played together hardly at all, if ever, we were always going to be suspect at the back. Playing two up front caused us to lump too many balls forward, and the mid-field was totally over-run. As others have mentioned, McLean, Trybull, and Buendia were caught in possession too often, or misplaced too many passes.
I’m thankful Krul, Aarons and Lewis had decent games, otherwise Southampton might have had 6 or 7. I was fairly confident of winning this one, but I was still expecting us to get relegated. I’m now certain we will. Hopefully we can recover some pride before we end this season.
Another one to add to our list of Premiership horror shows and sweet merciful Christ, it’s a bloody long list.
Some cold hard truths were brought home last night and 24 hours later I’m still in uncomfortable shock about I’ve just witnessed.
No composure, no quality, no tactics and no nous from anyone on the pitch or in the dugout – I even swore at the Deliveroo man as my take-away arrived during another Saints rampage.
Other teams can go from their box to ours in seconds and we haven’t learned how to stop this.
It was also interesting to hear the Sky pundits thoughts for a change. Instead of getting the usual patronising waffle ‘they play nice football’ ‘well run club’ etc Keane and Evra were equally perplexed from a neutral viewpoint.
Evra seemed genuinely astounded at how slow we are all over the park and Keane’s assessment that we don’t have enough quality players to play quality football at this level is hard to argue with.
Yes there are mitigating circumstances but is it too much to ask for a bit of fight at least?
A wretched lowpoint in a season full of them.
Stephen Godbold says
It was fairly obvious 15 minutes in that we were being overrun in midfield and I don’t understand why Farke and his coaches couldn’t see what those of us watching could see. We are so, so easy to beat – press us high and stop us playing through the lines and we have no plan b of any kind.
The team selection was brave, but with the lack of fitness clear (why is a good question) we were lucky to get to half-time at 0-0. I couldn’t believe he didn’t change the formation then – Tettey should have come on for Drmic at that point and we should have reverted to our normal formation, which would have meant Vrancic for either of Turnbull/Maclean at a later stage to try to push for the win. Like many thousands of others, I suspect, I was screaming that at the telly!
Cantwell and Buendia in the same team is always a gamble. It was like watching an under 8s team play against much bigger boys.
As for the second half performance – well, they pretty much gave up. They clearly have no faith in the system they are being asked to play. Roy Keane summed it up when he said we don’t have the players to play that system – they’re not good enough.
And still people think our “youngsters” are worth tens of millions!! Aarons was our best outfield player and Redmond made him look silly. We didn’t win one individual battle, not one.
I already knew we were going down – the Sheff Utd loss before the lockdown pretty much confirmed that this team doesn’t have the bottle – but this display makes me fear for next season too as it wasn’t even Championship standard.
Can you imagine what Man Utd will do to us next weekend?
Don’t know if I dare watch next weekend if last night was anything to go by.
Some great and honest comments above but I think that a different formation from the start would have made a difference. You can argue that the manager lost the game before it started. Once Soton worked out that they could easily run through our virtually non-existent midfield and our full-backs would generally be caught out too high up then the game was up. Truly shocking performance which could have been 6 or 7 but it was down to the formation. Not sure why we did this given the second half against Sheff Utd before lockdown using the same formation was pretty insipid and that was using the same formation. I do think we can grind out some results but we have to play using the system the players know – which we did not do yesterday. A disastrous experiment.
One thing we can’t do is grind out a result and that is a major problem – we have been defensively fragile for years.
Grind is a bit strong but we have won games using our normal formation – whereas we have not won a game with two up top.it would have made it harder for the Saints if we had 5 in the middle.
I have to say I’ve never known a season so bad for injuries ..my father watched the game last night and said we looked so unfit compared to Southampton in the 2nd half . I think the whole training regime has to seriously come into question this year and to be honest after a good rest from the game I think the manager needs to go there is something seriously amiss at the club now in my opinion .
Also the fact we haven’t been able to sort our defensive frailty either with signings or tactics or changing from zonal to man marking is very short sighted and not forgiveable in my opinion and that is aimed at both farke and mainly webber .
First things first. I did give up on the strike of the 3rd goal went in and did something else, quite relieved, that was an experience I am not too keen to relive, even with canned noise.
As to the changed rules, drink breaks and half a team of subs. City were not in the need of a drink breaks. it should have been several squirts of WD40.
If rustiness was the only problem, I would not be so concerned, as that will wear off after a couple of games. But I fear it was more than that. I expected to see some passion, some fight. some idea, take away the opening minutes, we were left with something that was akin to disarray . For me, Farke and his players look to have accepted their fate
I was always under the notion Farke produced a fitter and better-prepared side, but that looked a 100 miles away, the Saints simply looked sharper in every department. This was a team that got trounced 9-0 with the fans baying for the manager’s blood. they are still not one of the best sides, but plenty good enough to see off our weak effort.
There have been two times in recent seasons I saw something so lack lustre, one was from a crowded away section at Craven Cottage . The other was the almost team of loan players, and only one young man (Korey Smith) sweating blood before we slipped to L1.
Some of the squad will have on their minds, after having had a taste of the Premier League, not wanting to go down. I am sure the offers will roll in and thank goodness we have good contracts in place , not over a Barrell, to have to sell to stay afloat.
Lets see them go for it with some bloody passion and fight. what have they got to lose ?
What to say about this team?
They are capable of giving us such highs, think Man City and Spurs, and are also capable of that last night.
Before the game, I was very confident of not only winning that match but staying up as well, I was genuinely excited for the return. But not now I’m afraid.
We all love DF but he got it spectacularly wrong last night. To get out of this we will need to play to our strengths and that means Pukki up top with 3 behind. And Tettey in front of the back 4. It’s too late to change it all now. There’s no point keeping Duda if you are not going to play him.
Anyway, it’s still not too late and there is the Cup still to look forward to. I’m an eternal optimist where this club is concerned but my faith was severely tested last night.
Inside Right says
Too many players working their ticket? Who knows, but performances like that are not acceptable at any level. However, should we be surprised?
I would like to quote Richard Balls’ tweet. I’m not a fan of Twitter, as it is usually full of bile and misinformation, but he did hit the nail on the head with this:
“We have too many supporters who accept mediocrity and failure, who think the ‘Let’s Be Having You’ episode was something of which to be proud, who don’t care if we are in the Championship. They are part of the problem.”
You can see where the problem starts and look where it gets you.
Excellent comment inside R. And also Mr. Balls is spot on.
I wonder what the Newcastle fans would say if the pre season expenditure was £750,000!
City fans have set their expectations too low for too long.
Because I like many other people don’t agree with it and I am disappointed that a club I’ve supported for over 60 years have taken to showing support in this way for a at best dubious organisation
My reaction to taking the knee is as a well known American has said it looks like something out of GoT and it doesn’t help with politicians doing it to show backing for this so called movement I would be more behind it if it was All Lives Matter.
Racial abuse is when someone insults you and your country, Colour so not matter your origins it should be banned it has no place in any sport.
Football today gave us a little hope with WHU losing and Arsenal losing their keeper we can still believe in miracles roll on Wednesday
We must be the only club in the Prem that needed a defensive-midfielder in front of our two defensive-midfielders last night.
The format for yesterday’s game and the rest of the season had very little to do with professional football and it’s unfair to judge the club on what was more like a pre-season friendly.
We, more than any team have deserved the right for a full season under normal circumstances.
Before the break we had just started to compete consistently with the top teams and we had our best run for a long time in the cup.
It’s a sad and degrading end to a position that our players have worked so hard for and thoroughly deserved.
I cannot blame anyone at the club for the way things have turned out.
Johnny C says
Great team, great club , played badly on Friday . It’s happened before it will happen again . How easily we forget the wonderful season we had last year . Unexpected promotion meant we were always odds on to get relegated and so it has proved , but we’ve had some great times along the way .
Unbelievable that some are moaning about lack of investment in the current climate. Thank God Delia etc have kept the purse strings tight . I guess some would prefer risking bankruptcy or ownership by a Saudi Arabian Prince , but it’s not for me thanks .
Norwich have always been slow starters so to have 2 starts in one season , was always going to be an issue .
Onwards & downwards then upwards
michael c says
“We have too many supporters who feel entitled to be in the top tier, who expect success and , who think the ‘Let’s Be Having You’ episode was something shameful, who think the Championship is some kind of failure. They are part of the problem.”