Instead of a nerve-steadying three points at Carrow Road against Middlesbrough on Saturday, we were served up another four weeks of angst and anxiety concerning our beloved City between now and a trip to play Russell Martin’s Swans on December 10, thanks to a soul-destroying but ultimately deserved 2-1 defeat.
So it will doubtless be a case of same old, same old when it comes to football chat over the coming month. This is something that MFW readers and writers will either enjoy or endure, depending on their various levels of tolerance and perspective I assume.
As Tim Ball and Gary Field’s excellent articles showed last week, we all have our own views on the standoff between the Club and the local media, especially concerning the recent AGM.
Will this issue be resolved over the World Cup break?
Dean Smith’s popularity seems to have reached rock bottom with an ever-increasing number of supporters wanting shot of him during this perfect opportunity offered by the World Cup hiatus.
Will we be saying farewell to S&S?
Nah, but this time I at least know why: Stuart Webber is not even contemplating getting rid of them as his head’s too big, and his available compensation wallet is too small.
Will Anthony Richens be apologising to supporters for his ill-thought-out remarks about our collective lack of commitment to the cause?
That’s another nah from me I’m afraid.
My Canary friends never let me down when it comes to some original expressions and wry observations and Saturday proved to be no exception, with them probably hitting a zenith to match the nadir of Smith’s popularity rating.
I didn’t bother listening to Chris Goreham and Jeremy Goss on Radio Norfolk all the time, dipping in and out as I often do, and thus missed this gem from Gossy: “We saw a very good Norwich for 30 mins. Then a very poor Norwich for the rest of the game.”
The apparent lack of fitness in the squad was a major issue for all of us, with a couple of the guys lamenting the disappearance of Daniel Farke’s “two sessions a day, one for general fitness and one for tactical awareness” approach. Even a few of the players have asked for extra sessions by all accounts – and been turned down.
Boro outran and outmuscled us for almost an hour and if that doesn’t show that something is fundamentally wrong then what does?
Smith himself seems predictably uncertain as to why our fitness levels are not at the races, saying afterwards:
“For some reason for 15 minutes either side of half time we looked lethargic and lacked a bit of energy.”
For some reason? Surely it’s in your job description to know the problems and at least try to eradicate them, Dean?
A few random observations include that if Coventry were to win one and draw one of their games in hand over us they would leapfrog us in the table, and while we still – somehow – remain in fifth with what seems a miserly 32 points from an available 63, there are four teams below us on 31 points.
Ominously Watford have overtaken us and although they too are blowing hot and cold, I am not too sure we will rise above them again.
Consensus, articulated in this case by Bernie O, was that we neither go wide and cross nor penetrate centrally with any pace. We should have been out of sight in the first 30 minutes but after that we became pedestrian and very, very predictable.
We can still get promotion in the sense that while the points are available we have a chance, but right now I do not know a single soul who thinks that we will be celebrating anything in May other than a season that flattered to deceive and burned out in mid-November.
The final word goes to Don H, who reckons:
“The first half was very good. We dominated possession and looked dangerous going forward. Our USMNT World Cup hero scored an excellent goal and the team collectively created enough good chances to win two games.
“Half-time came and presented the chance for S&S to inspire the team to victory. Quite how they went about this is beyond me. I’ve seen the word ‘passive’ used to describe many of our displays and I can’t think of a better one to describe City in the second half.
“Boro dominated and, after only a month in charge, Carrick has coached them into a team where everyone seems to know their job and play with flair.
“Smith, after a year at the helm, has yet to address many of the problems he inherited.
“So off they go to Tampa Bay, Florida, for ‘warm weather training’. I hope they enjoy it.”
From Carrick to Carrack. This guy has been around the block as much as Dean Smith, enjoying stints with Ace [How Long], Squeeze, and Mike & the Mechanics as well as a soulful and successful solo career.
Maybe he had NCFC’s faltering efforts to escape the EFL Championship at the right end in mind when he recorded this: