Us Norwich City supporters are well known for our ability to give credit to the opposition where such credit is ostensibly due and that certainly applied to Vincent Kompany’s Burnley outfit on Saturday.
They are a bit of an anomaly in the Championship this season in that they are head and shoulders above every other team in the league, and I would include Sheffield United in that as the Blades have failed to impress me in the way the Clarets have.
For all Kompany’s mind games about injuries and illness raging through the camp before this match, he still managed to field as strong a matchday XVIII as Carrow Road has seen this season and I suspect will see for quite a while.
Even the happiest of clappers should surely give Burnley full credit for a streetwise and skillful performance like that, but we did our fair share in the jolly old aiding-and-abetting department and that’s for sure.
It fell to Dimi Giannoulis to make the excuses at full time and he was very diplomatic on the subject of yet another distribution howler from Tim Krul, which I rate as the keeper’s worst of the season against some pretty strong self-generated competition.
“Everyone can make mistakes,” the Greek international said. “We are all together and we try to let him [Krul] know that it’s all right. We have to keep going. The new manager has only been here for a few weeks so we need some time but if you have seen the games in the last three weeks then we have been good enough. When you play against Burnley it is not easy.
“They are a good team who press high so it’s not as easy against them. To be honest, we were not in a good shape today, especially in the first 20 to 30 minutes.
“We have really good characters in the dressing room and this is important because, otherwise, we wouldn’t be here playing good football after so many losses (earlier in the season). That is a good thing for all of us.”
I guess we might file Dimi’s comments under well he would say that, wouldn’t he? but there’s an element of truth in there somewhere.
Us supporters were surely not expecting to score four every week, were we? No, I didn’t think so.
A group with such a capacity for making individual errors is not going to eradicate that trait overnight any more than a team as clinical as Burnley will fail to punish them. They seem to press almost all over the pitch, which our centre-backs, and particularly Krul, always find hard to deal with when trying to play out.
Kompany knew that and exploited it to the hilt.
Krul has been a great servant to us and is understandably popular both in the dressing room and with supporters but I really think his time here is up.
It isn’t just the dodgy distribution. With set pieces and corners he has turned into Dracula mode, meaning he is paralytically scared of crosses. This is a relatively new phenomenon that has slowly crept up on him over the past 12 months or so. We need the return of a fit Gunny Jnr, and that right quick.
Marking at corners? Oh please don’t get me started on that topic. It is one area that has never even shown any tiny sparks of improvement and quite why so much aerial responsibility continues to be heaped on Max Aarons is beyond me. He just ain’t tall enough!
It would be easy to cherry-pick loads more gripes from Saturday but these are early days for David Wagner and his inherited squad. Personally, I am looking to next season to see how far we can progress – we do not have the cojones to prosper in the playoffs and for the first time in all these years of supporting NCFC I don’t particularly want to see us promoted.
An impeccable set of results this month against teams mostly below us in the table might change my mind but I doubt it. We would be annihilated almost every weekend by the Brightons, Brentfords and Fulhams of the Premier League [all three of whom have enjoyed excellent seasons alongside the big boys so fair play to them], let alone the money-merchants at the top.
Don Harold makes an outstanding observation in his thoughts from the Barclay:
“Well, at least we know where we stand. We’re miles behind Burnley but can do well against lesser teams. We have to hope there’s enough of the latter to keep us in playoff contention, but as we’re so far behind in quality I wonder what the point would be.
“Everyone will have seen Tim’s assist for their first goal and the non-defending for the others. A startling statistic told to me at halftime and repeated on the highlights programme, is that we have given away twice as many goals from unforced errors as any other team in the league. I don’t know where we would be if this wasn’t the case, but it must be addressed.
“It’ll be interesting to see where we are after the remaining games in a busy February. A playoff push or the acceptance of mid-table mediocrity?”
There will be more setbacks like this before the season is out, so this meisterwerk is most appropriate. One of my proudest “I Was There” moments.