It’s a fine old line to tread.
The difficult one of deciding whether to give credit where it is due to a pretty average side – and promotion rival, in this craziest of EFL seasons – for doing a job on us, or to charge in with all available weaponry and rip our own side to shreds for producing an inept display lacking so much of the fortitude and guile we saw on display in South London last week.
For me, it was a devilish combination of both coming together at Carrow Road on Sunday, and we even managed to throw in an ACN moment just for good measure as Abdoullah Ba, aged just 19, scored his first-ever competitive goal for Sunderland.
Whatever some people may choose to have said about it, their injury list was a lengthy one, and Leeds loanee Joe Gelhardt’s panicked blast against Angus Gunn from the very closest of range when put clean through by Dan Neil confirmed that they did indeed play with no strikers on the pitch.
They restricted City to a few shots, and I can’t recall any one of them carrying a genuine threat as Black Cats’ keeper Anthony Patterson had so much downtime that he could have Skyed the game on his phone.
And all this coming after three straight three defeats which ended with a 5-1 drubbing from Alex Neil’s Stoke City at the Stadium of Light in the week
All major criticisms have already been made, so I’m merely going to mention a few of my “favourites”:
- First and foremost the referee. Once again. This time it was Tim Robinson, a founding member of the Late Bookings Society.
- A five-year contract for Adam Idah, The poor young soul looked completely lost all of the time. Andrew Omobamedele and Liam Gibbs I can understand, but what exactly does the Club see in the young Irishman that I can’t?
- And surely we don’t want every other club in the EFL next season to be saying: Norwich are rubbish when their South Americans are having a bad day?
I appreciated what Tony Mowbray said afterwards, so I’ll let him off his none-too-subtle trumpet-blowing on this occasion:
“There’s no one way to play football, and yet Norwich give you a chance to press them, and if you nick it off them 30 yards from goal, you’re generally just one pass away from banging it in their net.”
Ouch – the truth can hurt.
David Wagner didn’t actually say it was a cr@p performance [how realistically could he?] but his thoughts were obviously veering in that direction:
“We have to make sure that we’re independent from opponents and how their setup is. We have to make ourselves independent from what we can’t influence.
“We have to stick to our principles, stick to our idea, play our football, and this is not what we did [against Sunderland]. This is how we’d like to go forward and what we have done in the past much better than today.
“After the 15 minutes we played before the goal, we were not good in ball possession, not quick enough in moving or passing.
“Then we conceded, and then obviously it doesn’t get better. We were still confident that we could turn it at half-time.
“Second half we were better in terms of energy and intensity. The players really tried it, but without clear-cut chances or playing in the right areas.”
After his recent reconversion, all Angus Gunn needs now is his formal selection by the SFA as first choice keeper in order to activate his inheritance of the chant of “Scotland’s Number One” left vacant all those years ago by father Bryan who will, I’m sure, be absolutely delighted when all is formalised.
“I know one of their [Sunderland] players and I was gutted after the game, but he was talking about how crazy the Championship is this season. If we win the next two games then we could be in the top four – you never know.
“Like the manager has said, we never get too high with the wins and we won’t get too low with the defeats. We need to concentrate on putting things right but we can’t get too disappointed with it.
“It was a good opportunity today and it seems that when those come along we slip up, which is the most annoying thing.
“Hopefully we can get the timing right with our push and get there by the end of the season.”
Gary said on Friday’s match preview that he wasn’t going to mention the Friendship Trophy.
I’ll mention it though.
There’s more chance of me getting than predicting events in Yorkshire in midweek!