Morning. How are those nerves after that Carrow Road shredding?
One for the adrenaline junkies. right?
Back in the real world, it was one of those where, for those who struggle to sleep, it was an ideal opportunity to catch up on some.
For those who don’t have a problem sleeping, alternative ways to pass the time were deployed. A couple of lads behind me reminisced about their respective amateur playing days; the lovely people to my left discussed their plans for Christmas, while my River End neighbour and I somehow found our way onto how we coped. work-wise, during the first Covid lockdown.
Further afield, the boys and girls of the Snake Pit tried, unsuccessfully as first, to get a rise out of the good folk of the Barclay. We all found our own ways to deal with it.
In between a bit of football broke out. But not very much. This was gruel at its thinnest.
It was also, as David Wagner reminded us afterwards, a point and a clean sheet, so I guess there was something to be grateful for, but those CanaryCallers who took the time to go on air to tell us they enjoyed it and could see signs of improvement were watching a different game to most.
Nil-nils happen of course and are part and parcel of the wider spectrum of football. But they tend to fall in the ‘you have to endure days like these to enjoy the good days’ category, and at the moment, the good days – or at least entertaining days – are in short supply.
To halt a worrying slide that saw us ship goals at a rate of twos and threes a game, Wagner has completely abandoned any pretence of artistic impression. We are now, it appears, solely in the results business and as a head coach that leaves you nowhere to hide.
If you ain’t winning and you ain’t entertaining, then what?
The loyalists will of course point to three wins and only one defeat in our last five and, of course, they are right but, as Dean Smith discovered, the Canary Nation generally prefers its football with a least a little bit of style.
And so does Ben Knapper. Just to be sure, I revisited his first interview with the club when he was asked to define his preferred style of play.
So… to quote (and look away if your name is David Wagner):
- “I’m a purist when it comes to football”
- “I like attacking, proactive football where teams try and control the game with the ball”
- “To be the protagonist in the game and go and win the ball back up high”
- “To try and entertain and score goals”
- “Consistency of style is key and it’s important to have a style that’s identifiable”
Based on yesterday afternoon, I’d give City a solid 1/5 because we did control the game with the ball based on us having had 64 per cent of possession and 18 shots.
The caveat is that off the back of three straight defeats, Ryan Lowe sent Preston out with the sole intention of seeking a point by virtue of an air-tight low block. They knew they would cede possession and were happy to. They just sat in and challenged us to break them down … which we didn’t.
So let’s not get too carried away with having so much of the ball – we were meant to – although it did make a pleasant change from having to survive on the scraps of thirty-something per cent.
But, for the sake of balance (and to prevent the ‘Gowers in a miserablist’ crew from launching at me again), there were a few signs of promise to emerge, notably another unlikely but tidy performance at centre-back from Kenny McLean and evidence of a more confident Marcelino Nunez emerging as a result of getting some game time.
As awkward as it is to see McLean lining up as our left centre-back, if Wagner is to persist with him there – and it would be a brave thing to do in a local derby – the crunch will come when he is challenged defensively. So far that has not really happened.
But I see the logic. Minus a fit left-footed centre-back, there is a lack of balance when trying to progress the ball up the pitch and McLean provides that. What he doesn’t provide is the defensive experience of Danny Batth, who must be wondering why the hell he bothered moving to Norfolk.
As far as Nuzez goes, there is clearly a player in there. He’s neat in possession and puts in a shift – even in a holding role – but it feels like he needs a big moment to reignite his City career.
I can think of the ideal platform 🙂
So, it wasn’t all bad … just a bit dull. And when you’re sick to death of ‘dull’ this season, it wasn’t the ideal preparation for what promises to be a pivotal Festive period
Just one more thing. There were lots of empty seats in the River End yesterday afternoon, including three to my left and five to the right of my ‘neighbour’ (and no, it had nowt to do with my personal hygiene).
If I were Delia, Michael and Mark that would bother me.