Friday, December 29:
Another game over the festive season and Wagner’s Warriors head to The New Den, on a Friday with a 7.45 KO. Another great sense of humour by-pass the fixture computer has delivered.
The team is announced… well eleven names have appeared on a teamsheet … and I, for one, can’t believe what I’m looking at.
Ben Gibson and Danny Batth are our centre-backs, Kenny McLean is back in the middle of the park, and Onel Hernandez, Ashley Barnes, and Christian Fassnacht are the chosen three to support Hwang Ui-Jo.
Well, what do I know?
To be fair, in the first 15 minutes, City were cutting through Millwall with ease and a goal had to come. Unfortunately, it did, on 18 minutes, but not as we had hoped. A City attack broke down and four passes later Millwall were 1-0 up.
It only got worse after that. The only real entertainment before Barnes’ WTF moment was, will Wagner make a substitution at halftime as it’s not working? Well, he didn’t and it still didn’t work.
After the Ashley Barnes WTF moment, he did finally make some substitutions, and for five or six minutes they were energised, by Jon Rowe at least, until the game settled back into its dreary pattern.
It was the worst Norwich display for months. No pattern of play, no pace, and, boy, are we easy to play against. The transition between the thirds is so pedestrian. Over 60 per cent of possession and yet our best player is Angus Gunn. Three goal-stopping saves, while the Millwall keeper wasn’t really tested.
On the Barnes WTF, he was elbowed, but his reaction was amusing – throwing Jake Cooper to the floor.
VAR could well have seen the ref produce two reds – one for the elbow and one for the reaction. But still Barnes continued the niggle and was lucky not to see red. Wagner’s best decision all night was to substitute him for Adam Idah.
It wasn’t a great game for the Irishman to come into as he basically did nowt, but it wasn’t his fault as the way the team was set up was not conducive to our attacking players being effective. For me, it comes back to the lack of speed in moving the ball forward in transition between the thirds.
At times we were playing the Hail Mary pass from halfway, hoping one of our front players would make something out of nothing.
It was though nice to see Josh Sargent back on the pitch. His movement looked good but he didn’t get a chance to score.
This was, on paper the game we should have taken something from, between the Baggies away and the Saints at home, and so to get some Festive points all we now need to do is beat Russell Martin’s team – 17 games unbeaten – on New Years Day.
Saturday, December 30.
So that’s 2023 out of the way. More defeats than wins, but just enough wins to stave off the threat of relegation. But still no established pattern of play, apart from a slow predictable build-up.
Wagner has now had two transfer windows, but were they his or Webber’s? Now we have another one opening tomorrow and who is in charge of it? Wagner or Knapper.
Maybe it won’t make a doodle of difference if the purse strings are not loosened!
Happy New Year to all.