So it seems that David Wagner has yet again produced the result to save his job.
The 2-1 win at Hull was as hard-fought as they come but unless he can back that up with four points from our next two games, against West Brom and Leeds United I still cannot see it. Trying to defend deep like that at Leeds… oh dear.
I was reminded the other day of something from my childhood that purported to be one thing and was, in fact, another. It was from the 1950s and 1960s and it will strike fear into anyone of a certain age. It was called IZAL and was advertised as toilet paper. Some of you will remember it with horror.
Now you could just about use it as tracing paper with a bit of luck but as toilet paper? Give me strips of cut up newspaper any day.
It was advertised as one thing but was something completely different. Much like David Wagner’s Norwich City Season Two.
He came here with a reputation for playing a high press a la Klopp and Liverpool – an aggressive style of play that he and Klopp, his close friend, invented together what we know today as the Gegenpress. But in the last few games what we have seen is the complete opposite – camped inside our own half as if a trip over the halfway line would lead to frostbite or something else equally distasteful.
To be fair, there were signs at the start of the season that we were moving the ball quicker than last season, but that has long gone by the wayside.
Closing down from the front? The front being where? Our own penalty box?
I was never convinced by our ‘improved’ defensive qualities and shape in the early season friendlies. As Chris Sutton once allegedly said, trust friendlies like a Muscat. As soon as the proper football started and despite a reasonable beginning to the season, we still shipped 32 goals in 16 games up to and including Cardiff away game.
Conceding an average of two goals per game, which even I can work out, is nowhere near good enough for a top-six place. So Wagner, to be fair, has now got that down to 11 conceded in the last 11 games since Cardiff and he did warn us that he was going to sacrifice some attacking.
But I don’t think many of us realised quite how much attacking was going to be sacrificed.
The trouble is, in order to achieve a more effective defensive set-up, our coach is now doing reruns of defending the Barricades from Les Miserables. And nearly as frequently as the West End show.
That’s a flippant take on it of course, but if you don’t laugh you will cry. And the odd win, like at Hull, will only serve to convince Wagner this is the right path.
The football being played by us at the moment is far removed from the football that Ben Knapper described in his own words. He wanted the Manchester City of today but is getting Wimbledon of the Eighties.
Yes, we do still have to see if he is his own man but surely he can see that Wagner doesn’t trust his players as soon as we come up against anyone decent. Instead we end up in a 1-5-5 and hang on for dear life.
It is the Championship for god’s sake, not the Champions League.
According to our outgoing Sporting Director, some of these players were good enough for the Premier LeagueI but it’s become ever more clear that it was Kieran Scott and his team, along with Daniel Farke, who produced those great sides.
Webber, with the help of the fans who bought the bonds, did a great job with Colney – in that we must be fair – but the Soccerbot can’t play holding midfielder!
I have noticed lately that Kenny McLean and Gabriel Sara have not been too effusive in interviews regarding playing centre-back or holding midfielder respectively. I remain convinced these players are playing for the coach – Hull was testimony to that – but do feel it isn’t a completely happy ship.
I feel we will have a change of coach soon. I like Wagner as a person and, in fact, feel sorry for him because though this team is better than he is getting out of them they are nowhere near as good as Webber thinks they are.
Finally, it also needs Delia to come down from her Ivory Tower and apologise to the supporters. Other than the normal divorcees, disgruntled journalists, and whingers making critical comments, this week you have to add Hucks, Iwan, Chris Sutton, Former BBC Sports presenter Mike Liggins, and most surprising of all, former NCFC Director Steve Stone to the list.
Delia is systematically undoing all the good she has done for the club.