December 11 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Well, at least it wasn’t 7-1.… I do have some complaints about Saturday, but not about my side, who could have really thrown the towel in early on and at least managed to keep the visiting supporters quiet until the third goal went in.
Instead we can mull over how things might have been very different – not to mention fair – if everyone else in the Premier League faced a Manchester City side starting with Carlos Tevez: before Tevez started in midweek against West Brom, the last time that happened was against Wigan on September 10.
What would have happened if Manchester City had been able to start with Mario Balotelli rather than Tevez on Saturday, say?
Or if they had taken their other away games as seriously as they did this one? Manchester United and Wigan last Wednesday night have a lot to answer for on this score.
Or for being made to play the day before Manchester United took on Aston Villa – so that Roberto Mancini’s men avoided the pressure of having to play catch-up.
But, frankly, this is all rather academic.
The fact is this was Manchester City playing to the same level that saw them win 6-1 at Old Trafford and 5-1 at Tottenham earlier in the season.
We can criticise the manner of how the fifth goal was conceded, and perhaps the third as well, but the finishing for the others… sometimes you just have to admit you’re second best to a much better – and more expensive – team.
Manchester City’s performance at Carrow Road made Manchester United’s look like a pre-season display, and also totally eclipsed Tottenham’s movement and ability back in December – the only other time that opposition players have cut us to shreds here.
Given how they’ve now played against us twice, they should feel thoroughly embarrassed that this aamount of ability is going to go to waste if they don’t win the title.
Losing to Colchester was an embarrassment because they were never going to repeat their Carrow Road feats anywhere else, whereas our 6-1 result will be consigned to history the moment that Manchester City hand out a rout to some other unfortunates. Wolves on Sunday, for example.
Yes the opposition’s greatly superior quality shone through in the end, but it’s how we learn from Saturday and respond.
If Paul Lambert was smarting after the defeat to Manchester United, you can only wonder how he felt on Saturday afternoon.
I somehow imagine that this defeat has ended any chance that we might tail off in our last four fixtures.
• WHITE HART LANE DISPLAY MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN
Of course, the other reason it’s hard to get too upset about Saturday is what happened at White Hart Lane five days earlier.
Previously, I’d have nominated – in no particular order – Ipswich, Colchester, Charlton and Portsmouth as the best away days in the Lambert-Culverhouse era at Carrow Road.
Last Monday at Tottenham was far, far better.
It was almost as if 20 seasons of the Premier League had been airbrushed out of history and we were returned to a time when ‘smaller’ clubs such as the Canaries could go to grounds like White Hart Lane and win far more regularly than on a one-off basis.
We went out and gave it a real go, never let the opposition settle, and because we didn’t repeat the errors of our previous away fixture, and concede early on, we were able to dictate play instead of continually have to try to play catch-up.
Even a staggering inability to spot clear-cut penalties couldn’t deny Norwich a landmark victory to remember.
There’s a danger that because the Manchester City fixture came so soon after this game that beating Tottenham is going to be forgotten.
Not by any of the 3,000 Canaries fans present, that’s for sure.
It’s one thing to beat leading teams at home – such as the defeat of Manchester United in 2005 – because ground advantage can often make all the difference if the visitors aren’t quite up for it.
But to go to someone else’s ground and play with that amount of conviction and fearlessness… well for me that was actually more of an achievement than the famous victory of seven years ago.
Perhaps we did pay a price for last Monday’s heroics at the weekend in terms of running out of steam and also, understandably, wanting to give the same starting line-up a chance to grab further headlines.
But so be it, if that’s the price to be paid for yet another ‘I was there moment to add to the four previous examples.
• Apart from the performance and result the thing that gave me most pleasure about last Monday’s result was the overall media reaction.
I was expecting an awful lot of ‘Tottenham lost’ rather than ‘Norwich won’ press reports, but, largely, that wasn’t the case.
Whoever has the job at Carrow Road of collating press coverage this season must have seen a surprisingly sizeable number of favourable accounts over the course of the season.
However, there are some that still fall a bit wide of the mark – such as this ‘expert’ view I noticed on the Daily Mail website on Friday previewing the visit of Manchester City: “Never has a game at Norwich appeared so significant to the Premier League title race.”
Plainly April 5, 1993 does not ring any bells, when, with half a dozen games to go, Manchester United came to Carrow Road and won 3-1 to move above the Canaries in the top three.
• EWOOD VISIT MARKS HAPPY ANNIVERSARY
Fair play to Blackburn in almost halving ticket prices for this Saturday’s visit to Ewood Park, at a time when they have been making all manner of special offers to also tie in with their home game against Wigan.
(Home fans can actually get to see both games for the same prices as our tickets – but I think seeing Rovers twice this season will be enough for me; I can cope with missing the clash of the Lancashire titans on May 7.)
There are quite a few clubs I can think of that would have been happy to see away fans continuing to pay twice as much as home supporters.
Granted we’re plainly benefiting from the fact that they’ve now won just 12 times during Steve Kean’s 16 months in charge and are desperate to get any kind of crowd, but there’s also an added dimension to the game for Canaries fans – it will mark the first anniversary of a certain victory at Portman Road.
And what better way than to move closer to a couple of century landmarks during the Lambert-Culverhouse era?
After all, City’s league record during their time here now reads P 61 W 27 D 17 L 17 F 96 A 81 Pts 98
• COULD BE WORSE
A quick glance through the City records didn’t immediately throw up a worse aggregate league defeat than 11-2 – not even when we lost 10-2 at Swindon in the Southern League in 1908, as the return meeting ended 0-0 – but consider the following comparison between this season and 2004/5.
This time around, so far, we’ve lost 6-1 and 5-1 to Manchester City and 3-0 at Sunderland in our worse defeats.
Seven seasons ago we went down 6-0 at Fulham, 4-0 at Chelsea and Charlton, 3-0 at Aston Villa, Blackburn and Liverpool and 4-1 both home and away to Arsenal.
It’s one thing to be outclassed by multi-million-pound Manchester City, but losing by nearly as big margins against 11th-placed Charlton, 13th-placed Fulham or 15th-placed Blackburn was, I think, rather more significant in the scheme of things.
The Valley defeat in particular was a lot more of a concern than ever Saturday will prove to be.