Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City's 2-0 Championship defeat at Aston Villa
PUBLISHED: 17:49 01 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:30 02 April 2017
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Villa Park
1. Groundhog Day - Different man picking the side but the same old problems with this group of Norwich players. A lack of punch, for all the pretty patterns, and too willing to wilt when they come under pressure, which on a large number of occasions this season has been self-inflicted at source. Jacob Murphy’s international exertions may have taken a toll, given the series of turnovers that eventually allowed Jonathan Kodjia to escape City’s two centre backs to slot the opener. His second goal summed up all that is wrong with Norwich this season. Indecision, a lack of communication and a lack of responsibility as Ryan Bennett waited for Michael McGovern, who waited for Ryan Bennett. Kodjia nipped between both to poke home a hopeful clearance in front of the Holte End. Expect to see that wide-angled dejection picture in the papers again.
2. Act and act now - Norwich City top brass have almost turned it into a mission statement. They will take their time to get the right sporting director and in turn the right head coach - with both ideally in the building before the summer recess. That is not going to be quick enough for a disenchanted support and a set of players who appear to be looking for any excuse now, given the on-going uncertainty. Alan Irvine can hold the ring for so long. It needs clarity and it needs a re-building job, commencing as soon as possible. One would hope the search for a sporting director is concluded in the coming days. Norwich’s fed-up fans need a boost.
3. Major surgery rather than cosmetics - Once the new sporting director and head coach are in situ they will inevitably take stock and then face a clear decision. Tweak around the edges or enact wholesale change? That is a process not entirely in their control, given the need to find potential suitors for those deemed surplus to requirements and an astute approach to the financial intricacies that accompany getting deals done in modern football, with so many competing actors involved. Nevertheless, the manner City compliantly rolled over again at Villa Park should remove any last vestiges of doubt. Change is needed and it needs to be on a grand scale. Loyalty is not the order of the day this close season.
4. Alex Pritchard - If you want a glimmer of something to cling to then the little midfield general does not look out of place in the Championship cut and thrust. Nor should he, given his starring role for Brentford during a season-long loan two seasons ago the last time Norwich were in this division. Pritchard has had to bide his time but if this is to be a watershed summer and a new era, he has to be one of the cornerstones of the new approach. He must be a player to re-model the Canaries’ strategy around.
5. Terriers next - Given the protracted pursuit for Huddersfield’s head of football operations, Stuart Webber, to fill Norwich City’s sporting director vacancy, a midweek trip to West Yorkshire may prove awkward for all parties concerned. However that is resolved in the coming days, Norwich must find a pair of full backs, with both Ivo Pinto and Mitchell Dijks suspended, to try and halt a Huddersfield side no doubt reeling from a 96th minute defeat to Burton. The Terriers will be desperate for points, Norwich will be desperate for some semblance of hope.