Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 3-1 Championship win against Wolves
PUBLISHED: 17:38 21 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:47 22 January 2017
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Carrow Road
1. Double Scotch - Alex Neil and Paul Lambert may have never met before but there was plenty of shared history even before this first competitive meeting. The battalion of photographers stationed around the dug outs awaiting the arrival of both men prior to kick-off was testament to the intriguing sub-plot. Neil claimed the spoils but in the mannerisms and even the dress sense, as they prowled the technical areas, it was uncanny to watch both in action. Many Norwich fans in the current struggles would arguably swap the pair but this was Neil’s day.
2. Live by the sword - Wolves players were incensed at the generous nature of Norwich’s spot kick award, when Wes Hoolahan tumbled over Carl Ikeme’s challenge. The keeper’s apparent shove earned him a red card and prompted Matt Doherty to swap an outfield berth for the number one jersey in a vain bid to stop Robbie Brady’s penalty. But Doherty himself was a pivotal actor in Wolves’ spot kick minutes earlier when he burst goalside of Ivo Pinto and went over as he waited for the Portuguese to commit himself. Both decisions were open to a dollop of interpretation but it was a touch rich for the visitors to berate Hoolahan.
3. Proactive Paul Lambert - One of the hallmarks of Lambert’s successful stint at Carrow Road was his fearless intuition to alter the flow of a game from the bench. Lambert’s sides were not simply aggressive, front foot operators, so too was the Scot who often looked like he had played the 90 minutes afterwards given his own exertions. Lambert went for broke here with three substitutes all on the pitch by the 66th minute. Alex Neil continued to seek counsel from his coaches but that circumspection allied to Lambert’s triple call tipped the game in Norwich’s favour. Carl Ikeme’s red card after all three subs had been introduced forced Doherty to don the gloves. On this occasion, the arch gambler went home empty-handed.
4. Home comforts - All the talk again will be about turned corners and upward trajectories. What is not in doubt is despite the anaemic Carrow Road atmosphere, punctuated here by criticism from sections of the home support directed squarely at chief executive Jez Moxey, Norwich manage to find a way. One defeat in the last six at home is a firm foundation but until Alex Neil can fix a dire seam of away form the searching questions and the seething frustration of many supporters will not be far from the surface.
5. Transfer spotlight - Job done on the pitch. Now the focus shifts to City’s attempts to re-shape a squad that still feels in major need of surgery to equip it for whatever lies ahead. Robbie Brady looked in serious pain when he took a first-half bang on the knee. The Irishman continued and was a pivotal figure from the penalty spot in the second-half but given his value and the growing interest in his potential purchase there was no doubt a sharp intake of breath in certain quarters - both at Carrow Road and around the country. Brady may well depart. Martin Olsson has already, but it is now about who City can attract to Carrow Road to fill the gaps and refresh the squad. The sight of Kyle Lafferty handing his shirt to a supporter in the Lower Barclay at full time may take on added significance in the days ahead. Albeit, Alex Neil insisted after the game there had been no offers for the Northern Irishman.