Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City's 7-1 Championship romp against Reading
PUBLISHED: 17:48 08 April 2017 | UPDATED: 08:54 09 April 2017
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Carrow Road
1. History makers - Where to start. Norwich City scored six goals in the first half of a league game for the first time since 1908 and the first time ever at Carrow Road. The biggest home league win since beating Torquay 7-0 in 1952. City’s fortress has witnessed some memorable episodes in its long vintage but the carnage of the first 45 minutes in the beautiful Spring sunshine will live long in the memory for those fortunate enough to be present. City were potent, Reading were abysmal defensively. It was a role reversal of too many desperate away days for the Canaries, that have left the remaining Championship fixtures free of the pressure and the expectation that appears to have weighed heavy on this group for the majority. The emphatic nature of this win will not alter the sense of a missed opportunity this campaign but it was a timely reminder when City cut loose, few in the Championship can match their attacking weaponry.
2. Changing of the guard - A penny or two for Stuart Webber’s thoughts as he sat and watched his new club for the first time as City’s sporting director. Webber produced an assured display in front of the gathered media on Friday when he was officially unveiled. Much of the focus surrounded building a culture and an identity after the toxic decline that claimed Alex Neil and brought the 33-year-old to Norfolk to begin a new era. Central to that should be Alex Pritchard, who exuded creative energy and top class talent. Pritchard scored with either foot to further reiterate any potential summer suitors must be rebuffed. Wes Hoolahan was also on the mark with a brace to bring up his half-century for the club. It would be premature to suggest a changing of the guard is imminent but Pritchard’s progress must not be held back any longer.
3. Russ’ roar - City’s captain has been heavily criticised by a growing segment of Norwich’s support as this campaign unravelled. His spokesman role has left him exposed. None more so perhaps than against his hometown club Brighton this season when he emerged from a dressing room reeling from a 5-0 defeat to accuse some of his team mates of downing tools. Martin got the short straw again on Wednesday night after the latest away debacle against Huddersfield. The brutally honest admission he was setting himself up for fresh criticism and public condemnation as he tried to make sense of that Terriers’ mauling proved a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s why you could sense the feeling in his goal celebration in front of the Barclay. Martin, after the game, dedicated the win to former club stalwart Peter Oldfield, who died recently. Whatever your stance on whether the defender should be a key part of the future, there is no doubting the Scottish international cares for a club that has given him his best days.
4. Nelson’s world - Oliveira has had to bide his time in recent weeks with Cameron Jerome leading the line. The Portuguese only had himself to blame after his rash red card at Rotherham, compounded by an injury, opened the door for his chief rival - who still got on the scoresheet here in a late cameo. But 13 goals and counting in 27 appearances this season suggests whichever way Stuart Webber re-shapes this squad, the frontman possesses the quality and the guile to plunder in large quantities next season. Oliveira, at 25, is only going to get better.
5. Sour aftertaste - Norwich’s seven-goal romp took them top of one chart. No-one else in the Championship has scored more than 48 goals at home this season in the second tier. But it is the wretched away form, the total absence of defensive resolve and will to resist against clubs at the top, bottom and middle away from the secure confines of Carrow Road that leave City mere bystanders as the promotion race reaches it climax. That is bordering on the criminal for this group of players who demonstrated again in favourable conditions they can bully anyone. Enjoy the win, savour the skill but be in no doubt this remains a major rebuilding job for Stuart Webber.