Chris Goreham: Norwich City fans left feeling sick to the stomach after home loss
PUBLISHED: 17:03 25 October 2016 | UPDATED: 17:05 25 October 2016
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It's amazing how quickly that feeling in the pit of the stomach returns after a home defeat.
The moment the referee blew the final whistle at Carrow Road on Saturday to confirm Preston’s 1-0 victory that horrible old churn that can only be caused by seeing your team out performed in its own backyard returned for Norwich City fans.
It shouldn’t have felt so crushingly familiar. This was the Canaries’ first home defeat of the season. The last time they lost in front of their home supporters Wayne Rooney was a mainstay of the Manchester United attack as he proved by embarrassing Sebastien Bassong and setting up Juan Mata for the only goal of the game back on May 7. Back then Wales hadn’t played at a major tournament since 1958, Iceland was a footballing nation that could still be patronised by England and David Cameron’s Great Britain was a fully committed member of the EU.
The 1-0 loss to Manchester United all but sealed Norwich City’s relegation and it was that very evening that chief executive David McNally used social media to suggest that he might be on the point of clearing the personal belongings in his luxurious Carrow Road office into a cardboard box. He left within 48 hours.
This latest 1-0 defeat should not have such far reaching consequences for the club but there is no denying that it has highlighted many of the insecurities that had been niggling supporters in the five and a half months since that last home defeat.
A week earlier Norwich were top of the Championship and on a run of seven wins from eight games. The Preston match proved once again that this division doesn’t believe in anyone having a divine right to get promoted. The result came just as you felt the Canaries were about to be granted planning permission for the fortress they’re always talking about turning Carrow Road into having won six straight home matches since drawing 0-0 with Sheffield Wednesday in August.
The biggest blow to be dealt on Saturday may have come from manager Alex Neil after the game. Reports that Jonny Howson had been seen at the ground on crutches were confirmed with the alarming revelation that he had gone under the surgeon’s knife and is unlikely to be seen on a football pitch this side of Christmas. What happens to the centre of the City midfield without his undoubted class? It’s like owning a Rolls Royce but having to leave it in the garage because it can’t get through the MOT.
Youssouf Mulumbu is also injured and that leaves Alex Tettey and Graham Dorrans with the task of keeping the engine room ticking over by themselves for the next couple of months. Both players are definitely capable but both are walking a tightrope having had four yellow cards so far this season.
This could lead to an opportunity for a new name to make his mark for Norwich City. Louis Thompson has impressed so far this season in the cameos he has enjoyed which amount to two brief substitute appearances in the Championship and playing in the League Cup wins over Coventry and Everton.
I would expect to see him on the pitch at Leeds tonight and another committed display could bring a first league start closer for the 21-year old more than two years after he was initially signed from Swindon. There is certainly no need to panic but Championship winters can be long, cold and very bitter for teams who are not prepared to work harder than the rest.
Anything less and that feeling in the pit of the stomach that results from conceding the only goal of the game to a free header from a set piece might be here to stay.
Former Norwich City man still has star quality
The oddest decision of The Championship season has to be the one Derby County made in August to allow Chris Martin to join Fulham on loan.
His quality as a finisher has been obvious since the Beccles boy ran riot in Norwich City’s League One title winning season alongside Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt. It was evident again at Craven Cottage last Tuesday night when he inspired Fulham to come from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw with his old club.
Martin failed to score for Derby in six games at the start of this season under Nigel Pearson and was farmed out to Fulham. Here is a striker who got 15 goals last season and 21 the year before for the Rams. The entire Derby squad has managed just seven goals in the first 14 league games of this season so thinking they could afford to offload a striker capable of weighing in with that number of goals seems foolish.
Martin has certainly improved since he left Norwich in the summer of 2013, benefitting from the 138 games of league football that he probably wouldn’t have got had he stayed.
It was however a surprise to bump into him near Putney Bridge on the way back to the car after covering the Fulham game for BBC Radio Norfolk. There he was standing by the side of the road in his club tracksuit presumably heading home.
He was in the sort of affable mood that all strikers tend to be when they have scored an important goal but he was happy to stop for a quick chat and honest enough to admit that he wouldn’t be claiming Fulham’s first from that evening.
I’m sure we’ll see him at Carrow Road later this season but if Derby’s recently returned manager Steve McClaren has got anything about him it will be for them rather than Fulham.