Iwan Roberts: Norwich City only have themselves to blame but all is not yet lost
PUBLISHED: 08:02 22 April 2016 | UPDATED: 08:02 22 April 2016
I have to say that the result against Sunderland really did take me by surprise.
I honestly didn’t think Norwich would lose as heavily as they did against one of their fellow strugglers.
Big Sam’s team hadn’t won an away game since I witnessed their win down at The Liberty on January 13 and had won only once in their last 11 games, but they really produced the goods when it mattered most.
I didn’t get carried away when Norwich beat West Brom and then Newcastle as I knew there were still plenty of twists and turns left in this relegation battle.
Even though this defeat really hurt us all I won’t dwell on what happened last weekend as there’s still four games to go and everything still to play for.
I totally understand the fans’ frustrations when they see their team picking up results against the likes of both Manchester clubs and Arsenal, but then lose against the teams that are in and around them at the wrong end of the table.
Since the turn of the year Norwich have lost against Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Swansea and Crystal Palace and those defeats have really jeopardised the club’s ambitions of staying in the Premier League. Forget the games against the so-called glamour clubs in the league – they take care of themselves and whatever you take off them points wise is a bonus. The teams that you must take points off are the ones that you’re fighting with to avoid relegation when the pressure is really on.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, you have to make sure you somehow don’t lose those games and let them gain an advantage on you.
I can see why some Norwich fans thought the penalty decision against Andre Wisdom was harsh but in my opinion it was the right decision.
Wisdom did take some of the ball but he went in far too high and it really was a reckless challenge. Anywhere else on the pitch and that’s a free-kick all day long and quite possibly a different colour card as it is a leg breaking challenge.
However, I think Andre Marriner got the decision for Sunderland’s second goal totally wrong as Sebastien Bassong was clearly tripped before the ball fell to Jermain Defoe to slot past John Ruddy. I know Bassong took far too long on the ball and really should have got rid of it before he got himself into trouble, but a trip is a trip and the ref should have blown. And at 2-0 there was no coming back for Norwich.
Those three points for Sunderland closed the gap on the Canaries to just one point and with Rafa Benitez winning his first game in charge of Newcastle against Swansea last weekend, followed up by a very valuable point on Tuesday night against Manchester City, it means Newcastle are now just the two points behind Norwich and everything really is to play for.