I thought that was a brilliant effort from the lads at Sheffield United. Brilliant. When the dust settles I hope more Norwich City fans can be less emotional - including some very influential local media - and put that match into perspective.

Yes, results have papered over performances and the previous six to 10 games have been a torrid watch, but please have perspective, that period coincided with the left sided injuries.

However, the first 60 minutes against Sheff United was outstanding and a reminder of what we can expect with a balanced left and right flank. That was despite being forced, by injuries and a suspension, to play Giannoulis, Hayden and Nunez.

Hayden hit a fitness wall after 20 minutes, but managed his energy well until he was subbed, and he was partnered by Nunez, who has been physically and athletically outmuscled since very early in the season.

I thought the energy from Cantwell was essential and frankly good management by Dean Smith, because he was able to cover midfield ground that the other two combined could not cover. It felt to me, impartially and not emotionally, that we were playing with 10 men for 70 mins of the match. The lads did so well to get that point.

Sheff United remain an incredibly good team at this level. Nor is it lost on me that Brewster was reportedly a £26 million signing from Liverpool, McBurnie another £20 million, luckily Sander Berge was absent and he was £23 million. Unless I’m mistaken, either of those two forwards cost more than the entire Norwich starting XI combined? Up until 60 minutes, there was only one team in that match.

We had natural width capable of stretching a five man midfield, despite our own central fitness deficiencies for which Cantwell did so well to compensate. It was a competitive set up despite obvious fitness limitations throughout the team. I am also beginning to sense that Smith is engineering a system whereby both Sargent and Pukki are on track to score 40 goals between them because he's evolving a system where both, and not just one, can thrive.

On any other day, those two bagged a brace each. It wasn't perfect and again Aarons was exposed with little midfield protection, but there was a tactical intent that shouldn't be overlooked.

However, with our present squad limitations, there was no way it could last the 90 minutes with the fitness levels and substitute options. In the last 30 minutes Dean Smith had to ask Cantwell, Ramsay, Springett and Gibbs to try and see out the game. He doesn’t have Oliver Skipp or Emi Buendia. This squad is not of his making, it's a bloated legacy of a wastefully expensive squad he inherited.

Dean Smith asked those young midfielders to do their best because he had no other choices. The likes of Fleck and Norwood had beaten and bullied every Daniel Farke team for years, and in the game at the weekend they had loan players from Premier League clubs coming off the bench too. Those youngsters tried their best but couldn't protect our defence which meant Sheff United getting the point they deserved.

However, instead of saying well done to the players most fans seem livid for dropping two points and blaming Dean Smith for not being able to enforce game management to get all three points.

Dean Smith can’t help, for once, Sargent missing a sitter for 3-0 or Pukki missing a late penalty for 3-2. What would we be complaining about then, exactly?

We couldn't manage to see out this game because of where the squad is with fitness and injuries and how little balance our midfield has after losing the likes of PLM, Gilmour and Normann. I reiterate, Gibbs, McLean, Ramsay and Springett. Dean Smith had nothing else to try.

The game at Bramall Lane was a very timely reminder of what balance means to any football team. Although I’m a critic of both, we had a re-introduction of a natural left side with Gibson and Giannoulis. That is a crucial detail that has been flippantly dismissed in the last two months when dire performances were masked by results.

We should judge this latest match on the first 60 minutes and think positively. When every player is fully match fit, as Dean Smith intends his starting XI to be, then we clearly have the potential to be good enough.

I thought it was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen for a long time and I’m immensely proud of getting the point.


Midfield Mike