Paddy Davitt verdict: Quality is one thing. Fight is another
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Both Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke have highlighted the quality gap. Norwich City fans increasingly appear to be questioning the lack of fight.
Albeit Emi Buendia and Josip Drmic may have taken that too literally, after a pair of needless first half red cards tilted another Premier League contest away from the relegated Canaries.
Forget for a moment those endless embarrassingly negative records the Canaries now seemingly hoover up with alacrity after each passing winless episode.
Just focus on one. City have fallen behind 26 times in the top flight this season of woe.
They have yet to pick up a point. Not one. Never mind a comeback win. In that context it was perhaps a non starter to expect the nine men to respond in kind, once the unmarked Chris Wood had shinned an overhead kick past Tim Krul.
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But either side of lockdown that is a telling statistic.
Even if City went armed with pea shooters to the fire fight it is reasonable to expect spirit and courage and togetherness could have made up the quality deficit on at least one solitary occasion since last August. Even in the Premier League.
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That is what irks the fair-minded majority.
A regressive trend has seemingly intensified since the shell of what passes for football returned.
Farke highlighted in the build up to Burnley how this was the first real career setback for a seam of young talent who hitherto had known nothing but praise and promotion and a title win.
Allied to that, the loss for prolonged periods of Grant Hanley, Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann robbed Farke of an experienced leadership core. But neither point, while valid, excuses how compliantly City will return to the Championship.
Norwich fans would hardly expect to try and take on Burnley in an arm wrestle.
They do expect them not to continually exhibit the same naivety. This final Carrow Road affair behind closed doors was eminently winnable. City started the brighter.
Nick Pope foiled Ben Godfrey before Alex Tettey’s goalbound effort was blocked by James Tarkowski in the type of intervention Norwich have singularly failed to produce on a weekly basis.
Farke has been unable to address the lack of conviction in both penalty boxes after early momentum faded and reality started to bite.
Perhaps it really is all about a lack of quality and a lack of depth.
But that should not absolve Farke and his coaching staff. In the same manner they were rightly lauded for an alchemist touch to improve young and old under their command last season. There is a way to go down. And this is not it.
Nor is stray elbows or frustrated lunges to repair the damage of a heavy touch and perhaps a growing sense large swathes of your fan base have decided you are not fit for purpose.
What next is Manchester City. A daunting prospect at the best of times. One can only hope the upcoming Champions League quest proves more of a distraction than a furious riposte to a surprise FA Cup exit, or the lingering feeling they want to put the Canaries firmly in their place for the impudence shown at Carrow Road.
That game will stand the testament of time because it graphically illustrated the fight and unity within largely the same set of Norwich players. Admittedly the underdogs scored first that memorable September evening, when Kenny McLean majestically rose to head home Buendia’s corner at the near post, and grew in confidence with each passing brave block or rising notch to the raucous decibel level.
Playing without such voluminous backing has proven a huge handicap.
But mitigation sounds like excuses at present. There is much work to be done and precious little time to do it. It is nigh on impossible at present for all bar the most optimistic to lift their head above stormy clouds and see what could be on the horizon.
That is the task facing Webber and Farke.
Given they plotted a Championship title victory from the ashes of finishing below Ipswich Town it would be unwise to write off their chances. But the mood is restless.
This squad under this head coach are not giving their supporters enough grounds for optimism. But it will not be this squad who move forward from here. Expect a flurry of early signings either side of the trip to Manchester City to be announced.
Consider that the first stage in a salvage operation that may come to define how this era at Carrow Road is remembered.