Leeds game sums up Canaries' season
Simon Charlton believes Norwich City's infuriating inconsistency was summed up in the space of just 90 minutes at Leeds on Saturday. The Canaries failed to register a decent effort on goal in the first half as they struggled to get their passing game together, and would have been 2-0 down at the interval had Robert Green not pulled off another world class save.
Simon Charlton believes Norwich City's infuriating inconsistency was summed up in the space of just 90 minutes at Leeds on Saturday.
The Canaries failed to register a decent effort on goal in first half as they struggled to get their passing game together, and would have been 2-0 down at the interval had Robert Green not pulled off another world class save.
But it was a completely different story in the second period as Nigel Worthington's side played some of their best football of the season to deservedly go 2-1 in front, before a peach of a free-kick from Eddie Lewis pegged them back in the dying minutes.
Charlton accepts it was a case of keeping things tight early on and then trying to get something out of the game when a goal was conceded, but he still can't believe that City managed to turn in two such contrasting displays in one afternoon.
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“For the first 45 minutes I thought we were garbage, for the second 45 I thought we were liked Barcelona,” he said.
“That's the thing that has plagued us all season to be honest. Quite often in the first half of games we have looked a little bit disorganised, edgy. And when we come out in the second half it looks as though everyone has taken a pill or something!
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“Everyone seems to be relaxed and we start passing the ball. And we all know that as soon as Norwich City start passing the ball they are going to cause teams problems.
“On the second half performance I thought we deserved to win that game. For the first quarter of an hour after the break I don't think they got into our penalty area once.
“We would have settled for a point beforehand because they have been on a high recently while we have been up and down - but when you are 2-1 up with a few minutes to go you are obviously hoping to win the game.
“It was disappointing but you have got to give Lewis credit. What a great free-kick that was.”
Charlton was delighted to be part of a vastly improved away performance. It was widely assumed that he would drop out of the starting line-up at the weekend to accommodate the return of Adam Drury at left-back, but he was given a role in centre of midfield and did an excellent job for the side - with an assist thrown in for good measure.
The 34-year-old utility player picked out Andy Hughes with a delightful pass for City's opening goal and was pleased with his overall contribution to a solid team display. He was also delighted for the scorer, who has taken more than his fair share of stick from the stands this season - but has remained resolute on the pitch, with Saturday's performance at Elland Road being perhaps his best yet in a Norwich City shirt.
“Hughesy is a great lad and the stick he has got has been very unfair in my opinion,” he said.
“Because of that he was maybe trying too hard to impress at times - but I think supporters are starting to see the best of him now.
“He has got a great engine, he's a 100 per cent player - and you need those types of players in your team.
"I thought he was excellent against Leeds and I was really pleased to see him get on the scoresheet.
“Leon McKenzie made a good run to draw the defender towards him and I was able to find Hughesy in lots of space.
"Luckily enough he didn't have to break his stride to pick it up and he was able to stick it in the back of the net.”
He added: “I think the manager wanted my experience in there to keep things tight, keep things ticking over.
“He certainly didn't want me racing forward and getting myself out of position.
“The thing we were looking at all week was being more solid and working as a team. In the Crystal Palace game, and a few others besides that, we have gone out there and looked as though we have never played together before.
"I think we went back to the standards we showed at Sheffield United away, Leicester away where we knew it was going to be a battle and just knuckled down.
"With Adam coming back, I was pleased to keep my place in the side. I've have enjoyed playing in midfield this season and hopefully I will get another chance in the next game.”
That fixture is a another big one, with the second place Blades looking for some revenge for a 3-1 home defeat at Carrow Road on Saturday and Charlton is already looking forward to that one.
“It would be quite something if we could do the double over them - and we are quite capable of doing it,” he said. “But we know it's going to be just as tough as it was at Elland Road.
"At Bramall Lane it was a battle, a fight, but our quality shone through in the end. Hopefully it will be the same on Saturday.”