Melissa Rudd: How we could all do with a lift - both on and off pitch
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There is an air of depressing predictability about Norwich City at the moment, both on and off the pitch.
Last week’s frank AGM only underlined financial woes that supporters are all too well aware of, while Friday evening’s defeat at Cardiff was further evidence of the effects of such dramatic cost-cutting.
For the 600 or so hardy souls who travelled to Wales, Marco Stiepermann’s thunderous strike was at least a moment to cheer, and in taking the lead it gave a brief glimmer of hope that this torrid run without a win could be halted.
But that was as good as it got as yet again the Canaries were masters of their own downfall, unable to take chances while a disjointed midfield allowed a resurgent home side to take control of the game after the interval.
What is perhaps most annoying is that for the first 45 minutes at least, Norwich showed a fight and desire that has been lacking in so many home performances against weaker teams. If the same performance had been matched against the likes of Barnsley and Preston there wouldn’t be so much pressure on getting a result at the side placed second in the table.
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Our very own Iwan Roberts summed it up on Twitter when he said Norwich could have been 3-0 up at the break. It was a similar story at Arsenal after an hour. Again though they only had one goal to show for their efforts.
Daniel Farke’s post-match comments that his side were so close to making it two games unbeaten and climbing up the table were a sad indictment of where City are at the moment. Cardiff didn’t score a last minute winner to unjustly scrape a win. City were beaten by two goals and had to save a penalty. Those margins don’t seem quite as fine.
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This slump has seen Norwich drop to 16th in the league table, averaging less than a goal a game. Only Birmingham and Burton, both in the bottom three, have scored fewer. This may be a five-week long rut in terms of results, but lack of goals have been a problem all season long and it is a trend that shows no signs of abating.
Such a goal-shy attack would put pressure on any defence. With Norwich only winning twice in the league this season when the opposition have scored the alarm bells ring every time Angus Gunn has to retrieve the ball from his net.
City are crying out for the return of Alex Tettey to balance a midfield who all too regularly fail to sense danger and protect the back four. His absence seems to have impacted massively on how Norwich defend as a unit. The Norwegian has started five games, of which Norwich won four and kept three clean sheets. It is easy to forget that the first of those league starts didn’t come until September.
The fact that he has been so sorely missed is a worrying sign of what might be to come should the supposedly open door of the Norwich City board not be greeted with a willing and wealthy investor. Tettey’s contract is up in the summer, and with the wage bill being slashed at every opportunity he looks set to be another experienced first-team regular to depart for pastures new.
It may take a while for this long-term, self-funded project to bear fruit under the guidance of Stuart Webber, but it doesn’t mean what’s happening in the short-term can be written off. City do not score enough goals and at the moment can’t win at home.
They are eight points off the relegation places and 11 points from the top six, and if we are talking in the extremes, in the current climate a scrap to stay up is looking far more likely than a battle for a play-off spot.
Those margins may change slightly come Saturday’s evening kick off against Sheffield Wednesday but that’s the narrative likely to be peddled by the visiting television pundits should Farke’s team go eight games without a win at Carrow Road. In the here and now he and the players are the only ones who can change City’s current course.