Six things you might have missed following City’s damaging defeat to Brighton
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
With relegation from the Premier League all but sealed, David Freezer assesses the fallout of Norwich City’s defeat to Brighton with six things you might have missed.
1 - Horrible records looming
How has it come to this? From all of that pre-season optimism, to the verge of equalling unwanted records.
If City fail to score again at Watford tomorrow night they will equal the club record of six league games without a goal, set in the Championship in 2007 - in the final match of Peter Grant’s reign.
The class of 2020 have lost 10 home games, the most of any of the club’s campaigns in the top tier, and equalling the overall record of 12 in Division Three South during 1946-47 is still possible. The previous record in the top division was eight defeats.
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They’re also on course to set the Canaries’ lowest points total in the top flight since three points for a win was introduced in 1981, as 12 are needed just to match the 33 during the relegations of 2005 and 2014. City also still need two away goals just to match the overall Premier League record low of eight away from home, held jointly by four teams since 1992.
So it’s more than personal pride that’s left to play for.
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2 - Extreme change of fortunes
Everyone connected with the Canaries knew survival would be difficult to secure but the extreme swing in moods between seasons has made this struggle even more difficult to stomach.
Going from winning the Championship in style with 93 goals and 27 wins, to the drought now being endured, has been difficult to accept - particularly from the same squad which scored nine goals during its opening five games of the campaign.
Just 13 have followed during the next 28 matches, to the point where the 11 picked to start on Saturday had managed just five between them.
Daniel Farke explained that he felt Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell needed to be rotated during this unusually busy spell of action in the Premier League.
But City have managed a paltry five shots on target since the restart, as many as they had during the 1-0 loss at Sheffield United in March. That decline in confidence is truly sad to watch.
3 - Delicate balance for Farke
It’s difficult to deny that this current Canaries crop are quickly using up a lot of the credit they had in the bank, so can they manage to change the mood music?
The Championship is almost certainly the destination but the manner of descent could prove key to how next season shapes up, particularly with a short break expected.
That’s a delicate balance for Daniel Farke to strike, between those who are part of the future and those who may leave but remain fully committed in the short term.
Adam Idah looks likely to be a big part of the future and also looks fired up for the challenge right now, using his size to hold up the ball when he was given then chance and also showing real determination to win the header which struck a post during injury-time.
Teemu Pukki and Josip Drmic don’t look certain to leave but both are struggling to make an impact at the moment. Idah may not get a start just yet but he is ready for significant game time.
4 - Pain of the failure was clear to see
The human element of a relegation battle shouldn’t be forgotten about and that strain was clearly on display at full-time.
Todd Cantwell was initially hauled to his feet by Ben Godfrey, before deciding he couldn’t face the dressing room yet as he sat back down to take his boots and socks off while quietly reflecting.
Not far away next to the home dugout was winger Onel Hernandez, looking so disappointed after a game when he had at least seemed to by City’s best attacking outlet, using his pace and trickery but failing to find his shooting range.
And alongside the Cuban were Timm Klose and Alex Tettey, having an animated discussion about where it had all gone wrong, as they faced another relegation as Canaries players.
The majority of this group were being hailed as heroes not so long ago, so clichés about players downing tools don’t seem fair. The players care but they have lost their way to a drastic extent.
5 - Goal had a familiar look to it
City failed to earn a corner against Brighton, which is just the second time that has happened in a league game during Farke’s reign.
They attempted 587 passes and have only surpassed that during three matches this season, during the home wins over Bournemouth and Newcastle, as well as the loss to Watford at Carrow Road.
However, it only took one skewed pass from Klose to give the Seagulls the crucial upper hand in the 67th minute, which the visitors pounced upon speedily through Aaron Mooy and Leandro Trossard.
It was Trossard who came off the bench and broke the deadlock at Brighton in November, getting across Godfrey to turn in at the near post - sound familiar?
Within hours of this game Godfrey’s name was back in the gossip columns but the goal again proved he is not the finished article yet. He has huge potential and has had a lot of pressure on his shoulders but is still sensing the danger too late, too often.
6 - City fans waiting for a fightback
The step up in quality from the Championship to the Premier League is vast, as emphasised by the fact that City haven’t come from behind to claim a point this season, not even once.
Last season they came from behind to win six games and draw another nine. During the current campaign they have only managed to equalise twice, during the 3-2 home loss to Chelsea and the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham.
During the 2018-19 title success it was often said that City had superior fitness or just wanted the points more than their opposition. Some of that was true of course but the reality is that they were just better than most other teams at that level.
Drmic did level at Spurs ahead of the shoot-out win and Cantwell also equalised against United in the FA Cup during the recent loss.
But that lack of fightbacks has become a narrative for the struggles of this season, one which this group of players is quickly running out of time to change.