Six things you might have missed as City fell through the Premier League trapdoor
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After a third top-flight relegation in seven seasons for Norwich City, David Freezer assesses the fallout of a 4-0 thrashing on home turf at the hands of West Ham.
1 - A horrible club low is confirmed
This current Canaries crop may have secured one of the club’s most famous victories in the top flight this season - but they are also on course to go down as the worst statistically.
This is City’s 26th at the top table of English football and with 21 points from 35 games they will go down with the lowest points tally.
That unenviable record was held by the relegated side of 1974, who achieved 29 points during 42 games. When adjusted to three points for a win that is 36 points, or an average of 0.85 - just lower than the 33 (0.86) managed in 2005 and 2014 during 38-game campaigns.
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If they don’t manage two goals in their final three games it will also be the fewest goals scored, currently on 26 and hovering just below the paltry record low of 28 during the 2014 relegation.
But they would have to concede another 10 to equal the 2005 relegation team’s final total of 77. So that’s two added bits of motivation for them, at the very least.
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2 - Avoiding grim facts and figures
Another club record was equalled on Saturday, as the 4-0 implosion was a seventh consecutive league defeat.
That was achieved by the relegated top-flight team of 1995, as well as back in 1957 in Division Three South, so defeat at Chelsea tomorrow would claim that unwanted sequence outright.
An away goal is still needed just to match the PL record of fewest away goals with eight as well but 35 home goals conceded is a top-flight club record already with a win over Burnley needed to avoid equalling another, of just four home wins.
There is no pleasure in pointing out these horrible pieces of trivia, but it cannot be avoided that in spite of all the injuries, the financial limitations, the inexperience - this campaign has gone totally off the rails.
This City team have veered into toxic wasteland and any players hoping for a big money move this summer owe the club one last push to try and avoid some of these grim facts and figures.
3 - Key errors cannot be defended
Timm Klose’s reaction told the story as things started to unravel against West Ham, punching the air angrily after yet another weak set-piece concession.
On this occasion it was Mario Vrancic failing to attack the incoming ball from a corner and allowing Issa Diop to nip in front of him and nod on so that Michail Antonio could thump home and start his four-goal haul.
Teemu Pukki’s reaction summed up the second, as the striker rubbed his face in frustration after seeing a simple chipped free-kick from the left from Mark Noble headed in by Antonio as he squeezed between Klose and Ben Godfrey.
Klose then played Antonio onside and slowly recovered before Tim Krul’s smart save cruelly looped up for the third and the striker wandered to the near post unhindered for the fourth - after a weak tackle from Lukas Rupp.
You can feel sorry for Klose after his injury and for young defenders in the firing line, but this is basic stuff.
4 - Set-piece woes still troubling
Depleted confidence can no doubt take the blame for some of the goals being conceded, but set-pieces feel like they need a real reboot under Farke.
The German’s first season saw 26 percent of goals conceded from set-pieces as City finished in mid-table in the Championship.
That actually increased to just below 30pc as the title was won in style in 2018-19, but that was overlooked as the Canaries’ attacking flair swept all before them, with seven teams conceding fewer goals during that campaign.
That has increased slightly again so far to just over 31pc thanks to a league high of 16 after Saturday’s two easy concessions when trying to survive set-pieces being delivered in the air.
Zonal marking takes a bashing quickly when a team that uses it are doing badly, but players not reacting as the danger unfolds cannot be a tactical system’s fault. It may be time to start looking for some taller players if that trend is to improve.
5 - Valuable experience continues
We did see history made in the 70th minute, as Farke made the first quadruple substitution in a competitive City match - and two of them did come close to a very welcome consolation.
Todd Cantwell - yes, he has a new hairstyle, get over it - slipped Adam Idah into the box in the 80th minute.
The Irish youngster was aware the angle was too narrow so just powered a cross into the box, which deflected into the net off Aaron Cresswell - only for an offside flag to be raised.
The 19-year-old coming on ahead of Josip Drmic may well be a nod to what we can expect in the future and he has come so close to his first league goal, hitting the post against Brighton and just not being able to quite turn in a late equaliser at Watford.
Things seem to happen when Idah is on the pitch; he is hungry. Josh Martin was also keen to get on the ball as he got his longest stint, with the Hammers admittedly winding down. These are valuable minutes for both.
6 - Accepting reality of situation
How do you salvage any kind of pride from this dire situation? The starting point has to be in defence - and not just for this season.
Remember that 0-0 draw at Bournemouth in October, when City put in a stubborn rearguard effort? Just how welcome would that be now?
It’s not nice but acceptance of the reality is needed. This team are rock bottom and breaking unwanted records. Talk of having an attacking philosophy needs to be put away in a box. It’s time for back to basics, man marking, solid formations, aggression and determined physicality.
City gave Chelsea a real run for their money back in August when confidence was still flying high but lost 3-2 and faced 23 shots. And they beat Manchester City but faced 25 shots and held out.
There is a genuine danger of 10 successive defeats and that would be a crushing blow for any club to recover from. They simply must get a bandage on this open wound to stop the flow of yellow and green blood.