Norwich City hopeless, hapless and helpless
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
An embarrassing day at the office and the road ahead looks not so much bumpy but unmade, pothole ridden and with plenty of tyre (or bubble) bursting sharp flints thrown in.
Let’s get straight to the point; the game was typified by cataclysmic defending on both sides and an almost stubborn concentration on the attacking side of the game. Relentless forays into opposition territory by our full backs created both our goals and other chances too but what did it cost us at the other end?
I mentioned that I thought Ranieri had sussed us out and I’m starting to wonder if it’s just him. We commit numbers forward and, as mentioned, it pays dividends. We play decent football, solid passing with just enough intricacy but it’s what happens when we lose the ball that is the worry. This was typified by Newcastle’s third where Redmond lost the ball, he chased back until he reached our defensive third where he applied the brakes leaving us in a three v three situation. I don’t think it was a case of him downing tools, I think it’s a case of us playing to trust those left defending to defend and come out on top. I simply can’t think of another reason we would continue to play in such a way that leaves us so vulnerable to the counter attack unless it is an intentional ploy. If it isn’t? Well, we have some discipline problems.
Folk are going to concentrate on Wijnaldum getting the run on Whittaker or argue that Martin should have committed to ball or player rather than splitting the two and I’m sure that they’ll feel justified. In truth, it wasn’t a great performance from any of the back five but they were also let down by those in front of them; it was a poor team display.
Of course, conceding six the focus will be on the defence and there isn’t much to erm, defend them based on Sunday. I can hardly remember Ruddy doing anything bar pick the ball out of the net but normally he contributes at least a couple of great saves a game, today? Well, almost everything they hit went in, right down to the Wijnaldum/Whittaker tag-team deflected effort to make it 6-2.
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We also hit the post twice and had a header cleared off the line. Had we enjoyed a bit of fortune we might have got five ourselves. And still lost.
There’s still an inkling of temptation to put this down as “one of those days” and try and dig out a positive or two to carry forward but it’s not just one of those days. We’re conceding too many goals and while we’re decent going forward, we’re constantly giving ourselves a mountain to climb.
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Now, I’ve stuck up for our defence all season and I’m sure plenty will be citing Sunday as clear evidence that I’ve been wrong all along. That’s fine. Perhaps I have been, writing a blog doesn’t make me any more or less prone to getting things right or wrong, it just leaves them set in print for people to read back. I can’t change my opinion and pretend it never happened (though it would be handy sometimes!).
Rights and wrongs aside, the defence we’ve got is in place until January at the earliest. I simply can’t agree that Ryan Bennett is the answer, though on the back of such a drubbing he might get a chance. He’s been a “promising” centre back for years now and has never got past being promising. Maybe now is his time, but if that was the case I don’t think Alex Neil would have persevered for so long without giving him a go.
However; perhaps rather than looking at specific personnel, we need to look at our method of play? It’s been unthinkable to question Alex Neil given the achievements since he came in but are we a bit too gung-ho? Should we be asking our full-backs to concentrate on their primary tasks? Are we asking too much of Tettey, Martin and Bassong as we camp the other seven outfield players in the final third to create scoring opportunities? That’s before we see Bassong maraud forward to get involved himself.
Are we just that little bit naïve?
I don’t know. I certainly don’t think that we’re four goals worse than Newcastle or that Wijnaldum has suddenly become Luis Suarez (might feel like it for John Ruddy).
What can’t be argued is that something’s got to give. If we elect to play like this then we have to be two things:
1. More clinical in front of goal
2. Luckier in front of our own goal
After this hiding, 40 points and May look a LONG way off.
One final point. To all those people who said that they didn’t mind losing so long as we “had a go” and “played attacking football” under he who shall not be named.
Never was the case, was it? We just don’t like losing. I don’t think Alex Neil does either, expect a response next week.
• Blog post written by Duncan Edwards