Norwich City’s frustrating festivities leave goodwill in short supply

Mike Dean shows off his post-penalty award follow-through at the end of the first half at Selhurst P

Mike Dean shows off his post-penalty award follow-through at the end of the first half at Selhurst Park. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

For some reason, it’s been a bit of an angry festive period. Maybe that’s the norm for Norwich City followers – given Christmas success is not something obviously written into the Canaries’ DNA.

Make no mistake, City had a wonderful opportunity to make this a season of progress once they had finished up at the Stadium of Light. But it just didn’t happen.

The Manchester United performance was good to see in so many ways as City pressed well and caused a clearly vulnerable visiting side plenty of problems.

In truth, City should have left that game with at least a point – but were able to claim something of a response from their Fulham defeat two days earlier.

And that was the biggest anger – because had they managed to be up for that previous Boxing Day clash, they wouldn’t have needed it.

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The response – an ultimately pointless one – was all well and good. But that tempo and work rate should be the minimum requirement for every game at Carrow Road.

All that Boxing Day defeat did was underline City’s current trend of only winning games they seemingly have to. Any three points that border on want, rather than need, and it suddenly feels beyond them. It’s a trait that has been helpful when the likes of West Ham, Crystal Palace and last season West Bromwich Albion and Reading visited. The rest of the time, it’s simply infuriating.

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And then we had the New Year’s Day trip to Selhurst Park, where Palace were gearing up for a win to keep their newfound improvement heading skywards.

In the end, the Eagles looked as poor – if still game – as they had at Carrow Road a few weeks earlier.

But the anger here wasn’t at Leroy Fer’s late sending off – or his unfortunate concession of Palace’s equalising penalty. Nope – it was the preserve of referee Mike Dean.

While Mile Jedinak flew through the air with arms up, it was probably understandable that at Selhurst Park, Dean gave the penalty.

What wasn’t was the referee’s intolerable pomposity in giving the decision – appearing all too self-aware that the world was waiting for his lordship’s toot on whistle and flaunting finger.

In truth, he could even have been forgiven for that – had he actually got his biggest – and arguably easiest – decision of the afternoon right, just a few minutes earlier.

To have not dismissed Marouane Chamakh for grabbing Wes Hoolahan’s throat was either a disgraceful oversight he tried to cover up by booking both players, or the sort of huge misjudgement a professional official should concentrate on rectifying – rather than embark on ridiculous posturing.

At this point, I’m assuming journalists can’t be asked by the FA to explain their post-match comments on officials. Otherwise I’m in trouble.

I’m not even sure my idea of a fifth official watching TV replays will always help. After all, the referee could always ignore his earpiece.

We don’t know what either Chamakh’s pardon or Gary Hooper’s first-half miss at 1-0 against Fulham will mean for the rest of City’s season. But you hope they at least fuel a big fire that will burn them to safety over the first half of 2014.

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