Consistency is the elusive property Norwich City must attain in the Premier League

Norwich City club captain Russell Martin is convinced the Canaries are on the right track. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City club captain Russell Martin is convinced the Canaries are on the right track. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Saturday, January 25, 2014
9:05 AM

The character of Norwich City’s players is never in doubt but they must answer those lingering questions about their consistency.

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Russell Martin gave a bullish defence of his manager earlier this week when he insisted the rock-solid team spirit that helped carry them from League One remains firmly intact despite the large turnover in personnel. Yet that stirring Premier League win over Hull City will only be a watershed if they follow up with another positive result at home to Newcastle.

Norwich have been here too many times before during a fitful campaign where they never quite manage to break the cycle and earn the luxury of looking upwards rather than casting nervous glances towards those circling below. Martin is adamant one of the tightest survival scraps in recent times will endure right until May. He is not alone in such an assessment, but you can hardly overstate this period carries so much transformative potential with league trips to Cardiff and West Ham on the horizon after hosting a resurgent Newcastle.

Hull must be more than just a brief moment of respite in a fallow period since the battling away win at West Brom. City’s play during the intervening games has brought grounds for optimism and pessimism in equal measure. Norwich deserved much more than a home defeat to Manchester United in unfortunate circumstances after Danny Welbeck pounced on defensive hesitancy in a contest where Norwich had pinned the champions back.

Sunderland was another game rooted in the same levels of defiance without the ball that City had shown at the Hawthorns, but without the degree of precision that could have brought them greater reward. Ricky van Wolfswinkel made his long-awaited comeback from injury on Wearside and spurned a chance in the closing stages to take out his frustrations on the Black Cats. But in the debit column, Fulham’s Boxing Day win was an exercise in festive futility where another tempting chance to gain real Premier League mobility was spurned against the struggling Cottagers; a result compounded by a sterile FA Cup replay exit to the same opponents which intensified the focus on Hughton’s job status.

Norwich have a chance to break the cycle once again in the coming days with a win against his former club, but another lost opportunity will also spark fresh frustration.

Alan Pardew’s squad look genuine contenders for European football next season but Newcastle’s visit should hardly trigger palpations within the home ranks. Hughton’s critics highlight his propensity to shower praise on Norwich’s opponents or even his willingness to forever frame the Canaries’ Premier League task within the context of a fight against-the-odds, but he will know City’s upcoming run carries the potential for a great leap forward.

The injury returns of Alex Tettey and Anthony Pilkington against the Tigers was a positive signal and there is still time left in the transfer window for Norwich to further reinforce, but inevitably it is the top end of the pitch that holds the key.

Hughton has paired Gary Hooper and van Wolfswinkel in tandem during the past two games with limited success in the hope one or both can decisively underline why City were so keen to acquire their services in the summer. A genuine cutting edge to Norwich’s play is the one tangible factor that will reduce the tension levels over the coming weeks.

36 comments

  • Someone was either bored at his desk or went on a 'stating the bleeding obvious' training course in the week. That said, Wellbecks goal didn't come from a lapse in defence but a lucky rebound that sent him through to a good finish. And if Newcastle are 'resurgent' and genuine contenders for Europe, then Hoots will be right to big up the opposition and yes they should send a few 'palpations' - although I doubt it because in interviews most of the team seem to have confidence in themselves. If the CR 'faithful' resist the urge to groan every time they try something creative that doesn't work first time then they can have confidence on the pitch too.

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    Dan

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • "4 wins, 2 draws and 10 defeats!"..Yeah well the 10 defeats bit should certainly be achieveable Lincs . I'll get back to you on the other results...OTBC.

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    Timbo

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • I suspect money might have had something to do with it Waclor

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Steely was he in a yellow car with red wheel arches? Was his companion on a bike wearing a hat with a bell on the end. That would be Lawrenson then; he's a bellend.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Hughton "bigging up"? What he consistently bigs up or reminds us of is the difficulty of keeping a team like Norwich in the premier league. I suspect that he believes that no team outside of London, Liverpool or Manchester is worthy of a place in the premier and that finishing in 17th place is a very creditable achievement. Aim low and achieve nothing, truly pathetic. Why did he ever accept the job if he had doubts like that?

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    waclor

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • If both Norwich and Newcastle are out of the FA Cup why couldn't they play their premier game today instead of Tuesday evening?

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    Lobbo

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Tried to answer you Dan. I agree now too late to sack Hughton until the end of the season unless the position really looks hopeless. At the end of the season he has to go though. Is this ok Archant?

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Dan I don't know too much about Steve Clarke but I would never say Ian Holloway is lacking in self belief or pathetic. On the contrary he always gives it his best shot, his teams appear to play with the belief that they can win and in interviews he is always bullish. On the other hand his teams get relegated and he gets the sack but please ignore this as I hate facts getting in the way of my opinions. PS Hoof The Hoot. He is pathetic.

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    waclor

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • No but Holloway recognised that his team weren't good enough to compete. The only difference between him and CH is CH believes he can be successful against tough opposition. BTW for reference my foot is firmly in the "we shouldn't sack the manager because it won't make a different at this stage of the season but my god it's boring watching at the moment and it would be lovely if it could improve" camp. :-)

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    Dan

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Exactly. There's a difference between a pessimist and a realist. I suppose Waclor that Ian Holloway is also pathetic, and so was Steve Clarke at WBA. Oh and their Chief Executive - both who wrote in the WBA v City programme this season about the dangers of setting your targets too high.

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    Dan

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • There are green-eyed yellow Idlers to the North of Carrow Rewd..... For your amusement, Mattias. ;-)

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • That one twice; everything else ethered. Gets weirder.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • Regardless of beating Hull even the most green & yellowed eyed fan cant deny it was a shocker of a game. I would personally still make changes, as hopefully the players returning from injury are closer to match fitness + Jonas Gutierrez is not able to play.Newcastle will be much much much more of a threat than Hull were. They also wont be missing virtually all there squad like they were last year when we just about managed the most boring 0-0 in history. Still convinced Hoolahan will have some sort of big say in the result whether its through a shock start and MOTM performance or a winning goal, after all the garbage and tross ive heard regarding him in the last week. Would just be typical.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • 10th of December 2012, we score four, yes four goals from a Norwich side in the Premiership.. Including two for Holt and one for Hoolahoop. Something similar on Tuesday night and we may all think Hughton is the new Messiah. If it doesn't then we'll assume that we're going to get served up the same boring cr*p as we have been getting for the rest of the season OTBC!

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    Gruff

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • I hate to say it but they have been very consistent - in failing to deliver what we expect of them. There have been too many games where they have not 'turned up', not pressured the other team, etc. We all want and need to give them our support but they have to play their part as well. With regard to the comments about it being the 'top end of the pitch that holds the key, playing two, instead of one, real striker will help and if the two wide players start to contribute too that would make a real difference. If those supporting the front two do not give them effective service then surely the problem lies further back? Strikers do need to take their chances but it is up to the rest of team to give them those chances.

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    andy

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Steely - There should be a poll for the most narcissistic footy pundit. Kaptain Krispie would certainly vote for himself, on reflection. I think I`ve heard that somewhere before - perhaps it`s an echo of one of Krispie`s old cast-offs? waclor, Lowstuff`s finest, `The Darkness`, did a nice line in b€ll€nd references in their Xmas record. Best one is "Let the bells` end ring peace". Approx. Cheeky boys!

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • I hear you Brewer. We seem to have damp firewood at the moment.

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    Swiss Canary

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Old Timer.? But...apart from that you quite like him..?

    Report this comment

    Timbo

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Ethered. Again.

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    Mad Brewer

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • That wouldn't be Noddy by any chance would it?

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • DJ, Ashton was a bad example; we still got relegated. How about the signing of Laurie Brown in the sixties? An inspiring captain who kept us in the old second division. the manager was Lol Morgan. Don't suppose in these days of textspeak, a manager would want "Lol" in front of his name. Hoof The Hoot Lol.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Tried to answer you Dan. I agree now too late to sack Hughton until the end of the season unless the position really looks hopeless. At the end of the season he has to go though. Is this ok Archant?

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Strange thing is the beeb were paying him £3m per year. Yet there is no live football anymore on the beeb other than the WC every four years. Old rope comes to mind.

    Report this comment

    Steely Dan

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Amid all the pessimism lets look to the stats (or would you prefer the stars) and see if there is cause for hope? For example, the current bottom three have each won just 4 games out of 22 and to reach the magic 40pts need 7 wins and a draw from a mere 16 games. Then go back over the seasons as far as our relegation in 0405 and consider that only once has 40 points been needed to survive. Par is nearer 37 points. That leaves us looking for 4 wins, 2 draws and 10 defeats! Feel better?.

    Report this comment

    Lincs Canary

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Agreed, Andy. Norwich have been consistent.....consistently poor. Doesn't mean "always" poor, just "regularly", "frequently" and "customarily" poor.If it were otherwise we wouldn't be in a relegation fight. Anyway, that concludes my visit to the dictionary which replaced the usual activity of listening to the comely Charlotte Green reading the PL results. Leaving aside the erroneous headline, the rest of Mr Davitt's article is about as edifying as the music in a department store lift. I suppose he has to turn out a certain quota of copy everyday, so inevitably some of it will be waffle (bit like me really...except I do it for love). One suggestion for Mr Davitt's next outpouring might be Lobbo's point about Norwich playing on Tuesday instead of today.....a good point, well made. I don't buy Waclor's theory about Big Ears, nor BP's money theory...but at least they both had a stab. I think the better explanation is that once in a while people like Paddy Davitt and me need to show our creative side in the absence of a fresh crop of Saturday PL results spewing out of the teleprinter. Marks out of 10?

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    User Removed

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Well realising your potential is not the same as setting targets. These players, under CH, are not realising their potential. Our team is not as good as it could and should be. That is the fault of CH, and that is why he needs to go.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Lincs Canary, sounds better that way of course but reality is we only have a 5 point advantage over the bottom 3 with an awful goal difference. We have enough quality to get the points remaining but it's going to go to the wire I guess and there will be a very thin line between surviving and dropping. The next days will be very interesting - Cardiff have bought into 3 so far but not much business has been done elsewhere. Would have loved to see us make a marquee signing of someone who could make a big impact in the remaining games ala Dean Ashton type purchase. Given the lack of business in this window overall, I can see the last night of the window going a bit crazy with some panic moves. I guess the board will stick with CH until end of season now unless we suddenly lose 5 on the bounce. Squeaky bum time..... OTBC

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    DJ_FRAMBOISE

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • The answer Lobbo is because the BBC had already given Big Ears the night off.

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    waclor

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Saw a picture if Big Ears the other day in the paper. Strolling down the beach with his new bimbo. Think he is in Barbados.

    Report this comment

    Steely Dan

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Steely - There should be a poll for the most narcissistic footy pundit. Kaptain Krispie would certainly vote for himself, on reflection. I think I`ve heard that somewhere before - perhaps it`s an echo of one of Krispie`s old cast-offs? waclor, Lowstuff`s finest, `The Darkness`, did a nice line in bellend references in their Xmas record. Best one is "Let the bells` end ring peace". Approx. Cheeky boys!

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again. Hughton and his pathetic coaches set incredibly low standards when they came to our club, and so far they have failed to live up even to those. The man is a stubborn, insipid manager with absolutely no idea of how to get the best out of what are essentially good players. Not world class superstars I grant you, but internationals and highly regarded youngsters. His refusal to accept that cack handed wingers are a waste of time, a midfield with no flair player whatsoever,so consequently no service to the strikers, telling all and sundry about how good the opposition is before we set foot on the field instead of telling our team how good they could be, no Plan B (was there ever a Plan A)? late subs that are always like for like anyway, and usually to protect a deficit. That is why most supporters want him and his Fred Carno coaches gone.

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    oldtimer

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Yawn yawn, still no ncfc incoming transfer activity! BORED

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    Henry

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Tim Sherwood recently said that football was about players, not formations. While players need to know their `duties` they also need the spontaneity to be creative. They are not plastic mannequins suspended from steel rods in an oversized game of table football. Sherwood has brought freedom - and Adebayor - back to his team and so far Spurs have done well as a result. He must be pals with Hoots..... We need an inspirational Captain.

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    Mad Brewer

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

  • Often wondered if Snoddy refers to his manager as "Hoots Mon". What do you think?

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Can't disagree with that Oldtimer. Hoof The Hoot.

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    waclor

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

  • Forgotten which pundit\manager said it, but the game is as much about players as formations. They`re not impaled on steel rods in a rigid game of oversize table football. They do have individual brains and skills of judgement, don`t they? Eureka! I think the guy who said it recently was the shy and retiring Tim Sherwood. He seems to have made an impact at Spurs very quickly indeed. He must be pals with Hoots - exchange notes, guys! The players need to know their `duties` but they also need to be capable of a bit of spontaneity\creativity. Sherwood brought Adebayor back into the fold and he`s scoring for fun - and with fun. It rubs off on the rest of the team. Banging the same old drum; I believe we need a leader on the pitch, a real Captain.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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