Friday, January 4, 2013
Well, the festive season is well and truly over and there hasn’t been too much to cheer about down at Carrow Road. Four defeats in 11 days over the Christmas period have left people starting to look over their shoulders.
It was never going to be easy for the lads when they had to play both Chelsea (champions of Europe) and Manchester City (Premier League Champions) at home, with two difficult away games at WBA and West Ham either side of each fixture. However, I don’t think any one of us expected Norwich City to come away empty-handed from the four games after the recent form they’ve shown.
I think the disappointing thing is that they’ve lost all four games by the odd goal, and even against Chelsea and Manchester City they were right in the game until the very final whistle, so a certain amount of credit must go to the team, especially against Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City.
Having conceded two goals in the opening four minutes of the game, many teams would have folded and gone on to be heavily beaten, but not Chris Hughton’s men.
They fought tooth and nail with Mancini’s expensive side and pushed them all the way, and for the courage and determination they displayed in dragging themselves back from that very early setback the lads need to be applauded, especially when you think that before last Saturday’s game Manchester City had the best defensive record away from home in the Premier League having conceded just seven goals in their nine games on the road.
Norwich went into the game in East London on New Year’s Day without Grant Holt, Steve Morison, and the suspended Bradley Johnson. Upton Park is a fantastic ground to play at.
I used to love playing there but it was never the luckiest of grounds for me. In fact the only time I think I’ve ever picked up a point there is when we drew 1-1 back in October 2003 when big Crouchy scored for us. There’s always a terrific atmosphere with a very passionate following behind them.
Having seen the highlights of the game I thought the lads were a bit unfortunate not to take a point from the game, and maybe had the performance of the referee Mark Clattenburg been a bit more consistent I’m sure they would have. I thought he had a poor day and got some important decisions wrong that proved costly for the Canaries:
1. He awarded West Ham a penalty when he judged that Ryan Bennett had pulled the shirt of Winston Reid. I think Ryan did have a handful of Reid’s shirt but if you’re going to give a penalty for that then you will be awarding 20 penalties every game as you see that type of incident from every set piece that’s put in to the penalty box. I’ve done it myself many times, making sure that the man I’m marking doesn’t score by grabbing his shirt or arm.
2. Winston Reid handled the ball in his own penalty box but Clattenburg thought it was unintentional. He might be right in this case, but whenever a player holds his arms out in the air he knows there’s a risk he will give away a penalty, whether the handball is intentional or not.
3. Should the ref have stopped the game when Alex Tettey picked up a nasty injury after Carlton Cole had landed on his back? Mr Clattenburg decided not to stop play and West Ham went on to score their crucial second goal.
4. Should Norwich have had a penalty when Harry Kane tumbled in the box under pressure from James Tomkins? I understand that referees get a split second to make a decision and we’re fortunate to see action replays on TV, but why would Harry fall when he was through on goal if he hadn’t been touched? And if he dived, why wasn’t he shown the yellow card? It’s either a penalty or a dive.
That’s four big decisions that didn’t go the Canaries’ way on Tuesday. Add to that the challenge by Vincent Kompany that lead to Manchester City’s second goal last Saturday and I think that Chris and the lads have been unlucky with regards to officiating decisions.
• CITY’S NEED FOR A GOALSCORER CLEAR FOR ALL TO SEE
The January transfer window has opened and I’m sure all of you will have your opinions on where the manager should strengthen.
I think the club needs to bring in a couple of new faces to freshen things up, and for me the priority would be a goalscorer.
Someone who could maybe get you eight to ten goals in the remaining 17 games.
To be fair if you were to ask any manager at this time what he’s looking for in this transfer window I bet you 99 per cent of them would say just that.
You have to pay big money to get those types of players in, as they can be the difference between failure and success.
But with the financial rewards for staying in the Premier League this season being so great, surely it would be worth the gamble.
I’m sure that Chris will have his targets, and if he can get them then great, but I don’t think he should panic and just bring someone in just for the sake of it.
It’s the FA Cup third round tomorrow with a trip to London Road to face Peterborough. It’s been a tough first half of the season for Darren Ferguson’s men but they climbed out of the bottom three in the Championship for the first time this season after beating Barnsley on Tuesday, and I’m sure that will have filled them with optimism and confidence going into this game. But I do believe – even if Chris makes a few changes – that Norwich will be too strong for the Posh and progress to the fourth round.
The tie gives the Canaries a great opportunity to bring to an end to this current losing streak, which will only do good for the team’s confidence going into the league fixtures.