Norwich City’s players have to prove there’s a bit of fight left in them
17:29 28 April 2014
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No Norwich City players came out to comment on their Premier League defeat at Manchester United on Saturday evening. Or their performance. Or on their second-half Old Trafford collapse – something that has been a regular, but sadly not exclusive feature, of City’s trips to Manchester this term.
The weekend made it 15 goals conceded in their three games in the city this season.
That isn’t to say none of the players would have wanted to speak. Just like the fact some of the City players do continue to answer questions about their character in the right way on the pitch.
But some don’t. And maybe, like the chance to speak after another dispiriting defeat, some won’t.
For most of what has proved a horrible season to endure – especially away from Carrow Road – it has been the manager who has taken blame; who has been pointed at. All failings falling at his door.
Yet with Neil Adams now in charge following Chris Hughton’s eventual dispatching, there is little left to protect the players. And there are a number of things that deserve to be questioned.
For example, the character. Clearly the players care – but the collective way they have dealt with setbacks as simple as conceding a goal, both home and away, hasn’t been good enough all season.
The support that has followed the club across the country, and almost always started off in good voice for each fixture, has deserved better than to see their side fail to get themselves back into a game – or worse, concede a handful more.
We’ve repeatedly heard the players are desperate to fight for each other – but even they would struggle to point out as many examples of when it’s happened on the pitch.
By this point in the season, you can also start to look at the summer recruits. Those aimed at improving the Canaries’ squad on the club’s third season in the top flight.
Too many have failed to take their chance, been found wanting or are simply not ready for the step up.
The fact one or all of these applies to so many of them, means Norwich City almost certainly won’t be able to afford the patience for them to come good and reap that benefit in the Premier League.
Of course, it’s not over yet. And perhaps it’s a minor achievement that it can’t be over next weekend either. Norwich City may yet pull off one of the greatest escapes in their history – and prove they do have the character, the fight and the ability currently being doubted.
But if they don’t, then Ryan Giggs’ first game as interim manager at Old Trafford will be only a footnote in City’s relegation story. It was possibly the unluckiest of timings for them – but only as unlucky as failing to equalise away from home all season, losing twice to Fulham, taking one point off Cardiff and so far proving they are not good enough to stay in the Premier League for another season.