Norwich City are better than this - now prove it

There was no hat-trick for Liverpool's Luis Suarez this time, but he made it seven goals in three games against Norwich with another deadly piece of finishing. Picture: Dave Rawcliffe / Focus Images There was no hat-trick for Liverpool's Luis Suarez this time, but he made it seven goals in three games against Norwich with another deadly piece of finishing. Picture: Dave Rawcliffe / Focus Images

Monday, January 21, 2013
10:41 AM

Once the anger receded, this fresh Liverpool mauling offered irrefutable proof that City’s promising Premier League season has stalled.

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A defeat at Anfield against a rejuvenated Reds by itself should be no cause for introspective. It was the manner of the surrender that must not be allowed to linger or taint the crucial battles ahead. For that is where we are now. Norwich’s festive stumble has become a painful fall from the consistent seam of form that underpinned a club-record Premier League unbeaten run.

Chris Hughton’s squad have no option but to roll up their collective sleeves, because with every passing week those clubs below them range ever closer in the rear view mirror.

Liverpool were excellent on the day after Jordan Henderson magnificently found a way to puncture the stirrings of another gameplan rooted in stubborn defiance. Wes Hoolahan kept in reserve and Sebastien Bassong on the sidelines spoke volumes for where the City manager placed this particular test in the batting order. But Hughton and his coaching staff would not have wanted to sift through the collateral damage of a performance every bit as poor as the lowest points of his tenure.

The similarities with Fulham were frightening. Not in the scoreline and the measure of the beating, but in the total disarray amongst the ranks as Liverpool poured forward with impunity. The Canaries, it is no exaggeration to state given the way this game unravelled, were the equal of their illustrious hosts in that opening 25 minute spell. Ryan Bennett will know better than anyone he should have buried Robert Snodgrass’ inviting free kick with Brad Jones to beat six yards out in front of the Kop.

But the brittleness and the apparent willingness to accept their fate was classic Craven Cottage – were it not for the considerable drop in temperature from that opening day sweatbox down by the Thames.

Brendan Rodgers spoke afterwards about the leadership qualities of the recalled Jamie Carragher at the heart of the home defence. Norwich had no-one of his stature capable of corralling the troops into much stiffer resistance. Once Luis Suarez had opened his account for the afternoon to double Liverpool’s lead before the interval, City were in damage limitation mode. A task they failed miserably to accomplish in the second period when the former ‘Kings of Europe’ mercifully declared at five.

The sense of frustration surely felt by those watching the carnage in the away end and those performing in their name was the certain knowledge Norwich are so much better than the paltry measures they served up at Anfield. Use Arsenal and Manchester United at home or Everton and Swansea away as submissions for the defence. In all those four Premier League encounters, the Canaries survived a serious examination of their defensive qualities. To lurch again to the days of Fulham or Chelsea must worry Hughton. Even with key performers like John Ruddy and Bassong absent, a set of players well into their second season at this rarefied level should not be embarrassed in quite such graphic fashion.

Hughton can do nothing about basic individual errors. That is for those he trusted to carry out his instructions – an honest group of players who would readily admit they short-changed those 1,800 souls who braved the snow and ice. But Hughton’s apparent inflexibility when the game was clearly careering away from the visitors is a charge he did have to answer. It was a mark of the man he met the post-match questions head on. To engage Liverpool on their terms, to attack like-for-like and create even more acres for the Reds to exploit was a strategy with little scope for success.

Whether you chose to accept it or not, Liverpool have better attacking players. And they can produce the price tags to prove it. Suarez has waged a one-man crusade against the green and yellow hordes ever since he set foot on these shores.

The Uruguayan brings with him plenty of baggage but, along with Robin van Persie, he has been the class act to this stage of the Premier League season. That Suarez has more chance of being granted the freedom of Manchester than a coronation as player-of-the-year is a reflection of his toxic impact on the English game outside his Merseyside powerbase.

In Daniel Sturridge, Rodgers has astutely added a foil every bit as cunning. The potential for such a partnership to blossom must appeal hugely to those who unite behind the Northern Irishman’s cause.

Norwich’s defence will not be the last this season mesmerized by a speed of thought and intelligent movement perhaps only Manchester’s bitter title rivals could justifiably claim to match in their resources.

But for all the sound logic it is simply not enough for Hughton or his players to accept their fate; to collapse so meekly in the face of a superior opponent. If the antidote to containment was more containment, Liverpool’s second-half onslaught underlined its limitations. The Premier League is an unforgiving environment. Norwich’s pre-festive surge spawned a counter-attacking strategy robust enough to beat the best. Hughton honed a profitable way forward from the wreck of heavy defeats to Liverpool at Carrow Road and Chelsea on the road. But City’s rivals are now finding multiple solutions to unpick the stitching around their style of play. Whether it was Newcastle’s decision to match Norwich at their own game in a drab stalemate last time out at home or Liverpool’s thirst for fluid football played by gifted footballers.

City must seek revisions to the formula. Norwich have the players and the management to comfortably secure their passage for a second season, but Liverpool suggested they need to build again on the sound fundamentals that carried them clear of the lower reaches before Christmas.

Fresh blood is one option, and Norwich have demonstrated in recent days they aim to be active participants in the remaining weeks of this transfer market. But those already here need to raise their collective game again.

City’s squad has talent and character in abundance. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. Adversity is nothing new to a core of players who owe their elevated status and that of their club to a burning desire never to accept their fate in the lower leagues. Days like Liverpool prove how far Norwich have come. But displays like Liverpool prove how far they still have to go.

30 comments

  • Portcullis still down, Pa!!

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • MB Little Benno is just another example of players joining us and not being able to take their individual skills to a higher level.

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    Lobbo

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I wasn`t even allowed to compare Paddy`s Cut`n`Paste technique with that of a proper journalist, Chas Dickens. Prolix`s minders protect him well. Roget Robber shielded from the Keyboard Warrior.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • So why one striker ? fox woul feed jackson and holt. Its been seen many times. poor holt must be pulling his hair out. Its more i think about not getting the ball in. So why buy a new striker ? We only put one on the pitch

    Report this comment

    chimney sweep

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I agree with green tiger, we relied heavily on Ruddy for those 1-0 wins and have gone rapidly downhill without him. Now we are very leaky at the back we have to start scoring the goals again.

    Report this comment

    Henry

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Like DocOhNo, I hope we can reach safety, a tougher task now than it seemed only a month ago. Regarding journalistic merit, I wonder if Charles Dickens ever did "cut & paste"? He would have had to use manual skills - like scissors and a brush! Probably his own material, too. Not a Wikipedia Warrior\Plagiarist\Roget Robber like Prolix Paddy!

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I agree with the Mellow Yellow... midfield, strikers... all very average at the moment but what about defence. Our 10 match unbeaten run was attributed to the belief that CH was finally able to select the defenders HE wanted.... so what the heck is going wrong. We are leaking goals as badly as we were back in the Autumn and this will hasten our demise. Our 'purple patch' was down to clean sheets when one goal would win us a game... can't see that happening at the moment sadly. Nevermind a striker, what about a strong defender!

    Report this comment

    green tiger

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I agree with the Mellow Yellow... midfield, strikers... all very average at the moment but what about defence. Our 10 match unbeaten run was attributed to the belief that CH was finally able to select the defenders HE wanted.... so what the heck is going wrong. We are leaking goals as badly as we were back in the Autumn and this will hasten our demise. Our 'purple patch' was down to clean sheets when one goal would win us a game... can't see that happening at the moment sadly. Nevermind a striker, what about a strong defender!

    Report this comment

    green tiger

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I think this reporter has been reading our postings!

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Careful, wivenhoe, people will start thinking we`re both Pa Snipps! E. Benno on the .... left. Snods on the ....right. Rearrange this well-known daft formation. Chevron rules OK?

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • What happened to Robert Beric? Is it true he turned down Norwich because he felt they lacked ambition and instead signed for Gimingham?

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • hoots really must stop saying how wonderful the opposition is and what brillant players they have.we go out thinking we are beaten before we start.i am sick of it.shanks used to always tell his team that the opposition was useless,and they had nothing to beat,even if it was barcelona.and it worked.

    Report this comment

    bluelight

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I recognise some of that article from different forums, but in truth what does it matter we all think the same, and it doesn't alter the facts. We are heading for trouble, Come on Hughton, the experts all think you are wonderful and a good coach, now is the time to prove that, as well as the players have to prove themselves. We know all about their fighting quailities, but yours I am unsure of. Change things or you will go down as Worthington MkII Time for changes, perhaps some attacking intent we are capable

    Report this comment

    gordon52

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Brew. I'm afraid that Benno is one of the many players that we've signed who hasn't taken their skills to the next level.

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Paddy`s Portcullis slams down. Lily liver!

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I agree with the Mellow Yellow... midfield, strikers... all very average at the moment but what about defence. Our 10 match unbeaten run was attributed to the belief that CH was finally able to select the defenders HE wanted.... so what the heck is going wrong. We are leaking goals as badly as we were back in the Autumn and this will hasten our demise. Our 'purple patch' was down to clean sheets when one goal would win us a game... can't see that happening at the moment sadly. Nevermind a striker, what about a strong defender!

    Report this comment

    green tiger

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • What pudding plays little Benno on the left and Snoddy on the right.answers please to CH at carra rd. and explain to him why it dont work

    Report this comment

    wivenhoebudgie

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Many of the contributors to these columns are no longer engaged in football as we may well have been in the past. Our bodies are worn and can no longer do nutmegs, step-overs, or even leg-overs, but our brains have accumulated much over the years, and we try to bring this to the attention of the newer kids on the block, in the hope that some of it may rub off on them. The goal posts are still in the same places, and to my knowledge they are the same size. The object of the game is to score more goals than your opponents. When the game is not viewed in that way by a manager and his entourage, then I hate to say it but we may have the wrong manager. Are you listening Mr McNally, Delia. Mr Bowket.... I think the time has come to bite the bullet. ... No! Mad Brewer and I are NOT the same person, we just have similar thoughts and ideas about the well being of our Norwich City.... Something I am sure Paddy Davitt could easily confirm.

    Report this comment

    Pa Snipps

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • gordon52 has it:- Fighting Qualities. They were on display for a while, so they must exist. What`s happened to them? Even the "Duracell Bunny", aka Tettey, looks out of sorts. We do miss Bass, Whits & (SPECIALLY) Ruddy. Holty is becoming a peripheral character, isolated as he is. Why Benno on the LEFT and Snods on the RIGHT when the situation was screaming for the opposite? Btw, I am NOT Pa Snipps. (Just one of his many Disciples).

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I don't think Norwich do have the management to seek revisions to the formula. It seems to be that Hoots and his coaches are a one-trick-wonder, lacking the flair and tactical awareness to come up with a plan B. Without asking why a professional footballer can only use one foot, Snodgrass's weakness is common knowledge amongst premiership defenders so the tactic of his attacks down the right wing has been well and truly sussed. Try something new and get some decent coaching staff with new ideas or any ideas other than signing their old mates.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I have just read on sky sports bulletins that CH is in the market for a new striker but people don't understand and how difficult it is as NCFC cannot break the bank in the transfer market. So it is the same old story really NCFC will not sanction spending money on decent players when needed. They had £45 million last season and I would suggest they have spent a maximum of £15 since - so why are we not in a position to compete in the lower reaches of the transfer market. In any case why try to spend £10 on two strikers- pool the resources and pay the required figure to secure the services of one of them and pay the wages of the new goalkeeper!

    Report this comment

    VictorM

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Fair enough it is a "cut and paste" job but there are certain valid points. Player attitude left a lot to be desired on Saturday. I'm not in the Robbie Savage camp but on the end of a 5 nil thrashing why did we only have one player booked? No plan B, why persist through the game with a formation that wasn't working? When we played Jackson up front alone why were we sending in high, floated crosses? Looking at the matches coming up I genuinely believe we'll be safe however these problems do need to be addressed.

    Report this comment

    DocOhNo

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • I agree with the Mellow Yellow... midfield, strikers... all very average at the moment but what about defence. Our 10 match unbeaten run was attributed to the belief that CH was finally able to select the defenders HE wanted.... so what the heck is going wrong. We are leaking goals as badly as we were back in the Autumn and this will hasten our demise. Our 'purple patch' was down to clean sheets when one goal would win us a game... can't see that happening at the moment sadly. Nevermind a striker, what about a strong defender!

    Report this comment

    green tiger

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • What pudding plays little Benno on the left and Snoddy on the right.answers please to CH at carra rd. and explain to him why it dont work .sorry about the double message but 503 reared its ugly head again

    Report this comment

    wivenhoebudgie

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • No Bassong or Ruddy and now city can't grind out the results needed. 5 defeats from the last six and it certainly is worrying times down at Carrow Rd. Where are the goals going to come from? Holt looks a spent force, Morrison no longer a threat. Infact who is looking a goal threat? Remember Hull? 5th in the league at Christmas, relegated by May. City must be nervous with the likes of Reading & Southampton now picking up regular points. A striker in the January window is surely a must for Hughton.

    Report this comment

    Warkys_Tash

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • At least some of my Divot-teasing got thro`, eventually.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • I agree with green tiger, we relied heavily on Ruddy for those 1-0 wins and have gone rapidly downhill without him. Now we are very leaky at the back we have to start scoring the goals again.

    Report this comment

    Henry

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Hoots shows all the traits of a frightened man. Typically he dare not make a decision because then his decision will be to blame. If he does nothing, it's not his fault, right? WRONG. You are the manager now get on and manage.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Pity he didn`t have intrinsic journalistic talent, Lobbo! But plagiarising the Keyboard Warriors is preferable to his norm of regurgitating undigested lumps of Roget`s Thesaurus. What did you think of Little Benno on the LEFT wing? ;-)

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Embarrassing is an understatement. I am so angry about the manner in which we were beaten. Striker issues aside, what worries me the most is the shear lack of invention from our midfield players - this should be our biggest concern. We had five players spanning midfield but we may as well have just had two given the freedom we afforded Gerrard and co. Gerrard as he did at CR earlier this season, had all the time in the world to spray passes all over the place. With that said, if we had atleast rolled our sleeves up and got stuck into them and battled I would feel much better.

    Report this comment

    Mellow_Yellow

    Monday, January 21, 2013

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

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