Sorry Norwich City second best again in a 2-1 Championship defeat to Brentford
PUBLISHED: 02:29 23 December 2017 | UPDATED: 02:29 23 December 2017
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Lasse Vibe’s first half brace condemned Norwich City to another Championship defeat on Friday night, to make it one win in the last 11 league games.
Vibe latched onto Romain Sawyers’ service to punish Daniel Farke’s lacklustre side before Nelson Oliveira slammed home deep in stoppage time.
Angry City fans vented their fury in the direction of the club’s owners just seconds before Oliveira’s consolation following another drab offering at Carrow Road.
Farke named an unchanged line up from the team who had succumbed at Elland Road; in isolation, by no stretch the worst performance of the German’s faltering reign.
But there was a lethargy and a lack of intensity in the opening moments that did nothing to back up the pre-match words all is calm inside the City squad.
Bar a first half flurry, when Mario Vrancic failed to react quick enough to divert Marley Watkins’ glancing header two yards out and Nelson Oliveira and Timm Klose went close with follow up efforts, City’s play was laboured and casual.
Romaine Sawyers schooled Harrison Reed and Vrancic as he roamed in front of a defence routinely exposed and reliant on the reflexes of Angus Gunn.
Sawyer’s found in Lasse Vibe a willing accomplice.
The Bees’ forward was sharp and incisive in the moments that mattered. He had plenty of opportunity to hone his predatory instincts in a sluggish opening quarter from the hosts that sadly set the tone.
With Tom Trybull and Alex Tettey fit and available the case to restore them to the ranks - after their impressive double act underpinned Norwich’s best period of this gruelling campaign - was compelling.
Farke resisted the urge.
His philosophy remains wedded to building the play with patient possession.
It is not working. It has not worked from the early moments of the season.
That revisionism we saw in the immediate aftermath of a heavy loss at Millwall remains stubbornly absent right now.
This festive period contained enough favourable fixtures to extricate the Canaries from the lowest reaches. Now games at Birmingham and Burton look full of pitfalls, before the Lions arrive at Carrow Road to ring in 2018.
We will discover soon enough whether Farke can inspire and cajole, whether he can inject a degree of flexibility into the task of earning Championship victories.
Whether talk of revolts and unrest at his training methods is silenced once and for all.
Norwich’s brightest salvo midway through the opening period was sparked by Grant Hanley’s raking punt over the top for Marley Watkins to chase.
Such variety has been all too rare on Farke’s watch. The loudest cheer of the evening was reserved for Jamal Lewis’ senior debut. Farke must be no less brave from here on.
It is no admission of failure or an abandonment of principles to do whatever it takes, to find a way.
What fuels the frustration is we have seen phases of pragmatism.
Wins at Sheffield United, Middlesbrough, Reading and sweetest of all, Ipswich, were dug out; mined through magnificent resolve.
City looked vulnerable whenever Brentford probed prior to the interval.
Ollie Watkins had slammed the inside of a post inside two minutes before Vibe miscued the rebound. Gunn then took off to palm Ollie Watkins’ looping header.
City briefly raised themselves from festive slumbers, but there was an air of inevitability in the manner Sawyers waltzed through to find the unmarked Vibe.
The double act combined again to devastating effect four minutes from the interval. Sawyers’ pass was sublime but Vibe was again left unattended to guide a shot past Gunn.
Alex Pritchard’s corner struck the startled Hanley seven yards out and looped up for Daniel Bentley.
It was symptomatic of a team hoping for some respite, a team feeling sorry for themselves. Derision greeted Oliveira’s skied effort early in the second period.
Vrancic clipped the top of the bar in the 78th minute after lifting his effort over the diving Bentley. Oliveira slammed home in stoppage time but the run is now one win in 11. The Canaries are in negative equity and Farke must do whatever it takes, or the boos and the catcalls that greeted the final whistle will grow louder.
• Norwich City: Gunn, Pinto, Klose, Hanley (Zimmermann 45), Stiepermann (Lewis 68), Reed, Vrancic, Watkins (Murphy 68), Maddison, Pritchard, Oliveira. Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Wildschut, Trybull, Tettey.
• Bookings: Stiepermann (foul on Jozefzoon, 45); Pritchard (unsporting behaviour, 79)
• Goal: Oliveira (90)
• Brentford: Bentley, Bjelland, Jozefzoon (Canos 73), Yennaris, Watkins, Mokotjo (McEachran 82), Woods, Sawyers, Vibe (Maupay 54), Barbet, Mepham. Subs (not used): Daniels (GK), MacLeod, Chatzitheodoridis, Bech Soren.
• Bookings: Sawyers (foul on Pritchard, 58); Maupay (unsporting behaviour, 61)
• Goals: Vibe (36, 41)
• Time added on: 2 minutes / 4 minutes
• Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancs)
• Attendance: 26,725
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