Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City's 2-2 Championship draw against Blackburn Rovers
PUBLISHED: 17:53 11 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:22 11 March 2017
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Carrow Road
1. Dissension in the ranks - Think again if Alex Neil’s removal was all that was required to get Norwich City’s frustrated fan base back onside. The Scot’s dismissal on Friday afternoon may have sated an appetite for change from the vast majority but there was palpable disenchantment running right through this contest from the point Alex Pritchard was sacrificed, following Mitchell Dijks’ 21st minute red card. Interim manager Alan Irvine was berated with chants of ‘you don’t know what you are doing’. Then once Lucas Joao had headed Rovers in front it was a spontaneous burst of ‘sack the board’. It was like Irvine’s compatriot had never been away; a pertinent reminder removing the former manager is only one part of a complex equation from this point onwards.
2. The beast muzzled - It had to happen given Alex Neil had extolled the virtues of Mitchell Dijks and the manner of his seamless transition to become Norwich’s first choice (and only) recognised senior left-back. The Dutchman’s three-match ban for his ugly first-half lunge over the top of the ball on Marvin Emnes presents whoever is in charge moving forward with a major selection headache. It also robs the Canaries of Dijks’ services. That return to Holland and Ajax would appear to loom ever closer. A longer term stay clearly hinged on City’s upward trajectory and a genuine Premier League promotion push. Norwich fans should enjoy the ‘beast’ while they can, when he returns for the final push in April.
3. Defensive clear out this summer - Alex Neil may have gone but there is no doubt his ‘summer overhaul’ soundbites from his farewell press conference on Friday hold true. Neil made it clear he was prepared to start from the back and address a diabolical concession rate, particularly away from home. Here, playing with 10 men for 70-odd minutes distorted the focus on Norwich’s under-manned backline. But with Mitchell Dijks poised to return to sender at the end of the season, Ivo Pinto making it clear he wants to play at a higher level on Friday afternoon, and serious questions over the futures of Timm Klose, Ryan Bennett, Michael Turner and Seb Bassong there has to be a re-build. Without solid foundations, City can forget any marked improvement in results.
4. Cameron Jerome - The striker’s post-Sheffield Wednesday interview may have triggered the end game that claimed Alex Neil but there is no doubt his recent performances and goal ratio have been one of the few shafts of light. A brace here brought his tally to seven in the last nine games. Given Nelson Oliveira’s injury absence, Jerome has had to shoulder a heavy burden. Few would question he is never going to be in the prolific goalscoring category at this advanced stage of his career but he remains one of the better operators in the second tier with the right service.
5. We await developments - Ed Balls reaffirmed prior to this game there is a timeline in place, starting with next week’s announcement regarding the off-the-field structure. Once that is in place, the search for Alex Neil’s replacement begins in earnest. Read between the lines from any number of interviews conducted by the chairman on the eve of Rovers’ visit and it is clear the top brass seek a cultural and philosophical change to what has gone before. It is not simply a search for another man to prowl the dugout but a co-ordinated, cohesive approach encompassing all facets, from the academy to recruitment. But the bottom line is the new man must get the right tools and the support network to consign this forgettable season to the rubbish bin. Supporters crave the start of a new, more optimistic era rather than the death throes of a failing regime.