Robin Sainty: If you please, Mr Robinson, you're tiring us all out... again
PUBLISHED: 07:24 21 April 2018
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At least we can now resolve the long-standing debate about how to improve the atmosphere at Carrow Road. If the EFL were to appoint Tim Robinson to referee all of City's home games I'm convinced that we would have plenty of noise.
As the home crowd erupted into a chant of “You don’t know what you’re doing!” for the second or third time last Saturday the volume level was higher than at virtually any point in the season, not that it did anything to improve Mr Robinson’s performance which was, if anything, even more unfathomable and inconsistent than in City’s previous encounter with him at Hull in the infamous game of four penalties.
As it was, Robinson’s feeble officiating must have had Neil Warnock rubbing his hands with glee as his inability to stamp out Cardiff’s persistent niggly fouls allowed the visitors to consistently break up the game and prevent City from putting them under concerted pressure.
Cardiff are the archetypal Warnock team, big, physical and largely one-dimensional, and almost the complete antithesis of what Daniel Farke is trying to build, although judging from some of the comments from the crowd the visitors’ policy of “sticking it in the mixer” whenever possible still holds an attraction for some City supporters.
However, to their credit they kept going and were rewarded as City, perhaps for the first time this season, started to exhibit signs of mental tiredness.
Just before the decisive goal the Canaries had been twice caught napping, first by a quick free-kick and then by a short corner, while the long throw which led to Kenneth Zohore’s strike had resulted from two City players leaving the ball to each other before it ran out of play.
Even then the goal should have been avoided as Ivo Pinto failed to push out in line with his fellow defenders and so played Zohore onside, while Angus Gunn will know that he shouldn’t have been beaten at his near post from such a narrow angle.
Perhaps the ultimate difference on Saturday was that Cardiff knew that they had to win and found a second wind, whereas City couldn’t, although losing Harrison Reed, who had totally neutralised the threat of Junior Hoilett, was another factor.
However, there could be no complaints about the effort that City had put in up to that point in a game that was as open, if not more so, than the previous home game against Villa, with the selection of three creative players in City’s midfield signalling Farke’s attacking intent.
Moritz Leitner is a beautiful player to watch, and some of his one-touch passing was exquisite, but I’m not convinced that he and James Maddison, who for the third consecutive game looked jaded after such an arduous season, work particularly well together as they both like to dictate play and consequently often find themselves in the same areas. While the ultimate result was disappointing, there can be no doubt that over the last few games City have started to find an infinitely better balance between defence and attack, and that has been reflected in the reaction of the Carrow Road crowd in the last two home games.
Of course, the lack of a cutting edge is still an issue and will continue to be so until the next transfer window, but the team are now producing chances on a regular basis and breaking free from the dour football of mid-season, all of which augurs well for next season.
However, there are still three games to go and it is important that City lift themselves again after last week’s disappointment against a Preston team that still has everything to play for at a ground where a certain James Maddison, finally given the trust from Alan Irvine which had been denied to him by Alex Neil, made his first significant impact in a City shirt.