David Powles: Down but not out - 90 minutes which echoed Norwich City's season so far
PUBLISHED: 06:30 30 January 2014
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
For those who missed the game, those Norwich City v Newcastle highlights in full:
n When Robert Snodgrass fell out with the Snakepit before both parties spent the rest of the night doing that thing where they are over nice to each other, like a couple when they argue, before making up.
n A pitch invader in the shape of a black bin bag. It wasn’t hard to make a quip about all the rubbish on the pitch being placed in it.
n The ruck near the end. I know we should be po-faced and serious about them, but everyone loves an on-the-pitch rumble.
n Err, that’s it.
Oh, I did enjoy a fantastic pre-match meal at Hot Chip washed down by two pints at the King’s Arms on Hall Road beforehand – but the club can’t really expect to get credit for that.
It really was that type of game – yet still Norwich City managed to come away with a point that moves them closer to Premier League safety. It was a performance and result echoing the season so far – dire in general, but Chris Hughton’s team scrapes through.
By the end of the first half even that was looking unlikely and Newcastle should have been two or three up – and if that had happened it’s certain the atmosphere would have been very toxic.
At home you can often rely on Norwich to be a club that starts well – it’s sustaining that momentum that’s normally the problem – but that didn’t happen on Tuesday night.
I wondered if Newcastle had sneaked a 12th man onto the pitch, such was their domination.
The Canaries looked every bit a side low on confidence – and that was shown by the actions of not just Snodgrass, but Sebastien Bassong as well – arguing with the crowd when things start to go wrong.
The second-half performance was certainly an improvement and bringing on the often all-too-ineffective Johan Elmander actually worked as he was able to hold the ball up that little bit more.
It also helped that Leroy Fer finally found his feet (he needs a rest, but that’s highly unlikely to come anytime soon) and Alex Tettey made a positive cameo, doing the simple things well. But it never looked likely Norwich would do enough to secure the three points.
With just a day left of the transfer window it was a game that further highlighted the need for a player or two to arrive and help the club to safety. So far most of the rumours I’ve seen surround central defensive and midfield options, but I’d argue an extra offensive option is required.
While injury cover may be needed in these areas, a record of just five goals conceded in the last six games, but only three goals scored, backs that up.
While Gary Hooper continues to look lively, it’s sad to say Ricky Van Wolfswinkel looks to be suffering a massive crisis of confidence.
I can’t proclaim to know his state of mind, but his body language and performances remind me of Fernando Torres shortly after he arrived at Chelsea. Nothing is falling for him, runs lead to nowhere, he looks a little lost and he’s generally on the periphery of the game.
Don’t rule him out yet – he’s young and often foreign imports need a season to find their feet (even Iwan Roberts struggled in his first season). But if Hughton isn’t prepared to trust Luciano Becchio to do a job, the stakes are too high to simply hope the Dutchman finds his goalscoring touch.
Ultimately what this squad really needs is a player who possesses a bit of creativity, can create a goal with one sublime pass and even chip in with a couple of his own. If only there was a diminutive Irishman on his way out of his current club to fit that bill.