Norwich City: time to throw caution to the wind
As the fifth goal went in at Craven Cottage on the opening day of the season Norwich City fans could be forgiven for fearing a repeat 6-0 scoreline at the same ground that signalled their previous exit from the top flight.
September 12th, 2012
Of more concern, though, was the sight of heads dropping as those early Fulham goals hit the net – a trait notably missing from the previous regime where time and again those players in yellow and green would get themselves back in the game.
Chris Hughton’s first competitive game as a Norwich City manager saw the team line up with one up front with the plan to nullify the home team. These tactics soon failed as Grant Holt cast a lone figure – too isolated from his supply line in midfield, and the team were playing like a group of strangers. Those supporters who love a knee-jerk reaction could see only negative tactics, doom and gloom and ultimately relegation – all this after one game! However, history has taught us that Norwich City don’t do opening games or Craven Cottage so all was not lost.
Hope was restored in the following fixture at home to QPR. Gone was the lone striker and in came a tight unit, free-flowing football and a performance from Robert Snodgrass on the wing that showed his talent and promise. Had it not been for a crossbar and a couple of suspect decisions from the officials then Norwich City would be celebrating a win rather than a draw in their opening Carrow Road fixture.
The Canaries followed this with a rare feat – progression in a cup competition with a 2-1 win over Scunthorpe in the League Cup. Fans at Carrow Road have grown accustomed to the management team preferring to concentrate on the league at the expense of any knockout competition. It’s almost 30 years since those in yellow and green graced the pitch at Wembley, the closest they’ve got since was a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy semi-final defeat to Southampton in 2009. So it was with a familiar feeling of dread when Chris Hughton named a completely different starting XI to the side that faced QPR three days earlier. However, this time those players on the fringe of the first team went out to show the new boss just what they could do – summed up perfectly by Simon Lappin scoring his first goal for the club in almost five years. Next up is Doncaster Rovers at home in the third round of what can now be considered a cup run by Norwich City’s standards.
And so the Canaries entered September with renewed optimism as they travelled to White Hart Lane in what many considered to be their first real test of the season against one of the supposed big clubs. The Chris Hughton era really began on Saturday as only a Man of the Match performance from Spurs keeper Brad Friedel kept the score at 1-1. Norwich City deserved all three points instead of the one but the signs are encouraging for the rest of the season.
If the team can put in more displays like that seen in the north of London last week rather than those witnessed in the west of the capital on the opening day then another mid-table finish should be a realistic aim.
[Photo credit: PA]