No worse feeling than seeing your team, in this case Norwich City, throw away a game
06:30 15 November 2014
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As shocked and angry City fans, not knowing quite what to do with themselves, filed out of the City Ground for the inevitable taunting from the locals last Saturday there was a general consensus that the season is now well and truly off the rails.
A game that City had initially struggled in had become a cruise after Johnny Howson’s goal, but the failure to build on it gave the home side a get-out-of-jail card which they gladly grabbed.
When the fans of the team that’s losing are the only ones singing you know there’s something wrong, and the tension in the City end was palpable in the last 20 minutes as Forest pressure built following Stuart Pearce’s decision to go to three at the back.
It’s unclear why Neil Adams didn’t react to that change, but it seemed symptomatic of a lack of clarity of thought at a time when the introduction of a winger would surely have forced a Forest rethink.
In fact, and not for the first time this season, the City think-tank seemed to be caught between two stools. Should they go for the jugular and try to kill the game off, or consolidate and look to protect the lead? In the end they did neither with any conviction as the tide inexorably turned in Forest’s favour.
Ultimately the only City change served to worsen the situation as Cameron Jerome, who had terrorised the Forest back four, was replaced by Kyle Lafferty whose natural inclination to drop deep or go wide to look for the ball allowed Forest’s central defenders valuable breathing space.
Lafferty’s passion is clear for all to see, but can often result in him trying too hard, both in terms of what he does on the ball and also in his attempts to win it back. In such a mood he is a yellow card waiting to happen and so it proved again on Saturday.
It must be said that Forest’s spirit and sheer desire not to let the game get out of reach even when under the cosh was admirable. However, it contrasted starkly with a City side that currently appears to lack leadership on the pitch and too often seems to see control of possession as an end in itself. The consistent inability to put teams away despite having more of the ball is in danger of becoming the story of City’s campaign.
Last season away trips became a form of masochism for the travelling fans, and with City dropping from top to 10th in six short weeks, with no indication of how or when the decline will be halted, they’re becoming so again. There is no worse feeling than walking away from a ground having seen your team throw away a game that was there for the taking.
The surprise sacking of Mark Robson, pictured, has caused widespread speculation. Was he a sacrificial lamb to appease worried fans or has he been removed to make way for a more seasoned assistant to compensate for Adams’ lack of experience? Certainly the move suggests that Colney is no longer the happy camp of early-season reports.
Fans are trying to be patient, but there is a widespread belief that this season represents the club’s best chance to get back to the Premier League and that that opportunity could soon be lost if the slide continues. No one wants to see Neil Adams fail, but equally no one wants to see the club drift out of the promotion race. There are difficult decisions ahead for the board.