December 7 2013 Latest news:
Friday, December 7, 2012
The omens weren’t promising for Norwich City last weekend. Not only had they never won a Premier League game in front of the Sky cameras on a Sunday, but Mark Lawrenson, whose accuracy in predicting City’s results approximates to that of a broken watch, had tipped them to win.
However, the first 40 minutes of the game saw City produce some stunning one-touch football which, had it been played by a certain team from south Wales, would have generated paroxysms of delight on the Match of the Day sofa.
Of course, that all changed after Craig Gardner’s bolt from the blue just before half-time, but nevertheless City had enough about them to get themselves over the line.
For the record, Lawrenson’s prediction of a 2-1 City win was spot on and he was extremely complimentary about them on Match of the Day 2.
With all due respect to the previous regime, I genuinely believe that City would not have come out of that game with all three points last season, or even early this term for that matter.
After allowing Alex Tettey and Bradley Johnson a great deal of space in the first half, Sunderland pressed harder and defended higher in the second. In doing so they forced City to defend deeper than they would have liked and, as a result were able to get their full-backs, particularly Danny Rose, forward much more, giving their wingers more freedom.
However, whereas last season that would have resulted in dangerous balls flashing across the six-yard box, City’s discipline and positioning kept close range threats to a minimum.
There is always greater tension when a side has to defend deep, not least because the presence of a number of bodies in the box increases the danger of deflections and rebounds. However, the defensive system is now so well ingrained that someone was always on hand to snuff out dangerous situations before they could develop.
In fact, one thing that has struck me this season is how many shots are being blocked at source, which shows how quickly players are being closed down around the box, with Gardner’s goal illustrating why this is so important.
Inevitably there were some moans on Radio Norfolk’s Canary Call and one contributor rather bizarrely suggested that City lack confidence and that this was demonstrated by their failure to win in style.
While the weekly whinges of a minority of City fans tend to generate an indulgent chuckle, there are no excuses for Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph who wrote: “As for Norwich, their upward mobility becomes increasingly difficult to fathom. Their starting XI is ostensibly no better than Championship standard, with the possible exceptions of Bassong and Javier Garrido, formerly of Roma, and yet they continue to defy all doubters.”
While it pains me that someone can actually print such poorly researched nonsense in a national paper (for example, Garrido has never played for Roma) I’m afraid that it illustrates yet again the fact that the London-based media really have no idea about what is going on at City. It would be easy to put it down to parochialism, yet the same media consistently gush about Swansea, who play in a city which is even more remote from the bright lights of the capital.
I will admit that last season there was a certain amount of pleasure to be taken from seeing City underestimated as it increased the surprise factor. Now, however, the lack of respect is really starting to grate.