Friday, February 15, 2013
These are frustrating times for Canary fans brought up on the flowing attacking football that is synonymous with our club.
Just as in the Newcastle game, City and their opponents completely cancelled each other out in a game devoid of excitement or any real incident of note. It was, quite frankly, awful to watch and the end couldn’t come soon enough.
Fulham came to Carrow Road with little ambition and were content to play the game at a gentle pace with as many delays as possible.
In fact, there were occasions when I thought that Mark Schwarzer had slipped into a catatonic trance when faced with the onerous task of taking a goalkick.
Then, of course, there was the enigma that is Dimitar Berbatov, a man for whom the word languid might have been invented.
While some players appear laid back, Berbatov frequently exudes a sense of deep ennui, and there were times when I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him puffing on a Gauloise, sipping a citron presse and reading a Sartre novel while the game went on around him.
It must be incredibly frustrating for Fulham fans, because it often seemed that if Berbatov were to really stir himself he could produce a match winning moment, yet he slowly became less of a factor, or perhaps he was simply dwelling on the basic futility of human existence. By the final whistle I certainly was.
With Villa’s win on Sunday the bottom three is starting to appear rather larger in the rear view mirror and perhaps the two week break before the Everton game has come at a good time as there are clearly problems to resolve.
While the obvious one is the lack of goals, I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that City’s best home performances have come against sides who have played an open game.
The two Manchester clubs, Spurs and Arsenal all attacked and therefore left gaps to exploit. Newcastle and Fulham came with the intention of taking a point first and foremost and in both cases City were unable to break down well-organised defences.
This is something of a concern as more sides are coming to Norwich with a cautious approach and, indeed, most of the pack in which City currently find themselves all seem to be trying to grind out results.
Just as last week the basic problems seemed to be poor passing and ball retention and a laboured build up, and there is nothing more frustrating than seeing possession conceded when a player is under little pressure.
One thing that was particularly disappointing was the fact that there seemed to be a reluctance to run at players and so disrupt Fulham’s defensive shape.
Far too often the visitors were able to get men behind the ball and make it hard for City to find space around the box with Fulham’s centre backs dealing with crosses relatively comfortably.
Football is all about getting your opponents out of their comfort zone, yet on Saturday the composure of the Fulham back four was rarely disturbed at any point, and consequently the enthusiasm of the City faithful was slowly eroded.
Having said that, the way that the crowd was lifted by the directness of Kei Kamara in his short cameo shows just how much more engaged the fans can become.
However, they need something to lift them and there was precious little on Saturday.
Just as in the early part of the season I am confident that City have the manager and the players to ensure that we are watching Premier League football at Carrow Road next season, but I’m sure that all of us will be happier if that elusive win comes sooner rather than later.