Norwich City go back to the future to find the answer to Premier League struggles

Norwich City striker Gary Hooper is sent tumbling to the ground by West Ham's Jussi Jaaskelainen in the defining act of the Canaries' 3-1 Premier League win. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City striker Gary Hooper is sent tumbling to the ground by West Ham's Jussi Jaaskelainen in the defining act of the Canaries' 3-1 Premier League win. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Monday, November 11, 2013
8:45 AM

The searing focus on Norwich City’s deficiencies in recent times had served to mask the traits that propelled them ever upwards on an inexorable rise to the Premier League.

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"I think we owe quite a few people. We let the manager down, we let ourselves down and the fans. Everyone really. It is up to us to put in some performances and that is the only way we can forget about what happened, by moving the club back in the right direction."

Michael Turner, on life after Manchester

For the Canaries to realistically survive and flourish in the top flight, Carrow Road must be an intimidating arena for opposition players and managers, not a court of public opinion with Chris Hughton in the dock, as it resembled too often during this fallow spell.

Leroy Fer’s stoppage time goal was greeted by a cacophony of noise last heard on such a scale in the survival-sealing win over West Brom. Hughton stepped aside to leave the stage to his players as the Dutchman embraced the benched Sebastien Bassong before disappearing under a heap of delirious team-mates in front of the home technical area.

It was a symbolic show of unity in stark contrast to an opening hour you feared had sown the seeds for fresh discord and a poisonous finale. One can easily dismiss the latent benefits of a club visibly moving forward together, but it is as relevant now as it was at any point on the giddy ascent from League One.

That Jussi Jaaskelainen proved an unwilling accomplice in the drama was a delicious irony given his obduracy last season in Norfolk. The keeper’s costly spill compounded by an ill-conceived attempt to rectify the situation in hauling Gary Hooper to the ground may carry far-reaching ramifications for both clubs.

At the final whistle it was Sam Allardyce slumped in his dug-out and facing the same awkward line of questioning Hughton has diplomatically deflected for what seems like an interminable period. For that, he need look no further than Norwich’s inability to marry positive patches of performance with definitive results. West Ham must mark a new dawn, not a respite from a mess of the Canaries’ own making.

City’s honesty, inner belief and will to resist in the face of fresh adversity from a well-drilled Hammers’ midfield bordered on the remarkable. Hughton will have known what lay ahead at the final whistle if his side had failed to rouse themselves into concerted action after Ravel Morrison plundered from Kevin Nolan’s cut-back.

City’s management and players were given a taste of the reaction at the half-time interval. To respond as they did and with the wounds inflicted at the Etihad still painfully raw offered season-affirming evidence Norwich can hope for more than chasing a lost cause.

The challenge now is to replicate the same reserves of fighting spirit and quality that defined their efforts in the second period. When Norwich hit such heights and the decibel levels rise in support at Carrow Road they are a formidable foe. Only time will tell if the storm has passed but the release of tension and the waves of relief were palpable in the aftermath of Fer’s cool finish.

City’s players lingered before embarking on what looked like a choreographed tour of all four corners of the stadium in a show of support towards a fan base whose collective patience they had tested to the limit. To retain that backing they must be just as fearless, just as aggressive as they were after the interval to force a streetwise West Ham into submission.

Allardyce bemoaned his keeper’s rare error of mis-judgement, but the game was still in the balance when Hooper slammed home the spot kick. City earned a reprieve when James Collins hooked wide from inside the Norwich penalty area shortly afterwards, but that was a temporary spike in an incessant flow towards the hesistant Finn.

Robert Snodgrass will have enjoyed few sweeter moments at Carrow Road than the emotional release that surged through his battered and bruised body as he watched a sweet free-kick nestle just inside Jaaskelainen’s left-hand upright, with the keeper seemingly frozen in suspended animation. Snodgrass’ personal torment in Canary yellow this season to a large extent has mirrored that of his team. The Scottish international was an easy target for those struggling to comprehend why Norwich have failed to attain the same heights as this stage last year when they were in the midst of a club-record unbeaten surge and Snodgrass was a leading light in an inaugural season that ended in fulsome acclaim.

The prodigious work rate remains a staple ingredient but when he produces sublime individual brilliance on such a grand scale he is a invaluable commodity at Hughton’s disposal.

The international break may now harm rather than hinder the Canaries after fresh momentum was injected into a season that had stalled amidst a torturous exposure to the elite. But it may also provide respite from the fractious atmosphere that had enveloped City’s work. The magnitude of their second half comeback against a West Ham side who slipped below them in the standings re-affirmed the belief that Hughton and his players possess the requisite quality to accompany the graft and toil to compete with the majority of their rivals.

Victory was all that mattered against the Hammers. That it was triggered by Jaaskelainen’s rush of blood was immaterial. Norwich will justifiably feel they have earned a break or two.

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43 comments

  • Thing is Paddy, Hughton is in the dock because of a negative attitude and style of play that pervaded last season and has continued into this. That is at odds with the spirit and traditions of our club. It is particularly bad away from home (I can cite southampton and Reading away last season as examples, and Hull away this season). I don't believe it is as simple as playing 2 up front. You can play with one, but still attack by getting full backs forward and midfielders pushing up. He has shown signs of getting a better balance more recently, but got hit with a difficult series of games. However, he has put himself in that dock and you can't get away from that.

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    Preston Canary

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • "When you catch an adjective, kill it ... An adjective habit ... once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice," said Mark Twain. Mr Davitt, you need to carry out a massacre. You're spoiling things.

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    serinus mozambicus

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • …..not a bad reward for a win Paddy!....'Win One..have a Week Off'..... (WO.WO)!.....

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    Stew Pydsodd

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Apart from the lacklustre first 40 minutes, our boys in Yellow showed plenty of spirit and determination to turn things around. Allardyce can moan all he likes, but anyone who witnessed events unfold would have seen that we won the match - its wasn't gifted to us by West Spam. Howson was again brilliant once our tails went up, as also was Fer and Redmond. Snodgrass was hugely influential to the outcome despite my recent criticisms, and work rate aside underlined why he is key to this team. Lets hope Hooper is now on his way to bagging many more! OTBC!!!

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    Mellow_Yellow

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Spurred, not spurned. My bad.

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    NorthCarolinaCanary

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • I've often wondered whether Hughton might not have been a bit hurt by Holt leaving and criticising him so publicly, because he was always very supportive of Holt when quite a few fans were on his back last season and was instrumental in keeping Holt at the club in the first place last season. Then again, I think Hughton has had attacking intent way up his agenda this season so maybe he respected it and acted accordingly. Would be an interesting memoir piece somewhere down the line.

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • I`ve just seen on a now closed board, that Canaryinslovenia has counted me among the `Hughton apologists`! Balances out the stuff I have had about being a detractor! Thing about a viewpoint is that it is different depending on your own point of view. See my point? Or is it merely a latent, yet prodigious, far-reaching and painfully choreographed raw ramification that is palpably freezing my fractiousness in symbolic suspended animation? Paddy, where`s your thesaurus?

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Apologies Brew, thought you meant Holt returning as a striker. Need to change my specs

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Paddy put the thesaurus down!!

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    MBA Marine

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Troll or not, I might actually agree with a Liz comment for once. Archant, and some posters, seem to be making far more of this performance than I could see. Having said that, it could still prove to be a turning point in our season. The confidence gained (and so lacking for 65 mins or so) could prove invaluable. I hope so.

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    Smudger75

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • First half diabolical, Not seen anything so bad since last relegation season. West Ham even worse than us thank goodness. Second half respectable, but West Ham were worse than in the first half. which made life easier. Bennet OlsonFer and Howson pick of secondsession, Martin loked like he was getting back to form, ELmander not the answer to anything it would seem - time to give Becchio a go? Or ow about half anhour of Redmond through the middle of attack?

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    Pondlife

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • …..Thanks for asking Brew! ….I seem to have shaken off that nasty dose of Yellow Fever that came on quite suddenly!.....could have been the flu jab!.....

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    Stew Pydsodd

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Things started going our way more in the second half, long may it continue, but one swallow doesn't make a summer, as they say in Essex.

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    Swiss Canary

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • Glad to see CH has realised he has been going about team management all wrong. Played fantastic against AstonVilla - LOST Played fantastic against Arsenal - LOST Played fantastic against Chelsea - LOST Played pretty dire against West Ham - WON 3-1 Keep being dire and we might make top 10 yet..

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    Carman

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • …..Hello Bald Eagle sitting under the rug!..... Brew is getting the credit or the ridicule for talking about Holt making a return...Quite unfairly as I and another like minded contributor have been suggesting that for some time.... He took away the spark from the other players when he was ousted , and we have not recovered yet!….there has to be a massive change of personnel behind the scenes for his return to happen, not as a player but as an example of fighting spirit with a positive approach to Scoring Goals.....

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    Stew Pydsodd

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Couldn't agree more LYB. It is known that Fer and Bassong get on well. Fer ran to Bassong - the rest of the team followed him. Whether they wanted to celebrate with CH or not is irrelevant. The point is (and was made on the Sky coverage) that anyone who might have suggested that CH had lost the dressing room, or that the City players don't have fight in them, are wrong. Confidence is a big thing in sport - and as it grew in the second half (understandably a little short in the first) we got better and better. Now the task is keeping confidence (and, with it, performances) high. I think the fans have a large part to play in that - so, please, let us end pointless discussion about CH - and keep faith in DM and the board to do what they're there to do (their job) - and make decisions as and when required. Until then - everyone behind the team (per second half vs West Sham) and who knows, maybe 10th place (or continuous improvement as it's known at Cara) is not beyond us...

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    PutneyCanary

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • I've had a look at the fixture list, and the next defeat will be Everton away, after yet another ten match unbeaten run. A tenner and three billion to one from Ladbrokes, and enough change to make a donation to the club for said striker. Glorious

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Trevor, there were pretty reliable reports that latterly under Roeder you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. And of course there is the recent Di Canio comedy. Brewer, a much better Paddy parody than the one I was playing with...

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    Pierre

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • I suppose he could come back as my coiffure. Shouldn't cause too much of a ruckass

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Magnificant wallpapering over the ravine sized cracks at ncfc I see. Keep it up !

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    Liz Knott

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Cheers Kristafa, I don't want to get nasty with Hughton, because I would far rather he succeeds at our club. I generally think that managers should be given time, but that gets difficult in an unforgiving environment like the Premier League. I would love it if he could be here for six or seven years because that would mean that he has grown as a manager and been successful with it. I think he has shown signs of being more positive, but still feel he has to learn a bit quicker and react more quickly sometimes. I also still feel that we need to add a fresh face into the coaching team to improve their forward play. I hope he does get there because if he is sacked then it means we are really in trouble.

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    Preston Canary

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • We must face facts as we are still only a point outside of the bottom three, so need to keep the run going. Given our goals against column this means we are still on the knife edge to say the least but at least it gives CH time to sort out his team, esecially the defense as that was another poor goal we conceded. That is not to under estimate the plus points with another great second half by Howson and Fer. I thought Snodgrass put in a great 90 minutes together with some good early balls into the box, especially in the second half. I still think we need to find a decent target man as Elmander did not look up to it for too much of the game.

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    TrevorKeith

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • toupee or not toupee , nor there's the question. Bill whats the answer[gotta go]

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    wivenhoebudgie

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • "Jussi Jaaskelainen... in hauling Gary Hooper to the ground". What rubbish football cliché reporting. He stretched his arm out for the ball in front of Hooper, who tripped over it. We have seen some examples of 'hauling to the ground' of City players in the opposition penalty area, but so far, without a whistle being blown in anger.

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    Russianality

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Wasn't Holt's departure somewhat spurned by a desire to move closer to his family? That seemed to be a big part of the equation if I remember correctly.

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    NorthCarolinaCanary

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • …..He could return Brew!....but is he manager material?.....

    Report this comment

    Stew Pydsodd

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Or there`s a veteran at Wigan maybe could do the job....

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Preston Canary , excellent comment, very well put together without the need to get nasty, keep up with the good work !.

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    Kristafa

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • Come on Paddy.We know you have to earn your corn but your reports are getting a bit heavy.I cant keep doing with looking in my dictionary to find out what you are saying

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    Trevor Sadd

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • LYB, I was not suggesting Holt as a manager, just a wry aside about the sort of target man we are maybe missing. That said, I wouldn`t write Holt off as a potential manager - he`s a bright bloke. Suspect he`ll stay oop north for a while yet anyway. Unless Calderwood joins Wigan.....

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • TrevorS & MBA, I`m glad you said it first! On another board, The Padster headlines Bassong`s "snub". Now it IS Thesaurus time, young Patrick; "Snub:- rebuff, ignore or spurn disdainfully". Sounds like Hoots`s style, doesn`t it? TK, could they give Becchio a try? Just a thought.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Did Hughton step aside from the celebrations of Fer or did the players chose not to go to him - either way it was evident that Fer thought he had proven a point to somebody on that bench.

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    VictorM

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Couldn't agree more MBA

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    Trevor Sadd

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Totally agree with PC, however, I also think it is a case of playing a formation that suits the players you have and likewise, buying the players that suit the formation you intend to play. On that front, I do not think CH went out and purchased the right type of striker to suit a 4, 5, 1 formation as Becchio, Hooper and RVW are all the old style No 10 players. Elmander should be able to play the loan striker role but I fear his best days are behind him and at times he appears to lack motivation.

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    TrevorKeith

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • I think few managers ever actually lose the support of the team, the players simply use that excuse when things are not going right, and pass the blame on elsewhere. However, full credit should be given to CH for managing to change the team tactics at half time and turn the game around in our favour. I have to say I would have taken Elmander off and switched to a 4, 5, 1 as soon as we went 2 - 1 up but CH stuck to his guns and got his reward. Still early days as we are only a point outside the bottom three so the team needs to give 100% and the supporters likewise. A point at Newcastle would be an acheivement right now that is for sure and we need to go there with belief in the team.

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    TrevorKeith

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • It really is laughable that people like VictorM question whether the team support Hughton or not. If they'd wanted Hughton out then all they had to do was sit back after West Ham took the lead, lose the game and let the board do the rest. As it was, they started off jittery, which is not unexpected given the recent results, listened to the manager at half time and turned it around in a very convincing manner. Brew, much as I adore Mr Holt, I don't think he's necessarily manager material. Attacking coach on the other hand...

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Agree with you PC. Its how you support the front man. Other teams do it all the time. We are getting there.IMO. Lets be honest though we were an interchanging front two that worked ok in the second half. When we got the pen the nervousness went out and the confidence came in OTBC

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    sharky

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • What a difference a week makes!!! Where's the vitriol gone which was aimed at CH??? Make no mistake, we were bad in the first half on Saturday and had it been one of the "better" clubs we apparently shouldn't expect to beat, we would have been well beaten. Good to see CH had the temerity to change things about for the second half - a much needed three points given the 'rejuvenated' Sunderland scoreline. But it's Liverpool in three weeks and Suarez - City's nemesis!!! And what the heck is this talk about Holt returning. Nooooooooooooooo!

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    green tiger

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Given his recent performances I don't think Fer has had a point to prove to anyone VictorM. Again, another City fan reading too much into what is said and done.

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    Mellow_Yellow

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • …..Or one snowflake a White Christmas!.....

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    Stew Pydsodd

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  • How much money have we got left? Elmander tries hard, very hard actually, but might be better off pulling a plough. Becchio, possibly, but I really can't see it, and anyway, Chrissie doesn't love him. The Horse has long since bolted Brew, and he doesn't love Chrissie. What we could do, is ? buy a new striker in January. Ok, yes its a way off. Who might it be though? Couple of mill perhaps? Needs to be a good one though. Failing that, we could buy some new plasters for Wolfie's toe. I am happy though, considerably happier, and don't feel as though we're looking down the barrel of a gun anymore. Not even Ged's sister is going to get up my nose any more, and I've decided to keep the hairpeice until we next lose, which I predict will be sometime in January. Be gone moaning types, henceforth be gone and adieu.

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • Hi, Stew. How are you, you old armchair curmudgeon? ;-)

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, November 11, 2013

  • We must face facts as we are still only a point outside of the bottom three, so need to keep the run going. Given our goals against column this means we are still on the knife edge to say the least but at least it gives CH time to sort out his team, esecially the defense as that was another poor goal we conceded. That is not to under estimate the plus points with another great second half by Howson and Fer. I thought Snodgrass put in a great 90 minutes together with some good early balls into the box, especially in the second half. I still think we need to find a decent target man as Elmander did not look up to it for too much of the game.

    Report this comment

    TrevorKeith

    Monday, November 11, 2013

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