Norwich City look at ease amongst Premier League high society

Norwich City push for a winner in a frantic finale to the 0-0 Premier League draw against Manchester City at Carrow Road. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City push for a winner in a frantic finale to the 0-0 Premier League draw against Manchester City at Carrow Road. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Monday, February 10, 2014
8:00 AM

A wonderful sense of liberation swept around Carrow Road after Norwich City’s stirring display against Manchester City.

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"Too often in a campaign of maddening inconsistency they appear to have been buffeted by events and outside forces. For what felt like the first time in a long while, they exhibited a cohesion and a sense of purpose that may convince the doubters."

Paddy Davitt

This was the day when the Blues would re-assert their claims to the Premier League crown after a stumble against Chelsea. It may just be the day Norwich re-discovered the self-belief and renewed that unifying link with their own supporters which will be essential for the final push.

It feels almost churlish to point out the Canaries actually slipped a place closer to the bottom three, given the magnificently resolute statement they delivered against a lavishly-assembled opponent. Manuel Pellegrini offered up the Citizens’ injury worries as mitigation for a fresh anaemic offering in front of goal. That will ring hollow in these parts given the Canaries’ have had to survive on far more meagre resources for the majority of this campaign.

Hughton lost Robert Snodgrass, Jonas Gutierrez and Ryan Bennett in the build-up, in addition to the absences of Michael Turner, Jonny Howson and Elliott Bennett, yet he still melded a formation that proved defensively impervious and carried enough latent attacking threat to have even executed an improbable victory.

That they did not perhaps is further evidence of those seemingly intractable problems in the final third which remain a recurring theme. At Cardiff, it contributed to a debilitating defeat. Against one of the noveau riche on home soil it served to ensure a parity they so richly deserved.

Hughton, his players and the majority inside the stadium who roared their approval at the final whistle know any regression from such a seasonal high against West Ham at Upton Park on Tuesday and the negative currents will swirl again. Norwich inhabit a perilous position but this is the type of performance they will be judged on over the run-in. Hughton now has a base to work with after edging the tactical battle with his Manchester City counterpart.

Alex Tettey and Bradley Johnson were re-united in a reprise of the defensive screening role that underpinned those landmark home league wins last season over Arsenal and Manchester United. Tettey at his marauding best has been a huge miss for the Canaries. Howson may offer the creative, goalscoring dimension but Tettey injects energy and dynamism into Norwich’s pressing template.

The visitors predictably dominated territory and possession but the lateral movements floundered on the twin pillars of Norwich’s deep-lying midfielders. Leroy Fer was relieved of some of the onerous responsibility which appears increasingly to weigh heavily on the young Dutchman’s shoulders.

Nathan Redmond may have owed his elevation to Snodgrass’ groin injury, but his pace and directness was the perfect antidote to a defensive gameplan which required a release valve to annoy Pellegrini’s side.

John Ruddy was secure when called to account but bar a smart first half stop to repel Stevan Jovetic he was protected by the men in front. Seb Bassong was the commanding player of last season, not the hesitant operator who looked badly exposed at the Etihad.

Joseph Yobo needed all his experience to help subdue the visitors’ potent array of weaponry after he was fast-tracked into Norwich’s central defence. Martin Olsson typified the prevailing air of defiance when he gave no thought to his personal safety to launch himself in front of Jesus Navas’ goalbound strike from barely six yards as the siege intensified after the interval. It was that type of afternoon.

The volume grew as each threatening wave subsided. This was not a day to highlight individual performances but a recognition of what is possible when Hughton can seamlessly knit the collective at his disposal, and those he entrusts perform to their optimum potential.

Much of the rancour and the frustration over recent months stems from the realisation Norwich have short-changed their supporters. When they see a performance laced with honesty and rich in endeavour they have a right to expect more.

Few could have begrudged Hughton and his squad a late winner as a fitting reward for their boldness. A diving Ricky van Wolfswinkel was unable to divert Redmond’s driven cross as it flashed across the face of the six-yard-box. Anthony Pilkington cutely rolled Pablo Zabaleta but guided over with the club’s record signing pleading for a pass. Hughton preaches religiously about the fine margins - and there could be no more stark example - but City must harness the residual benefits from a palpable shift in the mood music.

The lasting legacy for a defining period to come must be more than one point and one step closer to crossing the Rubicon towards a fourth consecutive season of Premier League football. The manner of their labours against the title challengers should re-affirm, both themselves and their long-suffering support, they still retain control of their destiny.

Too often in a campaign of maddening inconsistency they appear to have been buffeted by events and outside forces. For what felt like the first time in a long while, they exhibited a cohesion and a sense of purpose that may convince the doubters.

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41 comments

  • Just for the record, I do sometimes say complimentary things about The Padster, but Archie insists on rejecting them as `inaccurate`. Ironic.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Our destiny will be determined by beating the teams around us. The Cardiff result was a body blow. We need to be winning our home games against Stoke, Sunderland and West Brom and picking up at least a point against West Ham, Villa and Fulham to have a realistic chance of avoiding the drop. Any other points we get will be an invaluable bonus.

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    Hurdy Gurdy Man

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I regret the Capital has changed too much for me to know any decent watering holes, BPBP. I wish you well in your odyssey and trust you locate a hostelry devoid of rough beer and weak fellows. Can`t you hitch a ride in Gedro`s Executive helicopter and join him for Chablis in the Directors` Box?

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Let's not get carried away with all this euphoria. Yes it was an excellent performance. But it doesn't alter the fact that we have been dire most of the season and also begs the question: can this improvement be maintained? Not only that: where are the goals going to come from? We are still totally in the mire and one more round of games without a win may well see us in the bottom three. So for goodness sake let's keep a sense of proportion on this.

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    malaga flier

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Have to say well played lads, but really have to agree with Uckfield Canary, A couple of days ago there was an article inclining come 4.45 on Saturday a new record defeat was on the cards, now after a hard earned 0-0 we are suddenly at ease playing the big boys!! One extreme to another. Lets see how Wednesday mornings fantastic Norwich City writer takes us.

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    Canaries007

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • It's a bonus point, but unless we can get a few wins very soon, it will count for absolutely nothing. Still, the club could release a NCFC 0-0 MCFC t-shirt next season to cheer us up on the journey to Barnsley.

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    Colin

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I know exactly what you mean Mattias....I work with a Man City fan. He was born and bred in Beccles and has never been anywhere near Manchester. Likewise a so-called Arsenal fan, from Great Yarmouth.

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    Mellow_Yellow

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • The players acquitted themselves well, no doubt. This is what they`re capable of - greater than the sum of the parts, etc. Go with the same starting XI vs WHU. The team looked balanced and capable of quick counter-attacks. If that means leaving out Snodgrass, so be it. Would you dare leave Robert out, Chris?

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • What about grabbing a Boris bike?

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Did anyone notice how much more effective we looked in that final third of the pitch with Snodgrass out and Redmond on the right wing?

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    Mellow_Yellow

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Uckfield I agree. Gotta love this reporting. Last week it was "will the Premier League's 1-8 home record defeat still be standing on Saturday night". We get ONE draw 0-0 and we "look at ease amongst Premier League high society". Did he forget those 7-0 and 5-1 and 5-0, 4-1 and 4-0 maulings by Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd etc ?? To me one draw and 5 maulings does not make us "look at ease". It does however prove we can perform and compete when we apply ourselves. Also if we are at ease amongst high society...what about the other end of the table? Failed to beat Cardiff (Twice) when they were bottom. Played Sunderland when THEY were bottom..... didnt beat them. Played Fulham when they were bottom and didnt beat them in 3 attempts!! High society indeed.

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    CanaryWest

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Tah TK. To be fair I dont think Man C underestimated us. If anything they played there strongest side possible, other than being forced into dropping Yaya Toure deeper. Maybe it was a gamble playing Jovetic whose been injured half the season but he looked pretty sharp to be fair. Im not saying it was all down to him, but Yobo looked superb for me. Did exactly what I hoped he would do. Another leader at the back with vast experience. Im a big Ryan Bennett fan but for me Bassong & yobo formed an instantly stable looking partnership. russell Martin had an off game but I doubt changes will be made for West Ham unless they are forced ones. The thing is, we've been here before, where we play well against a big side and then because of that keep the same xi regardless who were playing for the next 5 games. The trio of Johnson, Tettey & Fer did superb in breaking down an restricting Man City. However the thing that scares me is we will now play that formation what ever opposition were playing. Some teams we can be a bit more brave and no require two DMC's in Tettey & Johnson. Certainly in the long run I suspect Fer, Tettey & Howson is the preffered trio. Just keeping them all fit. Playing two DMC players in Tettey & Johnson is fine by me when playing the big boys. Works well without hampering us with there lack of technical ability. Just hope when we play the lesser sides, especially at home we can be a bit braver and drop one of Tettey & Johnson, otherwise as we've shown in the past we just clog the midfield when a more creative player (no names mentioned ha!) could be better used. Hughton got the Man City game 100% spot on, an ive been incredibly critical of him for issues like that. Lets hope we continue to get it right, an get a good bit of luck come our way. Just gotta keep picking up points. OTBC

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    Mattias333

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • What pretentious drivel this columnist writes.

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    Cecil

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Not just you, Mattias. Seems BWise has been similarly frustrated and I`ve concluded the safest thing to do is avoid actually saying anything - but I`m not surrendering! Though it could just be random? The forgiving side of me prefers to put it down to incompetence rather than malice.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I will tell you what this result does for me. Yes it was an unexpected point and yes it was a great performance by the lads and yes tactically CH got it spot on BUT HERE IS THE THING. All us Norwich City fans have been saying that we need to be safe by game 34 because we will get absolutely nothing from the final 4 games. This proves that if we play like we can play then we are capable of living with any of them. We just do not do it often enough. Granted we have at some point, always had some key players injured. Arsenal lost heavily to Liverpool at the weekend. Man Utd could only draw with lowly Fulham and we ran Chelsea very close earlier in the season. All we need now is Luis Saurez to get injured or banned baned before we play them and we are looking at a potential 12 points from the final 4 games. I jest of course in my final point here but I certainly do not fear those final run in of games as much any more having seen that performance on Saturday

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    GPL

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Sequestered amid all the verbiage, The Padster managed to slip in an almost apologetic `club`s record signing`. I`d totally forgotten about that. The gist of this piece of jingo journalism prompts Swallow\Summer. Uckfield Canary has said everything else I wanted to. Spot on UckCan.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Ps excellent and well written article Paddy. Thank you.

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    Canary on the moon

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • So are CotM and MY now saying that after gaining this admittedly very well-won point, Hughton is a great manager and has to stay? Saturday's performance was only an unexpected blip in a solid run of extremely poor football and results since mid December 2012. For heavens sake guys don't let boring mediocrity become your goal in life. Talking of goals...........

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    waclor

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Last time we looked at ease in the top flight was with Mike Walker in charge. Wonder if CH would have converted Sutton back to a centre half, kept Fox on the bench and coached Goss to stay in his own half.

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    Lincs Canary

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  • BP - Bl@ck Lion ,59 High St, Plaistow. Six real ales - in the 2013 GBG.

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    Steely Dan

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • For me Saturdays result was a huge huge huge point. A point I certainly didnt have nailed down so thats a massive positive for me when i've been struggling to see where the points are coming from. Made me laugh how Man City fans were mocking us on the train ride home for celebrating a draw. These lads in there early 20's obviously only jumped on the bang wagon recently no1# because there on a train for Lowestoft not Manchester & no2# they have no idea what its like to be a club like NCFC so clearly are not longer term fans. Only valid point they had was they missed Fernandino. That lad does the job Tettey & Johnson do on his own and it free's up Yaya Toure to drive on where as on saturday he clearly looked frustrated being forced to play the holding roll, a point amplified by his kick out at RVW. If I wanted to be very picky I thought Russell Martin had a shocker but overall result was superb and thats all that matters. A Lower Barclay fan who sits in the block next to mine was spitting feathers at the end of the game over the choice of MOTM. Really? Come on we just played superb against a truly world class side and your moaning about the MOTM picked by some crummy sponsor. Does it really matter? Thats the issue I have with the unrest amoung fans. Ive been pretty clear on my feelings regarding Hughton etc...but does not mean ill stop supporting my team from start to finish and it drives me mad when I see someone sitting there blood boiling because we actually achieved something rather than rolling over and dying for once. Gotta ensure we take that level of performance into every game now whether it be one of the big boys or more importantly a fellow struggler! OTBC

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    Mattias333

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Cecil, your `pretentious drivel` comment is spot on. Strangely The Padster, when seen `live`, is bland and borders on the inarticulate. But in Archant Tower, with an on-line Thesaurus, he`s truly gruesome. Spawn of Stuart Hall and Stanley Unwin.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • You're right Mellow, some people just want to moan. A female caller on Canary Call "rose" to the challenge of reaffirming negativity towards CH, clearly oblivious to the fact that she was being set up. What it confirmed for me was that a large number of the Hughton out brigade will not be moved whatever happens

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    Canary on the moon

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • That headline is absolute rubbish. A good performance undoubtedly but "At ease"? No.

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    waclor

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Lovely Archant person, please do not ether me on this most important of topics, especially as the zeitgeist seems to have found its way to this page: Good morning everyone, I trust you are all in good health. By rights, I should be in the morning meeting at the moment, but the stewards have got their knives out, and I thought I'd prefer to chat to my friends, particularly as I need some advice. Bohemians and travelling supporters amongst you will have realised by now that it is not just West Ham's new surge of virility that will cause the team to sweat on occasions, so much as the dilemma of how on earth to get to the match and back given the logistical nightmares of the capital's transport system, not to mention finding a watering hole. So, bringing it down to basics, if I walk from West Ham, or Barking overground, I won't have to think about using the underground, which will be seriously overstretched, and might even result in a few fisticuffs. The sensible option would have to be Barking, and thence the High Road, but this would mean a very dull walk, or impossibly overcrowded buses, and the likelihood of ramshackle public houses inhabited by some very rough fellows and terribly weak beer. The West Ham option would be much more exciting, but does juxtapose the possibility of getting lost somewhere in the dead marshes of East Ham, as the route looks very obscure. Right then, does anyone know of any decent pubs between West Ham overground and West Ham football ground?, but not too near the ground. Thanking you in advance for your generously considered opinions.

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • This hubris surrounding a 0-0 draw is misplaced. It is a 'massive' result only in the context of our previous failures. 0-0 at home is not great even against a top team; it's a minimum.

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    Cecil

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • My real concern about this article is not on the playing side but the quality of journalism. At ease with the top 5-6 of the Premiership? REALLY?! Fantastic performance on Saturday no doubting it. But this was one day and I am not being negative. In the context of previous articles you have written this season and of late, how on earth can you ascribe this headline to City's performances against teams from the upper echelons Paddy? I am sorry but this piece feels cliche ridden and terribly lazy to me.

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    Uckfield Canary

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • No pleasing some 'ey bogbog. In my view credit where credit is due - this was a fantastic performance by our boys in Yellow. Yes, we should\could have nicked it near the end but CH and the team deserve a pat on the back for this one.

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    Mellow_Yellow

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Matt, Spot on as usual. Yes as a team we played out of our skins but we were set up defensively to stop the leading goalscorers. Did Man City simply underestimate us, thinking it would be a walk in the park, bigger fools them if that was the case. Tuesday night however, we really need to see a repeat of this performance or the effort on Saturday will count for little. If CH can get the team to perform like this when it is last chance saloon so to speak, why does he not repeat it every game I wonder. Could Bennett be played at right back on Tuesday I wonder?

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    TrevorKeith

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • At ease amongst Premier League high society? We've lost to every side in the top 8 this season.

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    LeytonCanary

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Thanks LYB, hadn't thought of that one. Ordinarily, they litter the streets around the Barbican, tomorrow may be different. The problem about finding a slot near Upton Park would be somewhere between quantum physics and the likelihood of the Kray twins appearing, getting it nicked and getting beaten up for riding a bike, especially one of those. I'll walk it, its only about seven miles, who care about the wind and the floods

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Yes it was a very good performance throughout the 90 minutes, but still no goals. Only one side in the entire Premiership has scored fewer goals than us. We desperately need to address this.

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    bogbog

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • so we got lucky.

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    gasman

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • BP2 - I've found a good spot for you pre-match but have been prevented (four times) in posting it. Maybe the Archant boys are also planning to meet there and don't want any crowds. Will try again.

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    Steely Dan

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Archant your driving me mad today. Wonder what word in my post is a curse word. I cant find it where ever it is!

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    Mattias333

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Seems to me that we are clutching at straws with the hype surrounding this draw. Yes, it was a professional performance but then this is what our players are paid to do! One decent performance against a good side doesn't suddenly cancel out the previous dire rubbish that has been served up week after week. Some perspective is needed here and unless this form is replicated in ALL of the remaining fixtures then I think that we will be in deep trouble.

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    la barbe

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • BP2 - found one. The Black Lion 59 High Street Plaistow. In the 2013 Camra GBG. 16th C coaching inn with oak beams and courtyard. 10 min walk WH overground and 15 min walk to Boleyn Ground. Sounds sublime.

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    Steely Dan

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Two places and two points above relegation. Nothing about that puts me at ease.

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    a fine city

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Yes yes usual usual. This is the turning point we have heard it all before thinnk I will wait until May before I make any Judgement

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    Patrick Grey

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • cheers TK. To be fair MCFC played the best side possible other than having to drop Yaya Toure further back into a holding role. Im not saying it was all down to him, but Yobo looked superb at the back. Another leader at the back with loads of experience. Im a big Bennett fan but for me Seb & yobo formed a stable looking partnership right off the bat. Martin had an off game but I doubt changes will be made for hammers unless they are ones that cant be avoided. The thing is, we've been here before though, where we play well against a big side and then because of that keep the same tactic who ever were playing for the next 5 games. The trio of Johnson, Tettey & Fer did superb in breaking down an restricting MCFC. Some teams do not require us playing 2 DMC's. Certainly in the long run I suspect Fer, Tettey & Howson is the preffered trio. Playing two DMC players is fine by me when playing the big boys. Works well without hampering us with there lack of technical ability. Hughton got the Man City game 100% spot on, an ive been incredibly critical of him for issues like that. Lets hope we continue to get it right, keep as focused and driven as against MCFC and get a little bit of luck our way. gotta keep picking up points. OTBC

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    Mattias333

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • so we got lucky.

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    gasman

    Monday, February 10, 2014

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