Painful lessons for Norwich City after Manchester United sucker punch

Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan is reportedly the subject of a £1.5m enquiry from Aston Villa. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan is reportedly the subject of a £1.5m enquiry from Aston Villa. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Monday, December 30, 2013
7:30 AM

Norwich City were subjected to a brutal finishing lesson by Premier League champions Manchester United that was not lost on Chris Hughton.

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Danny Welbeck’s match-winner may have been conceived in fortuitous circumstances with Ryan Bennett’s intended clearance careering against both the England striker and Javier Hernandez, but the calm slot past John Ruddy served to highlight City’s own relative lack of precision.

David De Gea denied Russell Martin, Gary Hooper and Sebastien Bassong during a dominant first half spell from the hosts that failed to produce a merited breakthrough.

“The winner comes from a double deflection which ran into the path of Danny and when that falls to someone like him you are almost expecting him to score. That was the only difference between the two teams,” said Hughton. “It was a fortunate goal but you’ve still got to put the ball in the back of the net and that’s what United are capable of doing. I thought we were better over the 90 minutes, we got into better positions and better areas.

“Our organisation was excellent and we had some good chances. On the balance of play the defeat is a tough one to take because so many aspects of our game were very good, but goals win games.”

City have now scored three Premier League goals in their past four home games and Hughton admitted that is a trend causing concern.

“We are giving ourselves a more difficult ride at home and we have to make things more comfortable when we get into the final third,” he said. “This feels really sickening. It is a massive disappointment because it is a game we didn’t deserve to lose. I thought we were magnificent right throughout, but when you have your best period you have to try and capitalise on it and we didn’t do that and with the changes and the quality they can bring on you know what could happen.

“Even in the second half I thought we were good. The big threat from United came on the counter-attack and to see them running down the clock tells you how delighted they were to get a result. I thought we were excellent, particularly in that first half period but we needed to score.”

Hughton restored both Wes Hoolahan and Russell Martin to his starting line-up and the duo were impressive during City’s most productive periods.

“I though tactically we were spot on for the majority of the game. We got a little bit more confident as the game went on,” he said. “We wanted to get good possession in the game and if we do that we know we have players in wide areas, certainly Nathan (Redmond), who showed with his pace, and (Robert) Snodgrass, with the quality and close control he has got, that we can be a threat but you have to have possession first. I felt we had that possession in the first half.

“They have such quality that you have to get the game right against them. If you open up too much they can hurt you. United were forced to make changes in the second half, which you know is going the affect the game because of the quality they have got.

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4 comments

  • I remember several years ago, that the Norwich hierarchy were just content to bounce along, just above the relegation places. I knew the then chairman, who freely admitted this state of affairs. Then this Norwich team, who were actually a very good team, and had had a very successful outing in Europe, hit an unexpected poor spell of form, and were surprisingly relegated by just one point. The point of this history lesson? This manager and board also seems content to bump along just above the trapdoor, believing that they will just avoid the drop, and the subsequent financial losses. Beware of history Messers Hughton, McNally, et al.

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    Algarve Canary

    Monday, December 30, 2013

  • Singapore, such a lovely place to visit. I fear Becchio is not the man to partner Hooper nor RVW as all three are in effect the old style No 10 players, in effect poachers. Unfortunately for Becchio, he is the third choice of those three. I also agree that Elmander is possibly past his best and hence we were allowed to take him on loan. What we really need in the new year is another target style player to take Elmander's place but I still live in hope that RVW will come good and be able to play together with Hooper. I would like to see two strikers plus Wes as he worked so well in that formation under the previous manager. Hopefully Tettey will be fit soon or perhaps we need another ball winning midfielder coming in similar to Tom Huddlestone now at Hull, a Darrell Russell of old.

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    TrevorKeith

    Monday, December 30, 2013

  • TK, I would change to having Becchio up front with Hooper as I think he is more pacey than Elmandar and may link in better with Wes. I agree that Snodgrass was the player to keep on as in addition to your comments he is slowly getting back on track with his free kicks - with him off the pitch we do not have anyone taking good free kicks. CH needs to change it when it is not working and that means the system not just the players. Also can someone give CH a new watch that is 10 minutes fast then we might get the changes with enough time to make a difference. We need the same effort and commitment against Palace as it is a game we need three points from. OTBC

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    Singapore Canary

    Monday, December 30, 2013

  • The statement “I though tactically we were spot on for the majority of the game. We got a little bit more confident as the game went on,” says it all. CH simply cannot read the game in progress and never makes the right changes when required. I was one of those who booed when Hooper was taken off, not simply because our best striker was being replaced but also because it was obvious that CH was sticking with the set up that was not working for us. As we were a goal down, we needed to go two up top and as Wes was playing so well, he also needed to stay on the park. For me, either Redmond or Snodgrass needed to be changed as the managers ploy of playing wrong sided wingers was failing to produce chances as always. I would have taken Redmond off as I think Snodgrass can play to the right or perhaps left of a central three in midfield as he certainly tackles and defends better than Redmond. Given that CH was concerned over Hooper, then Elmander could have come on with RVW leaving Wes in the hole to supply the forward passes he is so good at. However, as this was three points begging to be taken, surely it was worth risking Hooper for the last 20 minutes as we are less likely to collect points during out next two away games. That would have allowed Hooper three weeks to get over any tightness in his calf before we face Hull at home.

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    TrevorKeith

    Monday, December 30, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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