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Six things we learned from Norwich City’s abject loss at Bournemouth

11:50 18 January 2016

Robbie Brady clears the ball as Norwich come under Bournemouth pressure at Dean Court. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Robbie Brady clears the ball as Norwich come under Bournemouth pressure at Dean Court. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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If any Canaries supporters were on the south coast now, they would still be waiting for their side to turn up. Michael Bailey boils a painful afternoon down into half a dozen key talking points to address…

1 – We’ve been here before – and that’s the problem

I write this as someone who hates the vital word to this point and how it’s used in football – consistency.

Teams need to be consistent in performance and results – which effectively means picking up points regularly and looking better than their opponents more often than not.

You can say Norwich were very consistent in the second half of last season – and this season, they have been inconsistent.

Of course, the reality is basically switching the word ‘consistency’ for ‘good’.

Failings do take a while during a season to emerge. You need the pattern to form. And perhaps that was most worrying about what took place on Saturday.

Once again, a road trip in which City needed to perform went begging – and as a quirk of the fixture list, they have got plenty more of those to come over the course of the second half of the season.

Alex Neil named a reasonably attacking XI at Dean Court and aside from the awful performance, the holes that side left harked back to City’s identity crisis of October – caught in a no-man’s land of keeping it tight and opening things up.

One thing Norwich do not have is the luxury to learn lessons twice.

2 – Don’t do excuses – only gentlemen’s agreements

In reality, he should’ve been tucked up in bed. No one wants to be out in the cold watching a football match from the stands when you’re not feeling well.

Maybe it was really poor fortune for Lewis Grabban to miss his big reunion with Norwich City.

But then, given City’s apparent ease at letting their striker make that switch just a few days before taking them on, I’d really rather admire the fact that possibly, two managers came to an agreement on the quiet – leaving the story of the game to be played out in more amicable terms.

Not that any of it did Alex Neil any favours come the final whistle and his chances of enjoying the rest of this weekend. Credit here to the City boss for resisting any urge to bring out the big guns – excuses.

Maybe it was a mistake but he made only one change to the XI that started at Stoke and played mostly with 10 men. The only change was the banned and still very silly Gary O’Neil.

That’s two away trips over four days, compared to Bournemouth’s two home games with XI men over five.

Whatever you think, that’s exactly how it looked on Saturday too.

3 – It’s pointless casting player of the season votes in November

Robbie Brady has featured a lot in this series so far this season – much of it early, to back the fantastic impact he made following his £7m arrival. But it’s not been at that level for a while now – which is both a shame and entirely natural.

We got to one point last year where supporters had almost posted their votes for Brady as player of the season. Not yet people.

In fact, the issue has moved on now to where the Irishman is best off doing his work.

The City boss made his thoughts clear before Saturday’s game, in suggesting Brady is better at full-back than as a winger. Certainly in attacking situations, when Brady is on it he offers a great outlet and supply line.

The one problem here is that those levels have dropped in recent weeks – possibly since December. With all those Ireland games, it feels like a rest might be needed – but then, Brady was one of those to sit out the FA Cup weekend.

Perhaps the key point here is the opening goals at Bournemouth and Stoke both saw Brady beaten at the far post, while his shanked clearance played a part in the Cherries’ second.

It’s good having flexibility and options but at present, a Martin Olsson-Brady left wing looks attractive too.

4 – Being outrun is one thing – being outworked is quite another

There was pride in it earlier in the season when the trend first emerged – and that was absolutely fine. Norwich City were running around less than everyone else and, quite rightly, it was an indicator suggesting Alex Neil’s men were as organised as they come.

Likewise, running around can often mean you’re having to chase the ball – it doesn’t necessarily mean you are running around at the right times or in the right directions.

That’s as far as the statistics will take you. And then Saturday happened.

What was obvious to anyone watching was that Bournemouth outran Norwich – but this time it directly translated to outworking them too. The Cherries harried and pressed. They had more than enough men behind the ball long before City had broken properly – and then players overlapping in attacking support that appeared to overrun Norwich more than was comfortable.

If it really wasn’t lethargy, it represents a real problem for City – because there’s no point in being organised if you can’t put in the ground work.

5 – Like in the summer, Benik would have been worth it

Let’s get the details out of the way. Norwich City bid £10m in the summer to take Benik Afobe to Carrow Road, said the Wolves press, at a time when Wolves wanted approaching £15m. Wolves dig their heels in on the basis of having a real push at promotion and everyone moves on.

Come January, Wolves are miles off the Premier League, Afobe has had an indifferent campaign being played here, there or not at all – and Bournemouth succeed with a £10m bid to take the 22-year-old to Dean Court.

Whether it was the overall package, the fact City had been put off by what they’d seen since the summer or Bournemouth simply had more financial muscle, Saturday’s evidence pointed to a striker that would have been ideal for Norwich.

Yes, there is still rawness to his game – but that’s the beauty of signing a player at 22, yet still with good pedigree and experience.

Afobe held the ball up well when he came short, caused havoc when he ran in behind, should have forced a red card and took his one clear chance. He looked such a handful, it’ll be interesting once Callum Wilson is fit.

6 – City really annoyed their promotion rivals last season

While the world of social media is the last place to look to if you want to gauge general football opinion, it does seem a few fans of Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth haven’t entirely got on since sharing promotion.

Since last January, Norwich looked a class apart. They proved it at Wembley of course – but they also beat leaders Bournemouth with 10 men at Dean Court and steamrolled Watford at Vicarage Road.

Well it seems all that riled the Canaries’ rivals on their return visit – possibly understandably at Watford given that fortuitous penalty City were awarded. Watford have kicked on in general since going up, and perhaps City just got caught in that this season – although Norwich’s performance still offered plenty of concern.

That was, until Saturday when City’s efforts on the south coast really upped the ante with the frown lines.

The newly promoted teams and their mini-league in the Premier League usually plays a big part in who survives – with Watford’s visit to Carrow Road finishing City’s contribution in the spring.

You would like to think for the first time since 2012 all three teams will stay up – especially as at the moment, Norwich offer most concern.

Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey

21 comments

  • The worst drivel I've yet to read from Archie:( Only the end of point 2 is worth reading, viz: "Maybe it was a mistake but he made only one change to the XI that started at Stoke and played mostly with 10 men. The only change was the banned and still very silly Gary O’Neil. That’s two away trips over four days, compared to Bournemouth’s two home games with XI men over five. Whatever you think, that’s exactly how it looked on Saturday too." I don't blame AN for not making wholesale changes, because except for the absent O'Neil, I suspect he believed he was picking his best players. Personally, I would have played Olsson, Wisdom and CJ, but we would still have had some very tired legs on the field, after Wednesday. Which makes it so annoying to read some of these posts. Were it not for the extra effort we usually put in, we would already be in the bottom 3. Many of you constantly berate players and never recognose fatigue, or the superior athleticism of players at richer clubs.

    Report this comment

    Reg Breeze

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • I commend dave@thecrown for his supreme kindness toward The Archies. Schoolkid parish newsletter journalism is nearer. But the writers have grand titles and cushy numbers. All good then? Sine cura.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • I wonder whether we will see a new captain emerging ? We seem to lack someone galvanising the team on the pitch. Russell Martins had a good run but someone needs to get the spark going on the pitch. Will we be getting another striker ? Or maybe just some detention lessons with Huck's ? Today's news shows commitment to develop the squad, nice one Edward let's have another one !!

    Report this comment

    twopips

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • DITCH DA WITCH, and all the other islington dinner party tawts

    Report this comment

    Lawrence Hallett

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • We are a very average squad, technically. But arguably on paper better than that PL had at his disposal. So what is the difference? Not difficult to pinpoint: it is down to effort, commitment, teamwork and a never-say-die attitude. All those things PL's side showed in spades. Sadly by and large these are missing. Or at least not showing over a full 90 minutes. PL's team used the ball better, knew and played within its limitations and in Grant Holt had a striker with a better eye for goal than any of our current front men. We so badly need new blood but it worries me that neither Naismith nor Klose will be ready to hit the ground running. By the time we get them up to speed more games will have come and gone; ones we now have to get something from. Some of our senior players look so out of place in the Prem that I wonder whether we would have little to lose by drafting in some of our youngsters. Young legs would probably give us more all over the pitch, coupled with greater desire and commitment as they should be hungry to make a name for themselves.

    Report this comment

    malaga flier

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • Whatever Leicester are doing then we need to do the same.

    Report this comment

    Radshenko

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • I would be amazed if any new signing starts on Saturday. If what we heard is true Naismith hasn't recovered from an ankle injury and Klose,like all foreign players need time to settle in. Klose,also, not having played much recently will not be Match fit. As for Pinto, I think he has just been signed for cover. On the other hand, my glass is always half empty.

    Report this comment

    irongloves

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • Got to agree with some of the posts on the teams ability at this level. Most of the players do look Championship standard at best. There is no satisfaction in criticizing our team but you can only base opinion on what you see. Because of our lack of quality, the players should be making up for it with 100% work rate from the first whistle,closing the opposition down and trying to retain the ball. All this is sadly lacking which means we make teams look better than they are. Best example Newcastle. Looking forward to the new recruits but too many players need to be replaced to survive.

    Report this comment

    61canarie

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • lol wivenho, i bet if they ever got to interveiw them they would become a little tongue tied and not wanting to upset the board. jeez some of the hacks here wouldnt last ten min on fleet street, archie might as well get a local high school to write these articals, i mean all they are are carrow road press releases or rate your player, what 6 things have we learnt, come on archie i think you need a good shake up as well as ncfc, school kid journalism lol, oh btw copying all my posts now so if they arent put up i will just keep doing them till they do lol

    Report this comment

    dave@thecrown

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • ~dave at the crown. makes you wonder if the hacks local has skysport news on

    Report this comment

    wivenhoebudgie

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • Pinto, Klose and Naismith. IF all here and ready to play saturday the teamsheet will be interesting. Who from saturday will miss out. Lets have Ollsen at left back and have a minimum of 4 changes.

    Report this comment

    wivenhoebudgie

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • The truth is that NCFC are trying to stay in the Premiership with a Championship side. Buying in an injured player at the end of his career and youngsters who won' t be ready for two season al la McGrandles is not going help when you need cutting edge strikers who can score now. The inconsistency thing is psychological because the players know in their hearts that they do not have the players on the park around them who can win or save games. Whether it is Delia and those around her who want to balance the books regardless of the division that Norwich are in or the fact that NCFC can never really be taken seriously as a Premiership side and so top players will never be attracted to it, is only important in telling us that at best NCFC will be ones of those bouncing clubs that rattled between the Premiership and Championship. It hell followed by ecstasy for the fans, but it was ever thus. It is easy to be an Arsenal or Man City fan when you can buy the who you want and the only disappointment of the season is not to end up in the top four or failing to win the champion's league.

    Report this comment

    CrichtonCanary

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • my question to them is why not stop using other peoples work anyone can look on sky for updates and get some serious jounalism done by interveiwing delia or even bowkett and get the true story that lots keep asking for, if they dont get honest answers from carrow rd then tell us they have asked but no reply was given, the same with transfer dealings, if the so called hacks here can find out who we are supposedly after is it that hard for other teams to find out the same info, i think its time for a change of direction at the club starting with a lot more honesty to the fans for one, afterall it wouldnt be a club without the fans now would it

    Report this comment

    dave@thecrown

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • Well, not wrll!?

    Report this comment

    whereareyou

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • Do the clowns of Archie's circus actually pay to attend football matches; furthermore, do they ever have anything more than faint praise to offer when things go wrll?

    Report this comment

    whereareyou

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • This work ethic issue, and players giving one hundered percent for the whole game worries me, and I hope Klose and Naismith (assuming they come) won't fall into the same mould. Someone said it earlier this week-end - under Lambert, no-one ever gave up, and it paid off time and time again with late goals. Since the start of the Hughton era, we have not given our all as a team, and it still goes on. Makes me wonder if AN is not really as tough as he makes out? Especailly as the same mistakes get made as well week after week.

    Report this comment

    MichiganCanary

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • Needs a big clear out in the summer if we stay up. But alas the 6 things we learnt are 1 don't be optimistic 2 don't be optimistic 3 don't be optimistic 4 don't be optimistic 5 don't be optimistic 6 don't be optimistic We should trust Alex and hopefully the board of directors will finally support him with some £££££ or am I being too optimistic

    Report this comment

    dave@thecrown

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • To survive in this league cannot be achieved with a squad of championship level players... On a more positive note a Naismith and K lose excellent signings I have to say respectfully Whittaker is not up to the task.O'Neill also should be moved on and even RM seems to be past his best .Time for upgrades like Asap.

    Report this comment

    johnty

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • To survive in this league cannot be achieved with a squad of championship level players... On a more positive note a Naismith and K lose excellent signings I have to say respectfully Whittaker is not up to the task.O'Neill also should be moved on and even RM seems to be past his best .Time for upgrades like Asap.

    Report this comment

    johnty

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • The first thing to learn is that in the Premiership you have to turn up for EVERY match.

    Report this comment

    Cornwall Canary

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • And the 7 thing is ??? ⚽️⚽️⚽️ Are we going to be relegated , showed no motivation , I did not see the game but thought this for a long time , my mate who did agreed , will the new players make a difference , I hope so , just look at what Leicester did last season , I live in hope

    Report this comment

    iMac

    Monday, January 18, 2016

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

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