Defence must improve quickly if Norwich City are to survive in the Premier League
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
More evidence of defensive vulnerability against West Brom has got Fans Zone writer Lee Payne worried that there are dark times ahead for Norwich City in the Premier League.
In hindsight, the rain that swept across Norfolk on Saturday should have been a warning. An indication that Norwich City are not currently bathed in sunshine of any kind.
It's hard to believe that a few weeks ago City were seconds away from beating West Ham away from home. Even the defeat against Leicester carried many positives in the performance.
Last Sunday's humiliation at Newcastle, however, came as a shock to us all – we knew we didn't have a particularly good defence, but we didn't know it could be quite as shockingly poor as it was at St James' Park.
When the fixture list came out in June, the media claimed the Canaries had been given a relatively 'easy' start. West Brom on Saturday, though, signalled the end of this apparently comfortable beginning – it's Manchester City away on Saturday.
It was imperative then. With only nine points on the board so far, we had to beat the Baggies.
Alex Neil attempted to address the huge problems that Newcastle had exposed by shuffling his defence around. Steven Whittaker – a player I, perhaps unfairly, blame for most of the problems in the world – was dropped to the bench, replaced by Ryan Bennett.
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Bennett got a rare chance at centre-back, partnering Sebastien Bassong. Martin Olsson was jettisoned too, with Robbie Brady lining up at left-back. This left City captain Russell Martin to play at right back, his original position.
It didn't work, though. I got the feeling that Martin was unhappy at being put back where he started. I'm not sure what's gone wrong for him, but since his perfect day at Anfield the skipper has been a shadow of the player we know he can be.
Bassong didn't look sure of himself, making some bizarre errors, and dithering on the ball quite a lot. Bennett put in the right amount of effort but as a whole the defence failed again. It's 10 games into the season now and still no clean sheet.
Throughout my life as a City supporter, it has been an unwritten rule that we can't defend. But I'm not sure I've seen a Norwich defence in quite as bad a state as this one.
They need to sort it out, and they need to do it fast, or we could be left under a cloud that we won't be able to shift.