Norwich City have shown an inability to dig in when it really matters

Jonny Howson scores during the 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest - the only time City have come from be

Jonny Howson scores during the 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest - the only time City have come from behind to win in 2016. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

We bumped into some Norwich City supporters at a service station on the way up to Barnsley on Saturday morning.

'That will probably be the highlight of the trip' was the all too prescient review of the fry-up on offer.

It was said with all the weariness of somebody who has become used to following the Canaries away from home more in hope than expectation.

It's no wonder City supporters are getting emotionally worn out by the feast or famine approach of their favourite team.

An encouraging 5-0 home win swiftly followed by a first half at Barnsley that was sloppy at best and shambolic at worst.


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There is no middle ground with Norwich City these days, a fact underlined by their inability to complete what can be the most satisfying of tasks during a long, hard season.

They appear incapable of grinding out a hard-earned point on the road.

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It's not just this season. During the last calendar year Norwich have drawn only five of their 39 league games.

In two of those matches, against West Ham and Fulham, they blew 2-0 leads to draw 2-2. Two others have finished goalless at Carrow Road, against Manchester City in March and Sheffield Wednesday in August.

The only other draw was the 1-1 East Anglian Derby at Portman Road earlier this season. Five draws is an incredibly low number when you consider that the only thing every single football match has in common is that it starts off with both teams level.

It's now a whole year since Norwich City came from behind to draw a game. That was when they held Everton 1-1 at home last December.

It's not even as if they have been storming back to win matches either. Over the same time frame the Canaries have only won twice when they have been behind in a game. One of those was on the night they were relegated from the Premier League when they saw off a Watford side with nothing to play by four goals to two, only to find out that it was far too little, far too late. It means that the 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest in September yielded the only three points of the entire year so far from a losing position that actually mattered.

A lack of draws isn't necessary a problem. Championship leaders Newcastle, under Rafa Benitez, inset,have finished all square in just one match this season. That's offset by the fact that they have powered to 14 wins from 20 games.

The ability to puff out the chest, frustrate the opposition and grasp a point when not playing particularly well is just the sort of trait that would have come into its own at Oakwell on Saturday. It's unrealistic to expect a side to perform to its absolute free-flowing best every week but when they are below par the best teams maintain a base level of being determined, difficult to beat and find a way to break the hearts of an opposition even if they are as spirited as Barnsley were in that first half at the weekend. Burnley won the Championship last season having drawn a third of their games.

Norwich City have suffered 21 league defeats in 2016 of which 13, including Saturday, have been by a margin of just one goal.

Those are the matches that most illustrate the problems caused by this inability to pinch a point against the odds. What happened at Barnsley on Saturday wasn't a one-off and this recent run of just one win in nine matches isn't a blip.

A year's worth of league results is a big enough sample to draw some conclusions on what the shortcomings of this Norwich City squad are and what needs to be addressed quickly. Having said all this, you can almost guarantee that it will be a draw at Carrow Road tonight when City take on Aston Villa. If they come from behind to get it then it might be a result worth more than just a precious point.

Memories of Milan seem so long ago

Last week marked the 23rd anniversary of the end Norwich City's UEFA Cup odyssey.

December 8, 1993 is a date that has been etched in my mind ever since I was allowed a day off school to go to the San Siro for the second leg of the tie against Inter Milan with my dad and grandad on the proviso that I would give a talk about it in class the following morning.

We invited calls and texts from listeners with their memories of where they were when that match was played and, if I've learned anything from talking to supporters on the radio over the past few years, it is that what happens on the pitch is purely incidental as to how a game is treasured.

Mike Walker may have masterminded that historic run with the help of players like Jeremy Goss, Chris Sutton and Efan Ekoku but they barely got a mention when Norfolk remembered Milan.

Instead it was all about the school teachers who lowered their guard to allow a TV to be wheeled into the classroom for the match that was played during a midweek afternoon because it clashed with an Italian public holiday.

Others confessed to the excuses they made up for missing a couple of hours of work during the afternoon or how headphones were tucked up sleeves to disguise some stealthy radio listening from the less understanding bosses.

Even those who were at the game neglected to talk about anyone who actually played.

Judging by the messages to our studio last week the image that has stayed with most people who were lucky enough to be there was the lack of any sort of ladies toilet at the ground. It's taken 23 years for some to get over the sights they were subjected to as a result.

I would like to think that Italian stadium regulations have moved on a bit since then but it might be a good while before Norwich City fans get another chance to check on the state of the toilets in the away end at The San Siro. Milan feels a long way away when you've just been beaten by Barnsley.

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