Norwich City’s comeback kings now need to prove they can bounce back too

Referee Michael Russell tries to keep Norwich City manager Neil Adams in check on Tuesday night. Pi

Referee Michael Russell tries to keep Norwich City manager Neil Adams in check on Tuesday night. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It's hard to imagine anything summing up the Championship quite like the rigor, subplots and ultimate frustration of Tuesday night. From the seemingly unchecked performance of referee Michael Russell, to Charlton's approach to the 90 minutes – it was a night the Championship loves to dish out.

And let me be clear – no matter what result would have come about in midweek, the referee's efforts would have deserved panning. Players joining in with 'banter' from fans is one thing. Referees deciding to take it upon themselves to get involved is another matter entirely.

Then we have the rather chippy reaction from plenty of Addicks fans – more than I've known for probably three seasons. Some of them even wanted more credit from Norwich fans for the quality of their performance on Tuesday night.

They might be waiting awhile – and I'm confused over why they would want it in the first place.

So effectively, we will now have Canaries fans clocking February's return fixture at The Valley with added relish, as well as the next time Mr Russell returns to Carrow Road.

As it so happens, the quality of Charlton's play was very good on Tuesday – especially in keeping the ball for spells. It ensured that Norwich had to be good with the ball in turn. But while there was plenty of heart in the Charlton defending, that discipline becomes much easier when the distraction of trying to attack is removed – which of course, was what made Norwich's eventual defeat that much more galling.

Sadly, in truth City really had only themselves to blame. Missing so many chances and failing to score first continues to make life unnecessarily hard for a group of players with all the talent and ability they need for this level.

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So you would expect – and I would definitely hope for – a backlash for Rotherham to deal with. Certainly promotion ambitions need more than two points from three games.

Those lofty goals have been given a lot of air time in the last week – from Chris Sutton declaring City will win the Championship at a canter this season, to Rotherham manager Steve Evans labelling Norwich as the side everyone expects to be champions come May.

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Adams has already said such sentiments aren't helpful – although the impact may only be felt outside his group of players. If it starts to filter into the squad, it wouldn't take long to see the results.

Still, when have words ever earned a point towards promotion?

As always, it's going to be about goals. You can't ignore the fact Norwich's three defeats have come on the three occasions they've failed to score.

All in all, you can't ignore the added pressure on the Canaries come Saturday afternoon. It was going to come with the territory this term, but it's now going to be heaped on a side dealing with almost inflated expectations – off the back of already proving what they have in the tank if they need it.

Which means now, it's about producing that level with the consistency that gets you promoted.

Leicester suffered back-to-back defeats only once last season on their way to the title. The last time City went up, they never suffered that fate. You are almost always going to lose games, however successful you are. But we're about to find out how Norwich deal with defeat in the context of all the recent praise and expectancy.

And a similar reaction to what happened in mid-August would be the ideal retort to Charlton – as well as everyone else.


When most City fans heard about Grant Holt's loan move to Huddersfield Town, you imagine they immediately went to check how long the loan was for – and then whether that would mean a Carrow Road reunion.

It seems we will have to wait until nearer the time, to see if the Terriers extend his move by the small matter of a week.

But it's almost impossible not to wish it to happen on December 13, because the big man's return would be some occasion at Carrow Road.

• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey