Norwich City’s league position is masking the reality
- Credit: PA
Although the team sheets have seen plenty of variation of late, on the pitch most of the same frustrations have remained.
On the one hand it's encouraging to see that Neil Adams wasn't afraid to drop players for the Leeds fixture and then again make three changes to the starting XI for the trip to Hillsborough.
On the other, it is perhaps a little worrying that despite these changes it's now five games without a victory for City.
Against Leeds in midweek we barely tested the goalkeeper, continuing this trend of failing to create clear-cut chances, which did seem to end on Saturday given that Wednesday 'keeper Keiren Westwood had to produce a man of the match performance to keep Norwich at bay.
It is disconcerting to read Adams' post-match comments that again we were 'too slow out the blocks' – we have been for the best part of two months, and that's a major concern. Quite why Norwich can't seem to get going from the first whistle is a mystery and one that Adams needs to solve quickly.
As we head into November, having to think back to August 19 to recall our last home victory is enough for even the most optimistic of supporters to admit our form at Carrow Road needs to improve dramatically if we are to be in with a shout of promotion come May.
Our winless streak hasn't prompted a slide too far down the Championship table and, as some fans like to point out, we are only three points behind the leaders Derby. But, in a league so tight that only five points separate the top 10, it isn't such a narrow margin.
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Three weeks ago, after a 1-1 draw with Rotherham, we were top on goal difference and a point better off than Derby. Failing to capitalise on extending that lead against a newly-promoted side was no doubt a missed opportunity.
Birmingham, Rotherham and Leeds were all teams that were languishing in the bottom half of the table when they turned up at Carrow Road and may still be come the end of the season. I'm sure Adams would agree they are the type of sides we should be beating at home if we are to achieve our objective of a quick return to the top flight. Instead we've managed only three points from a possible nine against them.
While I'm not suggesting it is time to press the hypothetical panic button, if last season's shambles has taught us anything it's that it would be naive to shrug off this slump with a reference to league position and us being only three points from top spot.
From the turn of the year, some fans seemed happy to use the fact that we were out of the bottom three as an assurance that our woeful form wouldn't see us relegated. Just like some results came back to haunt us then, if we're not careful they may do so again this campaign, albeit at the opposite end of the table.
Chris Sutton said last month that failure for Norwich would be anything less than winning the league by 10 points. Although I'm not too sure many fans would make such an extravagant claim, maybe they would agree there hasn't been anything special about the teams that have troubled us so far. Given our early-season form, I think those inside and outside the club would have expected us to fare better against the aforementioned teams.
Friday's meeting with Bolton in front of the TV cameras is a perfect chance for Adams to showcase that he has what it takes to get this talented squad promoted ahead of away fixtures at Middlesborough and Forest.