Complacency must be avoided for Norwich City

Norwich City were too hot to handle for Blackburn on the opening weekend of the Championship season.

Norwich City were too hot to handle for Blackburn on the opening weekend of the Championship season. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Two years ago I walked away from City's opening Championship game at Molineux totally dejected after City had struggled to come to terms with the home side's pressing game and failed to create a single chance of note themselves.

As Newcastle and Aston Villa both discovered to their cost last weekend, the Championship is a very different animal to the Premier League, and City received a salutary lesson that day, but after Saturday's stunning display at a half empty Ewood Park it's clear that lesson has been fully learnt and this was a much more pleasant homeward journey.

While Blackburn tried to press City in possession they were unable to do so successfully because ball and man were constantly in motion and their players were left chasing shadows. City's midfield fluidity was a joy to behold but a nightmare to defend against as the four attacking players constantly changed positions, ably supported by both full-backs who operated as virtual wingers for much of the game.

Blackburn were poor defensively, but that shouldn't detract from some mesmerising passing movements and clinical finishing from the Canaries, which should have acted as a very enticing advert for any striking targets that Alex Neil has in mind.

However, as Timm Klose was quick to point out after the game, it is important that everyone keeps their feet on the ground. This wasn't a flawless performance and both Ivo Pinto and John Ruddy will be disappointed with their parts in the home team's goal after Steven Whittaker had been beaten too easily on the left.

That goal served to show how deep the scars of relegation are with City suddenly looking much less assured and a small but noticeable frisson of anxiety passing through the travelling support after the party atmosphere of the opening hour.

It was all too little, too late for Blackburn but future opponents will have taken note of the fact that City looked rather less comfortable when Rovers started to generate more of a concerted attacking threat in the closing 20 minutes.

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While generally speaking Klose and Ryan Bennett dealt with almost everything that came their way with aplomb, the attacking outlook of the City full-backs can leave an enticing amount of space in the channels which could be exploited by sides with more pace at their disposal than Blackburn.

Of course, that's a double edged sword, because the advanced positions that Pinto and Martin Olsson were able to get into meant that City were always stretching the home defence in wide areas. The third goal illustrated that perfectly as the ball was zipped backwards and forwards across the edge of the Blackburn box before Wes Hoolahan released Pinto into space to find Cameron Jerome with a pinpoint cross.

All in all the day couldn't have gone much better and with a new chief executive in place and further incoming transfers anticipated (even if they're taking longer than some fans would like) the atmosphere amongst City fans seems much more positive than it was a week ago. It's been a great start, but that's all it is.

Today will, of course, be a much tougher test, and a more realistic indicator of how City are likely to fare this season. While Wednesday looked far from convincing at the back against Villa on Sunday, the pace of Fernando Forestieri will be a threat this afternoon, particularly if, as I expect, the visitors look to frustrate City and play on the break.

However, City should be brimming with confidence after last week and if they can start with the same urgency that they did at Blackburn I think they will take some stopping, but any complacency could result in a very different story.