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Ian Clarke: Why have Norwich City lost their bouncebackability?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:04 24 June 2020

Tim Krul and Max Aarons of Norwich look dejected as the Southampton players celebrate Stuart Armstrong putting them 2-0 up at Carrow Road 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Tim Krul and Max Aarons of Norwich look dejected as the Southampton players celebrate Stuart Armstrong putting them 2-0 up at Carrow Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

There are plenty of damning statistics from Norwich City’s season so far.

There are plenty of damning statistics from Norwich City’s season so far.

A mere five wins from 30 games, only four clean sheets, just 25 goals scored, with 55 conceded.

Also, Jamal Lewis’ goal against Leicester is the only league goal City have scored since January.

One other stat which has struck me perhaps more than them all is the fact that Daniel Farke’s men haven’t earned a single point this term after going behind.

Teemu Pukki endured a frustrating return to action 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTeemu Pukki endured a frustrating return to action Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

In last year’s season’s amazing promotion run, the Canaries got no fewer than 27 points after being in a losing position.

Yes, I know that was from a full campaign in the Championship when we ended up with 94 points.

We’re all brutally aware of the huge difference in the Premier League.

But the ability to bounce back is crucial.

Norwich City were second best against Southampton at Carrow Road on their Premier League return Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City were second best against Southampton at Carrow Road on their Premier League return Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Bouncebackability is an attribute which seems to have disappeared from Carrow Road and is hurting us really badly.

Turn your mind back to last season.

Think about games like the opener at Birmingham (1-0 and 2-1 down very late on in the game when we still got a point). The derby at Ipswich where we didn’t play well but came back for a draw.

Of course there were those unforgettable comebacks to beat Millwall 4-3 after being 3-2 down going into added on time and the Forest match where City were trailing 3-0 with than 15 minutes to go and we still got a point.

Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki look dejected after being taken off during the dismal home defeat by Southampton 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTodd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki look dejected after being taken off during the dismal home defeat by Southampton Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

That belief and never-say-die attitude were key in us romping to the title.

If you look around at other teams in the top flight this year, they have managed it.

Sheffield United have 13 points, Brighton have 12 and Villa have eight after trailing in games.

So why have City lost their fight back mojo?
Friday night’s capitulation against Southampton encapsulated what we have seen far too many times in this campaign.

Players and staff remember those lost to Covid-19Players and staff remember those lost to Covid-19

Those bright first few minutes gave us some hope that the optimism we’d gone in to the restart of the season with would be fulfilled.

However, with each missed chance and with each minute that the Saints started to take control, we feared what was to come.

In far too many matches, the early part of the second half has seen City full apart.

As soon as Danny Ings’ strike hit the River End net four minutes after the break, our hearts dropped.

Those allowed in shield their eyes form the sun during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
19/06/2020Those allowed in shield their eyes form the sun during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 19/06/2020

Stuart Armstrong’s second just five minutes later cemented our fate and I’m sure no-one watching from the discomfort of their living room sofa saw anything but defeat number 19.

Think back to the Liverpool, West Ham, Burnley, Palace, Brighton, Southampton, Sheffield United, Man United, Villa and Wolves away games.

In those matches once when we went behind, and really didn’t look like bouncing back.

The same can be said for matches like Villa, Watford and Man United at home.

Nathan Redmond of Southampton scores his sides 3rd goal during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
19/06/2020Nathan Redmond of Southampton scores his sides 3rd goal during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 19/06/2020

So where has the bouncebackability gone?

I sense there are several reasons.

The lack of consistency in the team and so much disruption from injuries (especially at the back) has to be a factor - plus the fact we’ve had no fewer than five different captains this term (the first time that’s happened in the club’s history).

I want to applaud so much of what Farke has achieved in his tenure with us and even in this disappointing chapter of his story, there have been plenty of positives.

The seat coverings on display at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267The seat coverings on display at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267

However, as has been much discussed since the Saints game, some of his decision making has to be questioned, especially around changing formations when we go behind.

The players, of course, have to take their responsibility too.

It’s understandable that heads drop when the going gets tough particularly in such a young squad in a brutally tough league.

When that happens, though, other teams smell blood and take full advantage.

So do we give up, accept the season is over and start preparing for life in the Championship then?
Of course not.

With eight league games to go there still has to be a chance, albeit very, very slim.

The weekend matches proved other teams down the bottom are struggling too.

There’s got to be a monumental improvement as Everton arrive in town - and there’s the little matter of Saturday’s FA Cup quarter final against Man United.

We must see tactical nous, the end of social distancing in and around our box, a grip to be seized in the midfield and the rediscovery of where the opposition goal is. OTBC.

More farce

One thing I certainly have not missed about the enforced absence of football is the farce around technology in the game.

I still think the decision by VAR to rule out Teemu Pukki’s ‘goal’ against Spurs at Carrow Road was a key moment in our season - and we’ll never know what difference it may have made.

In the first game back since Project Restart, we had the embarrassing situation at Villa Park where Sheffield United clearly scored but goalline technology wasn’t working, so the ref wasn’t alerted.

It was so obvious that the ball had crossed the line that it was ridiculous.

The VAR team sat staring at their screens and knew it was a goal but the rules mean they were not allowed to intervene in the part of the decision making.

That is barmy and proves what many fans have thought for a long time, that common sense has been kicked out of football.

Changes to the system have to be made - and fast.

Superb Linnets

While it’s been a pretty poor week for the Canaries, it’s been completely opposite for the Linnets.

The news that King’s Lynn have been promoted to the National League is brilliant for the club and for Norfolk football as a whole.

The achievement to get within one tier of League Two is simply stunning after all that has happened at The Walks in recent years.

Massive praise has to go to Stephen Cleeve, Ian Culverhouse, all the behind the scenes team and, of course, the players for gaining promotion.

While Norwich remain in the Premier League, I can take great delight in saying that Lynn are the same number of divisions from Ipswich than City are.

I know there are talks going on to further build links between the Canaries and the Linnets.

The impact of Alfie Payne and Simon Power has been great and there has to be scope for more City lads to get their chance of action in Culverhouse’s team.


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