John Ruddy, Delia and Michael, Louis Thompson and broken records – Six Things we learned from Norwich City’s Championship loss to Leeds

Norwich City's joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones are joined

Norwich City's joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones are joined by former England manager Roy Hodgson at Carrow Road on Saturday. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

As Norwich City keep digging their Championship hole, Michael Bailey assesses the weekend fallout with six lessons…

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1 – No response, just a broken record

The requirements on Saturday were straightforward – show the Brighton debacle was a one off and that it ticked you off.

The side had been complacent, said Alex Neil. They needed to rediscover their intensity. They had to improve defensively. All had to be on show at Carrow Road to reassure a still-positive home crowd at kick-off.

But there was nothing of the sort. City were outfought, barely winning a 50-50 all afternoon. There was not a jot of composure and organisation at the back for the entire game.

As for with the ball, City rarely did anything at above walking pace – and it was hideously frustrating.

Just for a bit of context, this included when City were leading 1-0 and having a bit more of the game. They've even won games with the same frailties – but that doesn't mean they're not frailties.

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City have won eight games – seven of those have come against the Championship's currently bottom seven sides.

What's more, one last record went on Saturday: 86 games into Neil's reign, the game against Leeds was the 44th time City had scored the first goal – and for the first time, his side went on to lose the match.

2 – Louis proved the power of expectancy

Guess the sequence: 34, 32, 30, 30, 29, 29, 28, 28, 26, 24, 23, 21, 21.

It's the ages of the 13 players that turned out for Norwich at some point on Saturday – with the average being just over 27.

As it all played out, one of those 21-year-olds was Jacob Murphy – and the sub looked as promising going forward as anyone.

The other was the youngest starter and the man who left the pitch with the only positive reception from the home fans, as well as a deserved bottle of champagne to mark his man of the match performance – Louis Thompson.

It was the midfielder's full league debut for the Canaries – one punctuated by two excellent bursts with the ball from deep that Jonny Howson would've been proud of.

Yet there has to be a degree of realism. The screening of City's back four from midfield wasn't great for much of the afternoon, while Thompson was also unable to clear Pontus Jansson's goal-bound header and turned his back on Ronaldo Vieira's winner.

None of that is meant as criticism. Maybe more an indictment of what he was playing alongside.

Watch The Pink Un Show – Matchday review Saturday's Carrow Road action

3 – John Ruddy will be ready to knock

It was a clutch moment in the game, and it didn't go City's way. For Alex Neil, he was happy enough to write it off as one of those things. It happens when a team is struggling.

The other view would be Michael McGovern simply failed to keep Ronaldo Vieira's well-struck shot out – when he had the time and distance to react and turn it round the post. No dramas. Job done.

With a defensive line that is looking alarmingly all at sea and clearly lacking organisation, the mistakes coming from the goalkeeper are making the whole situation worse.

So given John Ruddy was number one at the start of the season and only stepped out due to injury, if I was the man himself I'd be knocking on Alex Neil's door and suggesting he makes a change.

The City boss has a tough call. McGovern is clearly the man he wants in goal, given he signed the ex-Accies man – calling him the best he'd worked with.

The reality on the evidence so far is Ruddy remains the best keeper at the club, and now deserves the chance to prove it.

4 – Delia's timing is not impeccable

There's no doubt Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones have protected the club they love. They've stepped in when no one else would. Many in the game give them their full respect – so they should.

But they are not perfect. No doubt it was nice to have The Times' Henry Winter come to dinner, but its ripples will be felt closer to home.

Wanting to keep a manager for 10 years is the sort of soundbite that comes back to bite. A lot. Surely the only aim is to steward a successful club?

Takeovers can be fraught with risk – but for me, to not even entertain enquiries is arrogant and ignores whether there could be just one better option out there. The fans deserve a board that considers approaches.

We've heard before how City are disadvantaged by not having a benefactor with a blank chequebook. We now know that is a conscious choice – and so it cannot be an excuse.

As for taking a supporters' vote on sacking a manager, the 10-year plan might have needed another contender if they had carried that out at full-time on Saturday.

And I didn't even get to mention Roy Hodgson…

5 – Leeds are on the move – as are others

The recent sparring of Norwich City and Leeds United has been an intriguing rivalry – one City came out on top almost all of the time.

From winning the League One title, to pinching talented player after talented player. The City fans cracked their jokes and the Leeds fans took it with their customary good grace. Obviously.

Well Jonny Howson is the only real link to those days now – and he was once again a sorely missed cog in the Canaries' midfield engine room.

As City stuttered and stumbled, Leeds were excellent. They pressed, closed down and attacked with purpose and pace.

In fact, there is no doubt Garry Monk could really produce a promotion challenge at Elland Road this season – Saturday's performance proved they are capable of it.

Leeds are sixth, a point behind Norwich. But that's not the real worry. That's saved for higher up the Championship table.

Newcastle are now 10 points clear of Alex Neil's men, while Brighton in second are seven. Both have huge goal-difference advantages too.

You take those gaps lightly at your peril.

6 – Kyle won't save Alex Neil's job

It felt like the City boss was in desperate need of someone to give him a boost during the second half on Saturday.

At which point, it was almost remarkable to see Kyle Lafferty sent into battle – the man, for whatever reason, seemingly given the fewest chances during Alex Neil's reign.

Of all the people to indirectly ask – and what's more, within a few minutes he'd produced a smart finish to level matters. That really should've been the primary narrative come the final whistle – only for City to repeat the same injury-time mistakes they made in the Premier League last season.

As the clouds get darker over Carrow Road and the hole gets bigger, there is one trait that will dig Alex Neil out – his man-management skills.

He has to get the players he selects running harder than ever. He has to get them putting their bodies on the line. From that base, everything else positive will follow.

If he is the promising, progressive, innovative coach his reputation has sold, he will do it and he will turn things around.

If he doesn't, that should really be that.

• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey and Facebook @mbjourno