Lee Payne: Don’t abandon this team when they need you the most
PUBLISHED: 10:04 11 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:04 11 November 2019
I bought the 2018-19 season review DVD for my mum’s partner’s birthday back in June.
At the time, I joked that it would come in handy in the depths of winter to remind us of the good times when Norwich City are bottom of the Premier League. And here we are. It's where they deserve to be as well.
The number of injuries we have had is ridiculous. It's not an excuse, but any team in the Premier League would have struggled with as many players unavailable as City have had to deal with.
We've been forced to play Alex Tettey and Ibrahim Amadou, two holding midfielders, at centre back. Last season, after a poor start, our defence significantly improved when Timm Klose came into the side and started to direct and assist Christoph Zimmermann. With both missing long term, poor Ben Godfrey has had to approach his first dozen top flight games playing alongside makeshift defenders. We weren't great at the back last term anyway, so the injuries have made an already fragile defence weaker.
The full backs, Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons, have had to face the ruthless nature of the Premier League. We all like to see them flying up the wings, attacking at full pace, but while in the Championship you might get away with losing the ball high up the pitch, in the top flight your mistakes are more often than not punished by conceding a goal. As a result, it seems of late that they have lost confidence in going forward for fear of losing possession - this was particularly evident in Lewis' performance on Friday night against Watford.
We've suffered from injuries the most in defence, but in attack we've been all right.
It feels like a long while ago now but Teemu Pukki was at one point one of the Premier League's top scorers. It seemed that even though we were conceding goals we had the ability to score a hatful ourselves.
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In recent weeks, the goals have really dried up. Pukki is still one of our best performers but he is being starved of service. He might get one or two chances per game if he's lucky, and that heaps the pressure on him.
Emi Buendia clearly has the ability to skip past anyone in this league but is easily frustrated when things aren't going his way. He needs to come up with a strategy to move on from his disappointments and not let his performances drop. The recent lack of goals is a major worry - it goes without saying, if you are not scoring at one end and haemorrhaging them at the other there's only one way the club is going.
This has not become a bad team overnight though. Say what you like about City's reluctance to go big in the transfer market (I still think they took the right approach), but these are the same players that stormed to the Championship title playing wonderful attacking football last season. So this is where I think we as fans have our role to play.
I know it's frustrating. It's hard to get right behind the team when it's just not happening. But what we really don't need is to turn against them.
On Friday night, every misplaced pass was met with groans. Some wannabe managers were chanting Mario Vrancic's name, demanding he be brought on from the bench. And when the Watford supporters were remarking at how bad we must be because they were winning an away game some of our fans responded with 'you're nothing special, we lose every week'.
I'm all for a bit of gallows humour, but none of this is helpful. There's a lot of the season still to be played and many more opportunities to pull ourselves out of our current predicament. Support the team. Don't abandon them when they need us the most.
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