Michael Bailey: Calamity, quiz questions, Mo missing and Jam smart – Six things learned from the Canaries’ Hull unravelling
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Maybe it was more six things unlearned for Norwich City? Michael Bailey delivers his half-dozen from Hull as the Canaries slip to a remarkable Championship defeat at the Kcom Stadium.
1 – Norwich are still able to ‘do a Norwich’
For anyone doubting this was still their football club, Norwich City fans could take comfort from a typically Norwich experience in Hull.
The Canaries have actually won only once at the Tigers in 45 years – although eight games doesn’t sound as impressive. Thank goodness it hasn’t been more, given the tortuous nature of the journey that is trying to get to Humberside from Norwich.
The patterns of City’s season were set months ago. We knew how resolute they were on the road, and arguably how it suited their approach to matches. The only wider issues? Turning draws into wins and finding the goals to do so.
Cue a calamitous defensive display – one if we’re honest, we saw signs it was coming against Nottingham Forest four days earlier.
City have now thrown away a 3-1 lead in each of the last three seasons, which I guess means those fearing an uneventful finish to the season may at least still get entertainment of some sort.
2 – The finger-crossing has come early
This is a tricky time of the season, given even relatively common injuries can last long enough to rule a player out for the rest of the campaign.
We don’t yet know how bad Moritz Leitner’s hamstring tweak is, but it sounds like it might be a longer one than not – and it would be bitterly disappointing if his City spell was ended by a rather lost 30 minutes chasing a few orange and black shadows.
Of course, we don’t know what happens beyond this current loan spell – and what recruitment work Norwich will have to undertake when offers start rolling in. Either way, you would imagine most City fans would like to see more of the midfielder – one way or another.
There is no doubt that for City’s widely praised fitness, they’ve still had to weather a few awkward injuries.
Tom Trybull’s lack of availability is one that really grates, given the glimpses of a man who brings something a little different to Daniel Farke’s midfield.
3 – It’s not so straight forward with Jamal
Immediately after full-time on Saturday, it seemed an obvious answer.
Just 15 games into his professional career, Jamal Lewis has rightly been hailed as a breakthrough act – showing the determination and hard work to get himself among not just City’s first team squad, but at the head of the left-back queue.
Likewise, the pattern is common. Once the initial adrenaline of those first performances settles down, the plateau comes – a window into the player’s true level and what is needed next.
It’s only natural that in the last few games, the 20-year-old Lewis has started to look the inexperienced player he still is – and that’s not a criticism. If anything, he should take great credit for keeping up such a high debut performance level for so long.
I just assumed a rest might now be a good idea – until realising that learning now, may be better for Lewis learning it than next term. That ‘dipping out’ moment Farke will need to get right.
4 – There have been none worse
“A fairly awful showing by the West Sussex official” – Yes, those are my words. Yes, they are about Saturday’s referee Tim Robinson. And no, they’re not about Saturday’s game – but from City’s 2-1 win at Reading back in October.
Andy D’Urso, Kevin Friend, Simon Hooper, Lee Probert. I’ve been following Norwich City since I was eight and there’s a healthy list of really special refereeing performances I can recall. I’m sure most Canaries fans have even more.
And yet I have not seen a worse, more inexplicable decision live than Mr Robinson’s fourth penalty award on Saturday.
Being incredibly generous, the referee would’ve had to give a penalty for every other amount of similar contact in the box thereafter – and didn’t.
City had a lot of issues at Hull but let’s be clear. A gift decision like that two minutes into the second half to make it level, DOES affect the game. To say it had no bearing ignores how football works.
5 – Complex Tigers can still roar
It’s understandable that some of the anger from Saturday was with the fact Norwich were playing a side fighting desperately for Championship survival.
In truth, if anything similar to Saturday arrives at Oakwell then Barnsley will signal real, justified angst.
But with Hull, it should be different. They were in the Premier League this time last year and in both games against City this season, they have looked lively going forward and combative across the pitch. In fact, only eight sides have scored more goals than the Tigers this term, while Hull have scored more goals on home soil than anyone else in the division.
More of a problem has been the sort of character that has conceded late goals as if they were going out of fashion, against a backdrop on fan unrest that wasn’t even broken by a Wembley play-off final.
Hull are far too good to go down this season. But finding more lasting improvement may prove far harder.
6 – We have a new quiz answer
It had struck me there was one thing James Maddison was yet to do, that might happen before this season was done – now he’s done it.
Without wishing to sound harsh, you wouldn’t say it was a treble for the ages.
His second goal was so well worked and he took both penalties with ice in his veins – but then, two goal were from the spot and the other didn’t cover David Marshall in glory. That probably amounts to the harshest criticism Maddison has received all campaign!
But his hat-trick is worth remembering – because it has a place in City trivia.
His was the first first-half hat-trick since Ted MacDougall in a home win over Everton in 1975, the first away league triple since Efan Ekoku’s four at Everton in 1993 and the first in the first half of an away game, ever. At some point I’ll work out the last City player to score a hat-trick and still end up on the losing side – maybe once I’ve forgotten about that second Hull penalty.
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