Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-0 Championship defeat to Derby County
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from the iPro Stadium
1. Bradley. Who else? - You have lost the last four Championship games. Disgruntled fans think it is time for a change. And the man you sold in controversial fashion comes back with the winner. Alex Neil must really wonder if he is ever going to get a break at Norwich. Neil's logic in explaining why he felt the time was right to cash in on Bradley Johnson is sound. So too was his assessment. Johnson is a seasoned operator in the Championship with an eye for goal. Neil could do with one or two of those at present.
2. It never rains but it pours - Jonny Howson is a huge miss from Norwich's central midfield. Graham Dorrans was suspended for this defeat. Youssouf Mulumbu returns after his own lengthy lay-off and then Alex Tettey pulls up lame in the second-half. City's medical staff must now assess the extent of Tettey's injury but the sight of the Norwegian hobbling away is another headache for all concerned.
3. Running on empty - There is a growing debate about the fitness levels of this Norwich squad to handle the high-tempo, high-energy, pressing routinely encountered in the Championship. City looked a far more cohesive outfit in that regard at the iPro but it lasted for all of 45 minutes. Derby upped the ante on the restart and there was a crushing inevitability regarding the outcome before Bradley Johnson moved centre stage. It might not just be about mindset, it might be about the physical limitations of Alex Neil's squad.
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4. Wes Hoolahan. Limited rations - The Republic of Ireland international looks a pale shadow of the figure who was cutting a swathe through the early weeks of the Championship. Hoolahan is in the side to create but his pass completion statistics here were woeful and he was eventually withdrawn for Alex Pritchard. Hoolahan still exerts potentially huge influence on this squad but Pritchard will feel he deserves a run at the Irishman's expense. It would be hard to argue.
5. Carrow Road mood music - No wins in five. Brentford next up at Carrow Road. The first team to inflict a defeat on Alex Neil as Norwich manager. The Scot has the backing from above but there would be a painful symmetry to his career in Norfolk if the Bees signal the end. 25,000 crave not just a performance of endeavour and energy but a win. Otherwise you suspect they will deliver their verdict and it will be impossible to ignore.