Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-1 Championship defeat against Barnsley
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Oakwell
1. Talk is cheap - Alex Neil called it right on Friday when prompted to assess Barnsley's threat. Young, energetic with a ferocious work-rate. Yet City were simply over-run in that key midfield battleground during a calamitous first-half. Graham Dorrans, Alex Pritchard and both Murphys were virtual spectators without the ball as the Reds harried and harassed City out of their smooth stride. Youssouf Mulumbu's half-time arrival was merely tacit acknowledgement Neil got his set-up badly wrong.
2. Fan frustration - The contours of Oakwell, with the tunnel positioned practically below the away supporters, meant there was no escape for Alex Neil or his players at the end of each half. Boos, chants for the manager to sort it out and then visible anger and palpable frustration at the end. Neil tried to raise a hand, you suspect by way of apology. He got short shrift. That uplifting Brentford win feels a distant memory already as Barnsley's players headed to the opposite end of the pitch to savour a first home league win since August.
3. Josh Murphy - This should have been a day to savour. Deployed in tandem with his twin brother from the start for the first time in league action, Josh lasted 45 minutes before he was sacrificed in the midst of a woeful first-half. What that does for the young man's confidence is anyone's guess but it may be another while watching from the sidelines before he gets another senior chance.
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4. Carrow Road awaits - Two televised home games in quick succession. Two clubs in Aston Villa and Huddersfield who harbour the same ambitions to get in the promotion mix. Neil must get his selections right, his tactics spot on, and rely on his players to deliver. Otherwise the reaction at Oakwell will be nothing compared to the ire of a home support who see precious few signs of sustained progress.
5. Nelson Oliveira - The one genuine positive from a trip to forget. Two goals in two games but a long-range, instinctive hit that flashed past Adam Davies deserved a far better outcome. Oliveira will score goals in this division but his hold up play and intelligent movement were also something to cling to amidst the fresh gloom.