Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 5-1 Championship humiliation against Sheffield Wednesday
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Hillsborough
1. Shambles - Make-or-break game. Alex Neil insisted pre-match this will not be a Burton or a Rotherham. He got that right. This was worse. This was diabolical. On a par with that no show at Brighton. Alex Tettey implored the rest of his team mates to keep it tight for the first 20 minutes, when he addressed the media on Friday. City were 2-0 after 22 minutes. Fresh defensive abdication triggered by John Ruddy's miscue and a collective display from Norwich's centre-back duo that had to be seen to be believed. Wednesday were sharper, more energetic and determined to take a leap forward in the promotion stakes. The Canaries' last stand proved a meek surrender.
2. Charity begins….away - Norwich left Hillsborough having surpassed Nottingham Forest's 36 away goals conceded in the Championship this season. Sheffield Wednesday's nap hand took the Canaries debit column to 37 - rock-bottom relegation certainties Rotherham is the next target on 52. Do not rule it out in the remaining away trips, following more fundamental errors from former Premier League players. City as a collective and as a backline failed to sense danger. John Ruddy was the maker of his own downfall for the opening goal from Ross Wallace but the seas parted thereafter from the men in front.
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3. Top boys - This far into the campaign for a team supposedly targeting promotion before a ball was kicked in August not to have a single, solitary win on the card against any side in the top 10 home or away is a damning statistic. Perhaps only paling into significance set against the away defensive record. Nevertheless, as much as defeats at Rotherham and Burton suggested Alex Neil's squad was incapable of finding the consistency required against the lesser lights the same is true when it really mattered against the clubs fighting it out at the top-end. One cannot help but let the mind wander to that stoppage time carnage at Newcastle United from a winning position. What might have been.
4. Switch on - Another symptom of the malaise was on show in Sheffield again. City had been decidedly second best in the opening quarter but Cameron Jerome's close range header could have sparked a revival. Barely three minutes separated Jerome's riposte from Morgan Fox fending off Russell Martin to restore Wednesday's two-goal cushion. It was the same at Burton when Jerome again injected some forlorn hope before Michael Kightly sealed the points four minutes later. At least they held out for eight minutes at Reading on Boxing Day when Garath McCleary quelled any potential fightback from Nelson Oliveira's equaliser. Norwich's masochistic tendency to self-destruct has proved their undoing.
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5. Where do Norwich go from here? - Well, Bristol, in the literal sense. The first of a series of frankly meaningless contests between now and the end of the Championship campaign. Or are they? Neil spoke about the need for transition on Friday. Alex Tettey was candid enough to admit time was running out for him and perhaps some of the other 'older' guard. City have a core of young, hungry alternatives. If Neil intends to stick around, and more to the point the club's board intend to remain steadfast in their support of the Scot, then the thirst for change on the terraces must come on the pitch rather than the dugout. The tried and trusted will just not cut it.