Tough times, but Norwich City fans must stick together

Steven Naismith rues a missed chance at Birmingham. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd.

Steven Naismith rues a missed chance at Birmingham. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Sometimes bad things have good consequences. Whether that proves to be case with the debacle at St Andrews only time will tell.

While the players and management received an almighty wake-up call which, given City's familiarity with the requirements of Championship football, should hardly have been necessary, such an abject defeat released a pressure valve for disgruntled fans as well.

Suddenly there was a focus for all the pent-up frustration with the lack of activity in the transfer market, gripes about individual players, the manager, the board and the owners, and over the weekend there was many a cathartic outpouring, and with some justification.

Saturday was one of those games that unfolds in front of you like a creeping nightmare. City started with a swagger which suggested that they felt that their mere presence was enough to secure the points, but the numerous individual errors in the first 10 minutes and the fact the ball never stuck with Steven Naismith didn't bode well once Birmingham started to realise they weren't just there to make up the numbers.

Let's be honest, the home team were nothing more than workmanlike, but in Clayton Donaldson they had what City, in the absence of Cameron Jerome, so sorely lacked, namely a mobile, hard working target man who saw nothing as a lost cause.

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Even so, City should have been able to cope, but after Robbie Brady yet again lost his man at the far post to allow David Davis a free header they were totally unable to respond. By the way, while I accept that Brady is a reluctant full-back, any midfielder worth his salt should be able to track a runner as part of his normal duties.

When Steven Whittaker, who had one of those games where he appears to be playing with someone else's legs, lunged brainlessly at Donaldson to concede a penalty the game was pretty much up for City and the irony of Alex Tettey, who had struggled to pass to his own players all afternoon, finding a defence splitting pass to gift Donaldson his second just underlined how appalling they had been.

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While the decision to use Naismith, a player who seems to radiate disinterest, as the focal point of City's attack (a word that should probably be used in parentheses in the case of their efforts on Saturday) proved to be a disaster, the lack of creativity from the midfield unit was a real concern. While striking options are painfully limited the fact is that the last two results haven't been down to chances being spurned as opposed to them not being created in the first place.

If Saturday was bad, Wednesday night was infinitely worse as fans were left bemused by the fact that the second striker that Alex Neil had regularly stated that he wanted failed to arrive and one of City's brightest youngsters, James Maddison, went on loan only days after the manager had stated that no such thing would happen.

It was hardly surprising that the reaction among fans was almost universally negative on Thursday morning. With no statement from the club the image being portrayed was one of a manager not being fully backed and a muddled approach.

The shortage of striking options could well cost the club dearly if the current spate of injuries continues, but the other concern is that Neil may have been left to work with players whose hearts aren't at City or whom he had wanted to move on.

Whatever the truth of it, and none of us really knows that, with the window shut until January the only option now is to move forward. Whether we can manage to do so together remains to be seen.

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