Who's to blame for slump?

The Peter Grant era started with a bang but the Canaries manager now seems ready to explode as his faltering side slide towards the wrong end of the table.

The Peter Grant era started with a bang but the Canaries manager now seems ready to explode as his faltering side slide towards the wrong end of the table.

That 1-0 victory over Championship leaders Birmingham City back in October had supporters dreaming of a play-off challenge but Norwich now sit perilously close to the bottom three, a fact obviously not lost on the manager.

Grant has questioned the mindset of players in his squad - one that was built by and large by his predecessor Nigel Worthington - and is ready to make major changes.

On Saturday, Grant's ire was directed at his under performing players who imploded against Plymouth. The Norwich boss emerged from a lengthy dressing room post-mortem promising radical surgery to his current squad.

“I've obviously got to try and change the group,” he said. “There's no doubt in my mind about that - there's people who have been here too long. We need a freshness about the place and I'm going to try and do that.

“It worries you, no doubt about that, because you have to win matches - that's the name of the game.”

Most Read

Grant might not have as many managerial miles on the clock as his predecessor but the Norwich boss has been round the block enough times to know it's all about results.

Plymouth and its sour aftermath suggest Grant has reached a crossroads, a watershed moment for both the manager and his players.

Saturday's 3-1 defeat left Norwich mired in 17th place - exactly the same spot when Worthington exited stage left following a televised mauling at home to Burnley in early October.

The win over Birmingham was the first of four league victories in Grant's initial six outings. Robert Earnshaw's header at West Brom on November 11 catapulted the Canaries up to ninth, one point outside the play-offs and the new regime's highest watermark to date.

Derby day defeat at Ipswich followed by Grant's Hull outburst sowed seeds of doubt.

Norwich took five points from a possible 18 in December and - potential FA Cup banana skin at Tamworth avoided - the New Year has proved anything but happy.

Nevertheless, 17 league games under Grant have collected 1.29 points per match - a favourable tally compared with the 1.1 in the dying embers of the Worthington period over the first ten games of this campaign.

A crushing 5-1 win over Barnsley on August 26 pushed Norwich up to the rarefied heights of second in the embryonic Championship table. The Canaries would not win again in the league under his stewardship.

Statistics can prove almost anything you want - so they say. Earnshaw's goal exploits, however, offer one constant. The Welsh predator fired eight goals for both incumbents - not forgetting the one notched at QPR under Martin Hunter's brief caretaker experiment.

The groin injury Earnshaw suffered ahead of Argyle's visit carries potentially far-reaching implications, both for Norwich's survival prospects and Grant's attempts to inject some fresh transfer window blood.

Maiden signing, Luke Chadwick, has only played 83 minutes since his mid-November switch.

Raw-boned striker Chris Martin was unveiled last week but Grant's ever-spiralling telephone bill is testament to the difficulties he faces trying to pull numerous rabbits out of hats.

Saturday's Plymouth defeat may have injected a greater sense of urgency. One cast iron certainty - Grant has already shown he cares little for topping popularity contests.

“You need to have competition throughout your group and we don't have that,” he said. “It's too easy for certain guys who think they are going to be first choices.

“I don't have any favourites - if they don't perform they will be sitting next to me. Some guys won't like it, supporters maybe won't like certain guys I leave out, but I don't give a monkey's. I want Norwich City to move forward and to do that I have to try and make this team better.”