Another no-show, another calamitous display of defending. Jon Punt reviews an away day disaster, anyone getting really bored of this now?
Random star performer
Say it quietly (coz haterz gonna hate) but Steven Whittaker is continuing to do a capable job of filling in for Mitchell Dijks. As much as the Snake Pit’s favourite boo-boy will top many a fans’ list of who City should release in the summer, there’s no doubting Whittaker’s versatility has come to Norwich’s rescue in recent weeks following Dijks’ suspension. In fact, you could argue he’s looked more comfortable on the left flank than his natural position, possibly because his concentration levels have been that much better and he’s just stuck to the basics. However, this was slim pickings, and Whitts was only a 6/10 at best, underlining the fact few in a yellow shirt actually turned up.
Moment of the match
There’s little to identify from a Norwich perspective here, so forgive me for getting a little creative, but the complete absence of any kind of consistency from Michael McGovern cannot be lost on Stuart Webber. There appears to be no fathomable reason why John Ruddy isn’t starting, yet the absolute no-show from McGovern should not evade the new managerial team. If Bennett was at least equally responsible for the goal that broke the deadlock, there was only one man on which the blame could be pinned for the second (and third while we’re at it). A new keeper will be required this summer, and this could be the moment in time it became blindingly obvious.
Few moments of controversy for Chris Kavanagh here, yet he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory given his eagerness to produce a yellow card or five. Claims of an incorrect call for a potential Huddersfield penalty from the half time summarisers merely underlined how little there was to discuss at the interval. A missed foul on Wildschut in the lead up to Kachunga’s strike will wrangle some, but you get the sense it wouldn’t have changed the eventual outcome.
Biggest positive to take
Yanic Wildschut could perhaps be best described as enigmatic. Nonchalantly going from the ridiculous to the sublime. His heavy touch in the first half after a defensive slip had the hallmarks of an RVW ghost pass, yet there were many purposeful and energetic runs. There’s a player there, maybe not £7m worth, but a continued run in the side might just do him the world of good now the possibility of promotion has finally come to an end.
Pritchard continues to show flashes of why we paid so much money for him in the summer, again a sustained run in a starting berth should see him in good stead for next season.
It would be easy to just say Bennett and McGovern, so I won’t. Yet.
For what its worth Cameron Jerome has been excellent this season. As much as his profligacy frustrates some he epitomises the attitude, workrate and desire City have so sorely lacked in other areas of the pitch.
However, in a match where it was entirely plausible Norwich would concede position regularly to a home side still not out of the automatic promotion picture a forward with the ability to hold the ball up was required. That forward was Nelson Oliveira. His aptitude to link the play could have reduced some of the self inflicted pressure Alex Tettey’s wayward passing was exacerbating. Unfortunately we only realised that when two goals down.
The tension was palpable, the atmosphere hostile. This was a must win for both parties who were keen to gain the upper hand in a long standing battle. Luckily I prevailed, the wife trudged off upstairs to watch whatever random trash she wanted on TV and the Sky cameras beamed back all the “glory” to Casa del Punt. That's right, I didn't go, so I have no right to an informed opinion here. Sounded quiet from the visiting fans though and they can’t be blamed based on the offering from the boys in yellow. However, kudos to those brave souls who made the journey.
This performance was quintessentially Norwich City. Fortuitously weather the storm, start to get a semblance of a foothold in the game, then throw it away with a horrific lack of organisation and fight. That being said, on the evidence of the 180 minutes during the two encounters, Huddersfield are probably the best side Norwich have faced this season.
Kachunga was extremely adept at occupying the vast chasm between Klose and Whittaker, taking full advantage of a makeshift defence devoid of confidence and organisation. When the Congolese forward switched flanks he was worryingly afforded the same luxury from Martin and Bennett. Maybe you can’t blame the back four, a reshuffled defensive unit was always going to struggle, but as always on their travels this season Norwich were generous to a tee.
City's defending was hesitant. Players not wishing to make a mistake, resting on their laurels and subconsciously abdicating responsibility, highlighted emphatically by another Bennett and McGovern horror show of communication for the opener.
In contrast Huddersfield’s play was positive, with clear intent and a game plan based on their personnel's collective strengths. You can only hope a certain Mr Webber had a lot to do with that.