Duncan Edwards gives his take on another away defeat for the Nodge.
In the words of Tag Team “Whoomp! There it is!”.
After the huge rush and massive high of outpointing football’s Ali, comes the sucker punch comedown defeat to Audley.
Perhaps the euphoria from bloodying the nose of the world’s finest led to us underestimating the task facing us at Turf Moor. For all their relative geographical proximity, they’re a million miles from Manchester City. They aren’t assembled with an any-amount-available budget, their ground might not be as glamorous as the Etihad either. However, to flippantly compare them as Audley to Ali as I did earlier does them an injustice.
They know their strengths and play to them. They do so well enough that they were playing in Europe last season, and, while the additional games early in the season may have affected their league form last season, they remained a decent side on their own patch as victories over the likes of Spurs, Wolves and West Ham demonstrated.
That said, they lost more than half their games last season and finished with just that magical forty points. This DID represent an opportunity for us but it was evident we were unlikely to take it when going 2-0 down inside fifteen minutes.
Yet we still created enough to be “in the game”. Pukki could and perhaps should have put us in front just before we fell behind, Mo Leitner again came off the woodwork of the bench to rattle the woodwork of the goal and there were other flashes too.
The success we’ve had this season has been built around taking our chances when they present themselves. Our efficiency in front of goal has been a notable plus point. When we let that slip, we’ll inevitably find things more difficult and points much harder to come by - see today and West Ham. Obvious, right?
Of course, losing is disappointing. Losing to a team that finished bottom six last season is disappointing. Losing immediately after beating the Champions is disappointing. Surely it wasn’t unexpected though?
I never looked at Burnley away and thought, well there’s a gimme! Our record there is abysmal for one thing but I also suspected that their physicality and nous might just be a bit much for us today. I can almost hear the derision..’...so Man City didn’t have the nous to beat us but Burnley did..’
Manchester City underestimated our quality and were punished for it. If Man City are “at it” I don’t care how well this Norwich side can play, they won’t beat them. They didn’t underestimate Watford today; one suspects a Xmas card from the Hornets might not make an appearance on the Carrow Road doormat this year.
Burnley on the other hand went out with an actual plan to beat us. Let’s be honest, Pep can just give it a “go out and enjoy yourselves lads” most weeks and their quality will be enough. Sean Dyche saw where we struggled against West Ham in particular and got at us early. Pressuring us with numbers, allowing us no time to settle and find a foothold and forcing mistakes. That intensity ramped up the pressure on our makeshift defence which became further weakened with the early injury to Alex Tettey. All of a sudden it’s 2-0, Burnley can relax the press and settle in for a comfortable victory.
The peak and trough nature of our start to the season has already seen folk losing, regaining and losing again faith in the Manager and his tactical abilities. Last season was as easy as it has ever been to be a Norwich City supporter. Winning all the time, exhilarating football and unwavering belief that we were better than anyone we played. As I said in the close season, it’s going to be a much tougher gig this time around. Especially away. Already on Social Media Daniel Farke appears to have caught that disease that has undermined every Norwich Manager, well, ever.
Yes, he’s lost his “Plan B”.
Now, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but...
The club have quite openly stated that they are looking to build an identity and football style throughout. From youth all the way to first team. For there to be a clear and identifiable strategy so that as and when these youngsters progress that there is a seamless transition, that they already know what is expected of them. We recruit players to fit this style.
“Plan B” is going to look a lot like “Plan A” I’m afraid. Maybe with some different faces. The fact is that we believe in this ethos and if the players are going to retain their trust in it, it’s no good abandoning it at 0-2 with 80 minutes left to play. We will see subtle changes in formation and occasionally we might even sling a defender forward in the last few minutes if we’re desperate. For the most part though, we’ll keep doing what we do. It got us here, it’s what the players are prepared for; ultimately it is what we are best at. Sometimes though, like today, it won’t get us the result we want. That’s football.
I mentioned the injury to Alex Tettey earlier. At this rate we might see another bond issue to fund an extension to the treatment room. I honestly don’t think I can remember so many walking wounded. It’s a huge concern because January is still three months away and now the replacements are getting injured too. There is always a hope that these unfortunate events lead to the unearthing of a gem. We saw it with Lewis and Aarons; it’s a big ask for them to keep rolling off the production line though and an even bigger one at Premier League level.
So, ultimately, it’s a case of sucking it all up. The injuries, the perceived lack of a Plan B, the results.
It’d be a strange week to lose faith though; we’ve taken three points from six and just given the Sporting Director a new three year deal that had us whooping and hollering about how it was the best signing of the season.
Fast forward a few days and his template isn’t working, we need an alternative or disaster is imminent.
Let’s hope we haven’t commissioned that statue just yet.
City’s Premier League rollercoaster of emotion heads to a place of little yellow and green joy to face a Crystal Palace side with a similarly up and down record to start the season. Andrew Lawn chats to Robert Sutherland from the Five Year Plan Fanzine to set the scene.