Well that wasn't in the script was it? City's home campaign opens with a frustrating defeat to the wily Black Cats. Jon Punt runs the rule over a difficult Sunday lunchtime.
Random star performer
Not so random, but Harrison Reed takes the spoils. Norwich controlled the game for long periods, especially in between both boxes, and the Southampton loanee was a large part making the Yellow machine tick over.
Reed’s ability to anticipate what’s happening in front of him and sniff out the threat at source means often there is no need for the kind of bone crunching tackles which will immediately make you a darling of the Barclay. His understated simplicity and intelligence may be key this term.
Moment of the match
Although City enjoyed vast swathes of possession, it never really felt like things were clicking as Daniel Farke would have wanted. Then when it finally went right, Cameron Jerome went and strayed marginally offside.
The smart interchange between Naismith, Watkins and Maddison prior to the Scot sending Jerome clear was superb and shows the potential for this new era when everyone’s in sync. The finish was also excellent, however the suspicion was had the lineman’s flag not been raised the additional pressure may just have caused Cam to find row Z of the Barclay.
It may have been difficult viewing, but you also have to say Aiden McGeady’s howitzer was a fantastically clean strike of a football. A goal the moment it left his boot.
It was all going so nicely and then……Lewis Bloody Grabban.
Pre-match, Barclay End Norwich’s efforts to bring like minded fans together in a show of unity worked incredibly well and the subsequent march to the ground could be the start of a new tradition or great moment in time.
Whatever it was, it was loud and proud, drawing captivated faces from watching children and applause from Michael Wynn-Jones. The noise manifested itself in the stands early on, with Angus Gunn’s new song and Farkelife freshening up proceedings. That was until the Mackams opened the scoring against the run of play, when a subdued Carrow Road only turned up the volume in fits and starts.
If we can continue that support, come rain or shine, it could have a big bearing on how successful, and enjoyable, this season is.
Andy Madley was relatively consistent, save a few potential advantages missed (Mike Dean would have been furious had he been observing). So official wise, all good.
That is except for the increasing trend of assistant referees not actually giving any decision whatsoever unless its an offside. The amount of times the linesman/woman actually waits for the referee to decide which team should be awarded a throw-in, regardless of the fact they’re better placed to make the decision, is infuriating at best. Rant over.
Biggest positive to take
A midfield axis of Reed, Maddison and Naismith looked accomplished enough to stamp their authority on most challenges the Championship will throw at them. That wasn’t City’s issue, it was in both boxes the match was lost.
The fact Maddison has looked comfortable no matter which midfield partner he’s been given is a measure of his talent. His set piece delivery was a constant and varied threat and had Norwich been sharper in attacking the ball the final outcome could have been very different.
This was, you hope, just one of ‘those’ games where nothing quite dropped.
Lots to discuss here. His chant may be excellent, but Zimmerman looked a little out of sorts. His excellent pre-season and ability to play 22 games a week will mean very little should this persist. Hopefully a minor blip though in the towering German’s journey towards folklore status.
For Sunderland’s first, two key errors cost Norwich dear but the feeling in real time was Zimmerman’s failure to anticipate then clear the second ball was key. Franke perhaps shouldn’t have been beaten quite so easily in the air either.
Fast forward to the third and decisive goal, Franke loses Grabban and Zimmerman hadn’t tracked his strike partner Vaughan had there been a rebound to worry about. It’s a concern, but could be easily fixed with more game time and understanding. Hopefully.
So it hasn’t started as we all hoped. Well, we were warned. Over and over and over again all summer long until the message had been received loud and clear by anyone and everyone in Norfolk and beyond; this will take time, the fans need to stay patient, we’re all in this together. You get the idea.
Well, apparently, some of us didn’t get the message. Some of us choose to whinge relentlessly about not playing 2 up front (when at the time we were actually playing 2 up front) or that Norwich aren’t “fucking getting it forward buh”.
The moaners were in the minority, but there were some audible boos at final whistle. Have a word with yourselves. Patient and considered football is here to stay. When it clicks and the likes of Maddison and Wes are playing with their usual swagger, it will be worth some initial anguish while we transition into a ruthlessly efficient German machine.