CITY 4-1 CHARLTON; THE REVIEW

23/08/17

A slow start, followed by a Josh Murphy masterclass and Tom Trybull becoming the first ever Germn to score for City. It was an eventful evening at the Carra. Here's Duncan Edwards to tell us all about it.

Random star performer
A few candidates. Tom Trybull scored a great goal and impressed in his brief cameo, Stiepermann was much more involved tonight, Tettey was, well, like Tettey and there is a massive temptation to give it to Russell Martin. Not just because it would cause some spontaneous combustion in various parts of Norfolk but because he was SO much more comfortable in the centre back berth that he has long professed to be his best position. Still, I'm sure plenty will feel that his performance was enhanced not by a change of position but by playing third tier opposition....But....

I'm going to go for Marley Watkins. He's already taken a few pelters following the Sunderland game but he put in a really determined and promising performance that was built upon hard work and willingness. As we face up to the possibility of no NO, it was good to see Marley making decent runs, offering an option in the channels and showing a real desire to get into the box and support his team mates with a series of lung busting sprints. I was delighted that he got his goal, it was thoroughly deserved and his apparent versatility may be invaluable in the coming weeks.

Moment of the match
We played some really attractive and intricate stuff going forward, with Wes, Madders, Naisy and Murphy in the side that was no more than to be expected. Wes was mesmeric at times and I just wish we could have him for another 10 years but the moment of the match for me was going the other way.

City had been a bit slapdash in possession at times, on this occasion Charlton picked up the ball and started a counter down their right. What looked a promising opportunity for them was thwarted by a flying Josh Murphy who put in a beautifully timed sliding tackle deep in his own half and then carried the ball forward. I'm sure there was a bit of concern regarding Josh with his twin gone but it seems to have motivated him. It's not so long ago that Josh would have been regarded as being "ahead" of Jacob; on recent showings that could well be the case again soon.

Biggest positive
There were a few that I could touch on. It was great to have Pinto back in the side, it was reassuring to see promising games from Watkins, Stiepermann and Trybull and let's face it, winning is so much more fun.

However, the thing that buoyed me most was the character, determination and spirit of the team. After a humbling in Birmingham (a Brumbling???) at the weekend, when we went behind tonight (excellent strike by Novak by the way) I had visions of a bit of panic setting in. It was a case of "same old" as we lost the ball cheaply, saw our defenders struggle for pace when turned around and then saw a flailing McGovern grasping at air as the ball nestled in our net. It really was a good finish but it was slack from us yet again.

We didn't dwell on it though and while we rode our luck a couple of times we stuck to the plan and ran out comfortable winners. You sense that the players genuinely believe in what the coach is asking them to do. Long may it last and continue to develop.

Weekly moan
The kid that sat behind me kicking the back of my seat for a solid 90....no, that aside it has to be how we always seem to give teams a glimmer.

Some of our defending is so charitable that it should come with a tick-box for gift aid and we continue to display just enough brittleness at the back that teams must always think they're in with a chance whatever the score. As comfortable as we were tonight we still managed to present Charlton with a couple of chances that only they know how they squandered. On another day they'd have been snaffled and there'd have been a few twitchy bottoms around the Carra had it gone 4-3.

Atmosphere rating
12,500, a decent figure I suspect. Loads of kids (including 10 in my party alone), closed upper tiers and a snake pit so devoid of snakes I wondered if St Patrick was at the game all led to a fairly subdued affair. That said, the Barclay boys tried hard but there was little coming back their way and the truth is it was exactly what we've come to expect from this tournament.

It's not necessarily a bad thing though as games like these facilitate the next generation being eased into the life of pain, misery and occasional joy that becomes your lot once infected sufficiently with the Canary bug.

Referee watch
Not a lot contentious happened really. He seemed happy enough to let a bit go, Stiepermann benefited on a couple of occasions and Wes was sent airborne by a particularly strong tackle that may have been interpreted differently by another official (looked just like a proper "old school" cruncher to me). So yeah, well done ref. Whoever you were.

Summary
There's still plenty to work on but all in all it was perfectly satisfactory and relatively comfortable.

The team selection seemed to emphasise that we are short up top and a conspiracy theorist might suggest that this was a deliberate ploy to "send a message". I don't buy into that at all, Webber will be acutely aware that we're thin in certain areas and Marley Watkins demonstrated that he can be relied on to do a job even if we wouldn't want to rely on him for a prolonged period.

James Husband got a break and taking him out of the spotlight may well help him long term while Steven Naismith managed a half-Brucey with a "bad game, good game" display. He infuriates people and his reluctance to shoot tonight had some of the folks around me almost spluttering up their picnic (yes really) in incandescence. He was much better in the second half and was on occasion furthest forward and others last man; he is a genuine team player.

Ultimately though, just as was the case at Villa, it was all about Murphy and Wes. Josh is in splendid form and while he still makes the wrong decisions at times, he must be horrible to play against. He seems to have strengthened up, is still rapid and retains the technique of a player brimful of potential. His first goal was a super strike that displayed that technique beautifully, smashing the falling ball on the volley into the far corner. It's looking like he could be really important to us this season.

Josh still has some way to go before he's as important as a certain Mr Hoolahan though. Mercurial, masterful, mesmeric and mystifying, so much of what we do well stems from his unrivalled ability. Yes, he should stand out as an international player against third tier opposition but he continues to surprise me with something different and new all the time. He'll never be everybody's favourite with his tight turning circle and supposed lack of a right foot but he is mine and I urge everyone to enjoy him while we can. We'll miss him when he's gone.

So, for now the Farkelution's wheels seem to be back on. They'll get another almighty test at the weekend though and we'll need to see plenty more of the spirit, resilience and desire that we saw tonight if we're to win at the Den.

Once again we have a foundation to build on and as far as tonight goes, I'll take that.


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Barclay End Norwich founder member Thomas Markham-Uden was also at Villa Park. You can tell he enjoyed it nearly as much as Duncan.

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