By Andrew Lawn
While you could see the reaction to not having any players regarded as "strikers" on the pitch coming a mile off, the substitution of Mulumbu for Jerome yesterday was exactly the right thing to do.
It also shows the gulf between Alex Neil's football knowledge and our own.
From the reaction it must have looked to most of Carrow Road it like Neil had lost the plot.
"Woss he takin our honely stroiker orf fuh? Dut he no hats nil-nil?"
Which completely misses a number of points;
1 - At the time of the substitution (72 mins) Wednesday were on top and looked the more likely winners. In the 15 mins before Mulumbu came on Wednesday had more than half of the shots they mustered in the entire game (5 of 7). In the 21 mins after Mulumbu's arrival, they had 0. As Paul Lambert used to say, if you can't win a game, make sure you don't lose it.
2 - The reason Wednesday had got on top was that they had managed to force Murphy, Naismith and Wes back into our defensive 3rd making it very difficult for us to get out, with Jerome stranded on the halfway line. A fact made worse by Jerome having an afternoon where his first touch had trampoline qualities.
3 - By bringing Mulumbu on to shore up the midfield it allowed Murphy, Wes and Naismith the protection to move up the pitch themselves and do the jobs they are better at rather than defend. By taking Jerome off for Mulumbu we went from 451 to 433. We removed a striker and became more attacking. It worked too as not only did we stop Wednesday's flow, we got a new foothold in the game and had 3 shots of our own in the final 20 mins, compared to 1 in the 25 beforehand.
4 - Because of how it "looked" it potentially sent a strong message to the watching board.
The point of all of this is that just because the rationale for decisions isn't immediately obvious, Alex Neil will have them and more often than not, particularly in this league, he gets them spot on.