NORWICH CITY 2-2 BLACKBURN ROVERS; THE ACN REVIEW

11/03/17

Andrew Lawn reviews City's latest attempt to drain any life from this season, with a goodbye to Alex Neil and some strong words about Simon Hooper and Ryan Bennett. It's fair to say he wasn't impressed.

Random star performer

Alex Neil. Yes he probably deserved to clear out his desk, but he was also responsible for some of my favourite memories as a City fan. His departure on the eve of what was to all intents and purposes a meaningless game, which delivered everything it promised in terms of intrigue (nothing) renders this an ideal time to reflect on some of those. Thumping the old enemy in the play-offs and that glorious day in the Wembley sunshine will be tough moments to top. Thanks Alex.

The game also proved beyond doubt that this season's under-performance is not all the fault of the now unemployed Scot. This summer is less of a transfer window and more of a garage sale in which you could make a case for more players leaving than staying. Neil will carry the can but his departure reflects terribly on lots of those he's left behind.

Moment of the match

Apathy is not conducive to the formation of memories it seems as I sit here and struggle to recall a single incident of note. The reception the Barclay gave Alex Pritchard as he departed may have helped persuade him his future lies in Norfolk. Oh and the plane was memorable, albeit for being a droning annoyance. Now I'm all for bashing incompetent Tories but what was that about?! Also, if your message is going to be displayed in a way that requires it to be legible from 3,000 ft, don't include a twitter handle.

Atmosphere

It had all the hallmarks of a pre-season friendly without any of the interest.

The boos that greeted the substitution of Alex Pritchard were louder than the cheer as CJ prodded us ahead. The reaction felt as much a message to the board that appointing Alan Irvine would do nothing to appease a fan base that is angry and feels entitled to better. The combination means the mood changes and becomes poisonous at the slightest provocation. Cries of "sack the board" greeted Blackburn's second a goal whose fault lay squarely on the shoulders of Ryan Bennett who made less effort to challenge the cross than I can be bothered to put into an appropriate analogy here.

Biggest positive

Errrr. Josh picked up the assist baton from his brother and 2 goals for Cam. Will that do? Also the satisfying sound of a barrel being scraped clean.

Weekly moan

For now nothing's changed. It's those same players making those same mistakes; switching off, shirking challenges and shooting our own feet. Repeatedly. Arrogance and confidence are two ingredients of a winning team, but only when coupled with a desire to work, to "earn the right to play". Too often this season, when the going gets tough, City get hiding.

Referee watch

My word. At AlongComeNorwich I like to think we're fair. We accept that we see things with a green and yellow tint and that referees are doing their best. For example Mitchell Dijks' challenge was as clear a red as you'll ever see.

But.

Simon Hooper. Simon fucking Hooper. He's a professional referee?! Really?! Come on now. It's not just decisions being wrong, it's the inconsistent manner in which he applies the laws he does appear to know (handball evidently not among them), coupled with the dithering, the hand going to his mouth to blow for an infringement and then pulling it away looking as confused with himself as everyone else is. The fussy watching of McGovern over every goal kick, even when the Northern Irishman was attempting to get the ball back from the crowd. A fussy, irritating little pedant or "a wanker" to put it in the parlance of the terraces. Wanker.

Summary

What did we learn that we didn't already know? Ryan Bennett is not the answer to any question that doesn't begin; who once pushed a Chilean in a pit? The crowd don't like Alan Irvine but do care deeply for Alex Pritchard. Every time we put ourselves in a strong position we throw it away?

The next few months are some of the most important in Norwich City's history and recruitment (never all down to the manager) will be key. Russ' comments about players not feeling privileged enough to be here was for me encouraging, it suggests that we know where the problem lies. Now all we need to do is buy hungry talented players, for cheap. I know. Stating the obvious all round.

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Jon Punt and Andrew Lawn run the rule over the potential runners and riders for the vacant manager's job at Carrow Road, including the obvious names and some that are more in the Alex Neil from Hamilton mould.