Andy and Tom are very similar. They're both shorter than the average human man. They both work in digital service jobs. They're both liberal, tolerant lefties. They both enjoy winding Jon up. They both married women named Jo and they both attend Carrow Road every other weekend. However, they see very different games when they get there. How different? Let's find out. We asked both to independently review the same game. Here's what they made of it...
Random star performer
Andy - There were some good performances and some less so, but for me that stand out was Mario Vrancic. The playmaker has divided opinion this season, but with each passing week he appears more attuned to the demands of this league. 3 defence splitting passes showcased his undoubted ability, but equally impressive was his willingness to put a foot in and help Reed shield the back 4.
Tom - Mario Vrancic was exceptional in the first half. Pleasingly (and novelly) the Bosnian looked to push the ball forwards much more often than sideways and some of his through balls, often played first time or on the volley, were inch perfect. He doesn’t offer the defensive nor physical attributes that the long term replacement to Tettey will bring us, a summer transfer that’s essential to get right if the next campaign is to be more fruitful than this.
Moment of the match
Andy - One of the aforementioned first half balls from Vrancic, who spotted Josh Murphy had peeled off the back of Chris Gunter. Spotting Josh’s clever drift behind his man was one thing, but then to play a disguised, first time clip over a crowded penalty area and onto his chest was something else. Ultimately the chance came to nothing, but it was still delightful to watch.
Tom - The penalty was significant as it ceased the one passage of the game when Reading were really getting on top. Judging by the TV replays the official awarding the spot kick may have been slightly fortuitous, but who cares, from that point on, we never truly looked like taking anything less than 3 points.
Andy - A bundle of frustrated energy on the touchline, both with his team who were blowing hot and cold - one notable explosion at Murphy for attempting to control a simple ball with an extravagant flick and seeing it disappear into the City Stand was ferocious - and the officials, who were bemusing throughout. Personally, I felt he left his subs a little late and we could have perhaps settled creeping nerves earlier with a refresh of tiring legs with 20 to go, but this was a fairly comfortable win, achieved with a depleted squad.
Tom - I was delighted to see his frustration when the midfield moved the ball too slowly in the first half, perhaps it has been starting to bore him too. The number 1 gripe I heard yet again around the South stand was the delay of substitutions. He made the first sub on 89mins when Srbeny had been clearly physically spent by 70. My other Farke swipe has to be allowing his team to sit way too deep at 2-1 and the last 15 mins at 3-2. It meant that a very, very poor Reading team were able to throw balls into the box from the middle of our half without meeting any resistance.
Biggest positive to take
Andy - A win and 3 goals meant the overheard voices on the chilly walk home were much more positive than post Forest, despite the actual performance being very similar in all but goals scored. 2 defeats in 16 games is a solid run, in what is now an extended 2018-19 pre-season.
Tom - Onel Hernandez continues to develop into an impressive looking signing. Always driving forward and looking to take his man on, his Spongebob Squarepants-like frame made him a tricky customer for all their defence, as his mobility along the front line rather than just sticking out wide caused problems all afternoon. Special mention also to Josh Murphy who today seemed spurred on by the wing play on the opposite flank. That’s 100 league appearances now and on that performance there's a part of me that feels the season he truly realises his potential will be 2018/19.
Andy - Uncharacteristic defensive lapses meant this was not as comfortable and we again lacked clinical incisiveness when it was required, which combined meant a bitingly cold afternoon was nowhere near as comfortable as it should have been.
Tom - Srbeny looked like a competiton winner. Credit where it's due he did pluck the ball out of the air with aplomb a couple of times, but he has an uncanny knack for being in the right place a second too late. The one time the ball bounced kindly and he was one on one from 8 yards he fluffed his lines appallingly. I'd like to see an entirely new front line next year, the current options are simply not promotion-worthy, either from a psychological or ability point of view.
Andy - The first 10 minutes seemed like it might defy the pre-game expectation of being an apathetic and silent Carrow Road. Then we scored. Atmospheric expectations were then defied as despite the players putting on an entertaining and attacking display that was getting rewards, the Barclay fell silent, proving that the argument that fans need players to play well to create atmosphere is an excuse. Soon it was 2-0, a goal which only served to make the Barclay quieter. Here’s my frustration; this was a game we were dominating and yet nothing. If you’re cold, singing will warm you. If you’re bored, singing will entertain you. If you hate football, stop going.
Tom - It was cold, most were wearing gloves, and it was a dead rubber which led to a quieter Carrow Road than the recent 0-0s. Reading fans were spread thin and from their substitution-booing and sarcastic chants sound a lot more fed up with Stam than I am with Farke.
Andy - A win. It wasn’t 90 minutes of scintillating football and the 2nd 45 saw City retreat into a shell, which ultimately won them the game, but did little to dispel the current popular narrative that the only football worth watching is kick and rush, whack it forward and get it in the box every chance you get.
Tom – Norwich are still a team who can attack successfully OR defend robustly, there are more questions in our squad than answers. But at least we won and took a few of the kind of chances we've spurned in the last few months at home. In a season that's going nowhere, I've become grateful for very little in the way of entertainment. Nothing here really to move me from remaining wholly suspicious of Webber's ability to spot players and Farke's skillset at getting the best from them. Still, at least I'm in the warm now.
While you're here. Two things; first, did you know we have a podcast? It's available via iTunes and Soundcloud. Alternatively you can just listen to it in your browser via our podcast page. Norwich legend Darren Huckerby was our recent guest as we debated the latest talking points regarding NCFC.
Second, to keep AlongComeNorwich advert free and to help us fund additional initiatives aimed at improving the Carrow Road atmosphere, we occasionally produce exclusive t-shirts/merchandise.
This time we've produced two t-shirts, celebrating the further German invasion at Carra Rud. Limited stock still left for those of a small or medium persuasion. As always, we take no profit from these and put all the revenue back into the site and things we can all enjoy.