The ACN Match Review – Blackburn (h)

17/12/22

First home match after the World Cup break, or borderline violent fever dream topped off with Champions-League-level blame shifting? Maddie Mackenzie defrosts enough to digest the madness.

The atmosphere

Ohhhhh boy. Let’s start at the beginning.

There were train strikes, it was freezing, and everyone has that weird cold-that-isn’t-Covid-but-is-awful-anyway. No one was expecting a full house.

I don’t think anyone was expecting Carrow Road to be that empty though.

Those that were there were miserable. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for the stadium announcer, his ‘LET’S GET THIS PLACE BOUNCING’ not even rewarded with an ironic cheer.

Then the match started and everything went mental.

The crowd was never louder than when the anti-Smith chants were ringing out around the ground.  There were boos at halftime, boos at full-time, and boos when the ball was passed around the back for too long.

At least the higher-ups got their wish: Carrow Road was noisy…

The line-up

Unchanged, with Núñez back on the bench. No real surprise given we won (yes, I know) against Swansea.

Hurrah moment

Putting anything under this header just seems insincere, doesn’t it?

Boooo moment

Two teams of grown men getting so caught up in arguing with each other that they fail to notice the young child trapped beneath them. Not nice to watch in real-time and just a bit weird to look back on.

Hero of the match

I love Teemu Pukki. This isn’t exactly an unpopular opinion, but I haven’t said it enough recently. It’s no cliche to say the man has given his blood, sweat, and tears to this club, and how have we rewarded him?

He gets to play for Dean Smith every week.

Josh Sargent won MOTM, and rightly so, but I want to celebrate who he is as a player and what he means to this club. Teemu Pukki has shone on every stage for Norwich, from winning Championship titles to being by far the best player in two dismal Premier League seasons. It’s easy to forget that before Pukki signed it seemed as if Norwich would never again have a competent striker, and instead, we got the GOAT.

If he gets a big move in January there should be no one denying that he deserves it. Who wouldn’t want to get as far away from this mess as possible?

Lungi watch

I’m sure everyone has been as concerned as I have in regard to our apparently forgotten number 19. Back in August, fresh from scoring a wonder goal in the cup, he succumbed to ‘The Curse of the Left Back’ (which even those who only hold the position on an emergency basis are clearly not immune to) and it was declared he would be out for six weeks.

Four months later (or 18 weeks, but who’s counting?) and here we are. Lungi is back in the gym and starting team training next week, so we may finally be treated to his long-awaited return. I for one am buzzing at going back to him missing out on the spot on a bench because the manager has no intention of playing him rather than because of an injury. It’s the little things.

Our post-match takeaway

Thanks to a post-match injury (don’t check the Strictly scores while you’re walking on an icy pavement) I took longer than normal to write this review, so for once got the benefit of reading the post-match interviews before I blurted my thoughts.

“The narrative has been set, a lot of them have been waiting for this to happen or wanted it to. Fortunately, our next game is away from home. You feel like we have to score two very quick goals at home to get people on our side.”

Is there any other club where a manager could say this and still have job security? I doubt it but at Norwich, this attitude has become embedded in the club culture. It used to be something they kept private, Stuart Webber’s disdain for the supporters something that was assumed rather than stated.

It’s not a secret anymore. Dean Smith knows he can say this because the man who essentially runs our football club agrees with him. We are now inconveniences, our opinions wrong and unwanted. Unless we can sit in our seats with smiles plastered to our faces, singing our songs and clapping our team, we are not the people Norwich want in the stands. The message is clear: get on board or go away.

The signs have been there for a while if you knew what to look at, so this apparent turnaround from Webber’s outlined ideology in May 2017 shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. There is now a clear hierarchy at the club and the man at the top has raised the shutters and locked us out. Why should we be shocked at Dean Smith’s comments when we all know what his boss thinks?

Not that Smith’s blameless, of course. The whole Smith/Norwich relationship was fragile from the start. Dean Smith had just been let go from his dream job yet proudly proclaimed that he didn’t need to take time off, that he was perfectly fine, then jumped into the next job that came calling. Stubbornness or the sign of a true professional? Make up your own mind on that one.

Things at Norwich City Football Club are rotten, and I can’t see things changing any time soon. I hope I’m wrong. I’d love nothing more than to see some big decisions made over the coming days and some seismic changes made, but I don’t think the Norwich we’re now faced with is capable of doing it. I just want to enjoy going to Carrow Road again.

There’s always a silver lining though, so I’ll leave you with the words of the stadium announcer:

“This is our last game before Christmas.”

Comments

  1. Matt Breese says:

    Great article.
    I’m normally a positive fan without being a ‘happy clapper’ but Smith’s post match comments have made me so angry. Surely no way back for him now?
    Most of the players are playing with such little confidence and without a change unsure how this gets better.
    I don’t look forward to going to the matches anymore, but of course I’ll renew my season ticket because its ‘my’ club.
    Please please please get rid of that dinosaur from our club.

  2. John says:

    Today Maddie you’ve said what I suspect 25000 NCFC fans are thinking.
    I’d had my fill of Smith’s tactics (or rather lack of them) by this time last year, so didn’t renew mt ST’s. I suspect that unless there is a huge shift from the board, many more will do the same as myself this time around.
    I’ve been going since the early ’60’s, so have seen, suffered and enjoyed many ups and downs. However, given his comments last night, this has to be the biggest down of all, and to see our club in this state hurts; it really, really does.
    Square peg and round hole he most certainly is, but I put that down to our mountain climber and no one else (and I still wonder who his first choice to replace our favourite German actually was).

The ACN Podcast - Episode 106

17/11/22

Edie, Jon & Tom reflect on another positive start and underwhelming finish against Middlesbrough, we talk about the future, take listener questions about sacking Smith, Webber's decision making and more.

The ACN Podcast - Episode 107

21/12/22

It's beginning to look a lot like Smithmas, not likely to have a corner flag this side of Luton(a) so Connor, Maddie, Tom & Jon reflect on the awful atmosphere and unfortunately how it's likely to get worse, we talk unlikely managerial candidates and try and find a bright side before Crimbo.

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