The ACN Match Review – Bristol Rovers (h)


Lured from her burrow by a rare Sørensen/Carrow Road conjunction, Maddie Mackenzie finds herself distinctly underwhelmed.

The line-up

The FA Cup is a perfect opportunity to give some of your promising youngsters a taste of first team football. In that spirit the average age of our starting 11 was 28, and there was just one player younger than 20 on the bench. I’m not saying that we should be playing youth for the sake of it but it would be nice to see some of our younger players – it’s not a surprise we’re losing lauded talents to other clubs (it was interesting to see Alex Matos sign for Huddersfield during the week) when the pathway from academy to first team is not as clear as it had been. Still, it was good to see Josh Sargent get minutes.

The atmosphere

Cup games rub me up the wrong way. As someone whose season ticket is in an area that stands, I can’t get my head around sitting for large portions of the game only to stand up when we’re on the attack (we can see the final third when we’re sat down, so just stay sitting?). That aside, the drum was present and there were attempts to get chants going – which is always a trial when the makeup of the ground is so different to a league game. The most popular of these chants, perhaps unsurprisingly, were directed at the head coach.

Hurrah moment

Captain Canary saved a penalty! My friend is the individual behind the mask/head/costume and was distraught, but I like the sight of a massive bird desperately trying to come to terms with denying a child their big moment.

Booooo moment

Oh Kellen Fisher, what were you thinking? The young defender had a bit of a nightmare for their goal, picking up an accidental assist. For a player who’s had a few bright moments this season it was disappointing to see him look out of his depth against League-One opposition; of course, he can take comfort that the same can be said of most of his colleagues.

Hero of the match/Lungi watch

Even in the dark days of Dean Smith there was one thing that made me get on the bus and slog down to Carrow Road: the knowledge that Lungi would be, at least, there warming the bench. The loss of this incentive has been very difficult for me. 

Over the last few weeks Norwich started drip feeding the possibility of his return. He appeared in a few training videos. There were sightings of him in the background of photos. Then, at his Friday press conference, Wagner confirmed he’d be getting minutes. I was teaching when I got that notification and somehow managed to hold it together, but it was a close-run thing.

Finally, after all those long months, the moment was here. How I’ve missed that lacklustre, disinterested warmup! That emotionless approach to football! Having something interesting to pay attention to! There was a time I thought I’d never see Lungi in a Norwich shirt again, so today was the happiest I’ve been at Carrow Road in a long time.

If you ignore the football, which I pretty much did.

Our post-match takeaway

When I was paying attention to the match it seemed typical of so many of our games this season. Why have attacking gusto when you can saunter around the pitch against League-One opposition? David Wagner’s comments on Friday set out his approach to the game: yes it would be nice to win but a replay’s not the end of the world, so we’d be quite happy with any result thank you very much. As motivational quotes go it’s not quite “you’ve got to die to get three points.” It’s hardly a surprise that the players don’t seem up for it when their coach is telling the world how little he cares about getting a win.

It’s lacklustre, it’s uninspiring, it’s boring. I don’t enjoy going to Carrow Road anymore and spend a large portion of the match looking forward to the moment I can leave – I know that’s negative, but unfortunately many Norwich fans are feeling the same. No one wants to be so fed up with something they love so much. I don’t enjoy being negative, but the knowledge that Wagner is probably still safe in his job after yet another turgid showing doesn’t exactly inspire joy. 

Who is holding him to account? Their comments at the AGM showed Delia and Michael are perfectly content with the way things are going and Ben Knapper has been conspicuous in his silence. Wagner’s post-match comments to the media are not those of a man who feels insecure in his job. I would love to be proven wrong, love for these words to never see the light of day because they’re out of date, but I can’t picture a leadership that saw the loss at Plymouth as acceptable making any strong decisions in the wake of this performance.

This time last year, Norwich lost to Blackburn Rovers in Wagner’s first game in charge. Since then there have been false dawns aplenty but they have all been just that: false, and devastatingly so. The Norwich hierarchy need to put their business hats on and consider how close season ticket renewal time is. As one person leaving the ground said: “I wish I had a season ticket so I could watch this every week!” Those in charge could be in for a rude awakening if changes are not made, and soon.


  1. John says:

    Re the final paragraph….surely some text is missing….why would anyone; anyone, want to watch that garbage every week??
    (Or am I missing something….)

In Defence Of… Defence


For all the flak directed at David Wagner this season, argues contrarian provocateur Nathan Hill, he got it right yesterday.

The ACN Match Review - Hull (a)


A win, and a decent one at that. Paul Buller beholds a resurgence in quality that’s starting to outweigh our usual shenanigans.

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