The ACN Match Review – Burnley (h)


In the City of Stories, can we ever have an arc of heady triumphs without dipping into an ice-cold reality check? Jon Punt comes to terms with the inevitable truths exposed by a team on a more obvious trajectory.

The atmosphere

Stilted – and there are myriad reasons for this but chiefly because we gifted a goal to the opposition after eight minutes, all while not being able to particularly get a grip on a match most Norwich fans had been looking forward to for weeks. Bubbles were burst quicker than Grant Hanley goes to ground after a tickle on the back and the crowd never really recovered. Muscle memory kicked in both on and off the pitch, and there was an air of inevitability all afternoon. 

Then there was the lack of recent game time. For the fitness levels Wagner needs to get into these players, it was probably a welcome relief for the management team to have two weeks away from matches to work with the squad. However, the momentum gathered from two goal-laden away victories came to a crashing halt with a harsh reality check. Had we entertained Birmingham last weekend and maybe put four past them too, the place would have been jumping. Burnley were a totally different proposition. 

Then there was the lack of drum, and while the club correctly chose not to employ their own drummer after City Elite were unfortunately unable to be there, its absence was sorely felt. 

The line up

Unchanged, and while you can’t criticise that when you’re coming off the back of two wonderful wins, it did feel like the inclusion of Giannoulis might have been a mistake. Burnley have retained their physical edge while also adding a technical proficiency to their play and Norwich struggled with it all too often in the first half, especially when trying to play through the press. 

The formation often appeared to flex towards an orthodox 4-4-2 in and out of possession and that didn’t seem to lend itself towards what Norwich were trying to do. 

That said, the bench now looks to offer some serious attacking options and this is undoubtedly a good thing given it is unreasonable to expect Hernandez and Dowell to continually and consistently hit the heights they’d achieved of late. 

Boooooo moment

Mistakes are punished way less frequently at Championship level, which Tim Krul has benefitted from recently when he oh-so-nearly gifted goals to both Preston and Coventry upon his return to the line-up. That luck ran out – and was perhaps the defining moment of the match – typified Norwich’s carelessness with the ball in the opening exchanges, and they were nearly punished further via McLean and Hanley mishaps. 

Oh, and Keith Stroud was crap. Ugh. 

Hero(es) of the match

Burnley to the South East is what is commonly known as a long old poke. The fact Sky television see fit to rearrange matches to lunchtime kick-offs when geographically it makes zero sense for supporters is a blight on our game and one we should not stand for. 

This bullshit is soon to be repeated when Sunderland visit Carrow Road next month, this time on a Sunday. 

It is a credit to each and every Burnley fan that they travelled and were in relatively fine voice. Sure, it’s easier when you’re all aboard HMS PTL, but praise where it’s due. 

Our post-match takeaway

It was all too easy, Wagner was at the wheel, Norwich were on their way to Wembley and it was joyous. Well, of course that couldn’t continue unchecked because we are Norwich and very often we just can’t have nice things. 

This was chastening, although maybe it’s nothing to get particularly panicked about, it’s just telling us what we already know, that the top teams in this division are well over the horizon.

Much of the pre-match murmuring around the ground was full of ‘I think we can beat em y’know Neyul’ style talk and it felt like Norwich had been brought back to earth with a resounding thump. 10th in the table and chasing the pack again.

Maybe that suits us; maybe it dampens expectation to a point where City can go about their business without the pressure a fully expectant crowd brings. However, this was as poor defensively as most matches under he-who-shall-not-be-named (but is probably occupying a golf course somewhere, or Jack Grealish’s corporate box). 

Burnley were everything Norwich aspire to be right now, expertly playing out from the back while also engaging their own excellent high press with a degree of organisation rarely seen at Carrow Road. As well a coached side as you will see, and it won’t be a surprise if they reach 100 points. 

Now, this might just be one of those days. Norwich could be just fine against the rest of the division, but at the time of writing, it’s difficult to foresee what comes next.

There is much work to do and the games now come thick and fast. We’re entering a period of matches which will do much to decide whether the play-offs are a realistic proposition or if it’s Operation Total Reset come the summer.


  1. Graham Ramshead says:

    All ways like to read oppression view as your own fan’s reading of a game can be over blown. Before the game the general consensus was a point would be a good one, this impart because Norwich have had a bounce after sacking previous manager and part because they have retained there premier squad, I think the playoffs are realistic keep doing what you’re doing Burnley are a decent side already in preseason 😊

  2. Paul says:

    Fair comments, you don’t look a bad side tbh and I can see you making the playoffs, atm we are just knocking over teams for fun so don’t be to downhearted I’m sure you will be fine, good luck for the rest of the season.

  3. As an old Burnley Fan (since the 50’s) I can clearly understand your frustration. We have suffered it for decades. Whilst the sacking of Sean was a shock from the new management, for once their manager selection has proved to be ground breaking. With the intake of so many new young players our expectations for a return to the Premier league were seriously tempered at the start. VK has worked miracles, but also the players have taken to the demands magnificently. Norwich fans, dont be too downhearted. Support your manager and the team, the opportunity for the playoffs is spread around so many teams that I am sure there will be only a few critical points amongst the whole top half of the Championship. Best of luck.

  4. Andrew Nightingale says:

    Enjoyed your report Jon and agree with points you make.
    I hoped that Wagner’ s call for vocal support would be answered, there was a lot of talking up the atmosphere in the lead up to the game. It didn’t happen, block B of the Barclay was quiet as a church and looking around I could see no enthusiasm in faces. The noise levels only rose following Krul’s error, negative noises, booing our own team and ironic cheering when Tim did kick it long. How so called fans think that will help our cause I have no idea.
    There seems to be the sense of entitlement, that we should roll any team over in the Championship but it’s never been true, it has to be earned every time. These fans expect 100% from the players they love to criticise but rarely give even 50% themselves.
    As the man said, will will only succeed together.

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