The ACN Match Review – Coventry (h)

04/09/22

Another three points in the bag, brilliant travelling support and Todd haters (yawn). It's all here in Paul Buller's match review....

The atmosphere

A sweaty, soporific summer Saturday had a very lazy feel about it but three home goals, a disallowed away goal that was cancelled mid-celebration, a drum, another flag return and some rousing choruses from home and away supporters all helped to make it quite an entertaining afternoon despite the football being terrible at times. Even those who came for a grumble got their money’s worth.

The lineup

I feared we’d go back to our one-dimensional selves with Pukki in the central striker position and felt a sense of injustice for Sarge stuck out on the right once again but across the pitch there was so much movement in the first half that it didn’t seem to matter where anyone was playing. Núñez, Cantwell and in particular Ramsey created moments that reminded me of Farke-ball and Coventry could do nothing about it. We have, frankly, an embarrassingly strong squad for this league and it’s no wonder Dean Smith is delighted no one left in the transfer window.

Hurrah moment

The Hurrah Moment really belongs to the Coventry fans. They haven’t played any home matches because the pitch was torn up during the Commonwealth games, they’re bottom of the league, they’ve had years of being shunted about the midlands trying to find a home and their team were pretty awful in this match but the fans were loud, good natured and there were loads of them. They’ve been shafted for so many seasons yet they retain their enthusiasm and dignity and we’ll not hear many louder sets of opposition fans come to Carrow Road this season. Kudos, Cov fans, you’re an example to us all.

Boooo moment

This was all set to be the moment Norwich conceded a goal just at the point we were saying “we’re going to concede in a minute” but then it got disallowed and we went on to win with relative ease. So my Boooo Moment goes to the bloke in front of me who was on Todd Cantwell’s back from start to finish. I don’t care about Todd the personality and what you think of him, I care about Todd the player and yesterday he showed maturity, strength, skill and a willingness to do a lot of stuff he hasn’t previously looked up to. He’s finally able to play more than 60 minutes without tiring and his through-ball to create our third goal was absolutely exquisite. He’ll always have his moments but is it worth spending 90 minutes tutting and cussing at him when you could be enjoying the game?

Hero of the match

This was not the opposition against which to judge the potential of future stars but Aaron Ramsey, in a more attacking central position, caused Coventry all sorts of problems. He tired in the second half but he was exciting to watch and with Núñez, Cantwell, Sargent and Aarons all possessing similarly quick feet, there were times when Coventry could do little more than watch the ball being pinged about at a speed they couldn’t match. He wriggled through tight spaces, drew defenders out of position, played some lovely one-twos and set up Sargent’s goal. Whatever role Ramsey plays this season, you can see why Dean Smith was so keen to get him here.

Our post-match takeaway

As we applauded Nodge off the pitch, my nephew said to me “the story of the match is there is no story – and how long have we waited to say that about Norwich?”. And yes, on the face of it, this was about as routine as a 3-0 home win in the sunshine gets. We could talk about the couple of killer saves Tim Krul had to make to deny Coventry on the rare occasion they attacked; the endless dithering at 1-0 that nearly let them back into the game; the 20 minutes in the second half where we tried to control the game but kept giving the ball away. But you know what? These games are rehearsals for matches against bigger, better, uglier teams like Burnley away. Make your mistakes against teams you should be beating; get more people on the scoresheet; make that exciting midfield gel; make sure the times you do play well really count (and we did play very well at times). And enjoy it, because the Premier League is always only just around the corner.

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