The ACN Match Review – Everton (A)

26/09/21

While a day out in Liverpool to visit the grand old Goodison Park is always enjoyable, six league games with no points and just two goals leaves Matthew McGregor a lot to ponder. Is time running out?

Biggest positive

I haven’t seen Norwich play since Sheffield United away in March 2020, the game we shouldn’t have played and which felt reckless to be at. It’s been a long time since that day. I walked away from Bramall Lane miserable at the performance and a little scared about the coming pandemic.

Today, I didn’t care as much about where we are in the league, as I care about being able to stand side by side with a friend of 30 years who I haven’t seen in two and belt out the first On The Ball of the day. It’s not an easy time to be a Norwich fan, but I’ll never ever take being a football supporter for granted again. The result wasn’t good, but being there was. 

Biggest problem

For me personally. Taking 20 minutes to get a pint at half-time and finding Carling was the only remaining option. Downing that brought back more memories of my teenage years than was optimal. 

For the team, it’s more serious. We are going to find it very, very hard to win games in this league without scoring goals – and we don’t look like doing much of that. We had periods, mainly in the second half, where we were very on top – not ridiculously so, but very much on top even though it never seemed odds-on we’d actually do a goal. Likewise, we had shots on target (mainly courtesy of Normann), but we never had the momentum of “we’re gonna score in a minute, score in a minute”. And have we ever got close to singing that this season? 

Today was better than last week, but at this pace of improvement in front of goal, our first points will come against Palace on 28 December and the season will be long gone. 

Funniest moment of the game

Not so much funny haha, as funny peculiar. The two old boys behind me, always seemingly on the edge of their seats to have a moan, really let rip after Everton’s second. The usual fare was spewed, but one line made me actually guffaw: “Why doesn’t Delia find someone who will invest in the club? Someone who has money to spare, so we won’t have to sell any players?”

It’s a good idea lads, maybe put it in the suggestion box on the off chance no one at the club has considered it yet. Like Marlo once said in that episode of the Wire, “you want it to be one way, but it’s the other way.”

Did an along come Norwich happen?

It did (and I can’t emphasize this strongly enough) not. 

Norwich’s best player

This was my first game of the season and therefore my first chance to see Normann in the flesh. He’s gud hint he, buh?

In a robust but otherwise toothless first half, his speculative shot got the juices flowing. And it was notable that after Everton’s penalty, he went straight to pick the ball out of the net and ran it to the centre spot, eager to speed the restart along. 

A note on someone who wasn’t our best player today but could be, every week, in the future. Like any Gen X manager, Farke was well within his rights to feel baffled by his Gen Z subordinate’s failure to follow simple instructions and get angry with it. But if we’re going to be tougher, stronger, nastier, it requires us to be tough, strong, and nasty. Tzolis is a talent, and he reacted today with the maturity of a kid who is going places fast, moving the ball well and adding some attacking zip. Farke knows what he’s doing, and if he has the time, he could mould Tzolis into a real worldy. 

What was the atmosphere like?

I want to be positive here because we had a really nice experience before kick off with friendly Everton fans everywhere and a lovely walk to the ground. It’s a stadium that’s easy to love. It’s an old-fashioned ground, nestled between terraced housing, in a normal part of the city, with crowded approaches, oozing atmosphere. So, I want to be positive…

But the home fans were, by some distance, the quietest I’ve ever experienced outside of Craven Cottage – and I’ve seen Norwich play in 53 different grounds over 25+ years. I even marked down the time (79m35s) when we could hear Everton fans signing a song. It turned out to be the only one they managed all game. It really was embarrassing and made for a stilted and slightly bizarre atmosphere. 

Norwich fans did their best and the away support was strong throughout, with most staying to clap the players off (except for the aforementioned boo-boys.) 

Summary

It’s a funny old time isn’t it? Although a “how shit must you be, we’re drawing away” chant broke out after six minutes, this was in irony, and the fans were (on the whole) still with the team. 

But something is clearly very wrong. I won’t, and I hope others won’t, join the clickbait charge towards demanding heads roll. But I’ve moved over the last week from angry defence of Farke to a stance of  “I love Farke but…”. We can’t go on like this. 

Looking at the run of five games after today (games we should absolutely be competing in) you really can see a situation where we still remain on nul-points at the end. That’s the point at which changes will be needed. 

Having said that, it didn’t feel like we were miles off. We matched, and outfought in periods, a decent side and 2-0 flattered Everton. 1-1 would have been fair even if it were unexpected. The shape today was better, and it was (again) individual errors that are more to blame than mismanagement. 

However, time is running out even for those of us who are desperate for this manager, and his style, and his ethos, to succeed. 

Comments

  1. Tony Cains says:

    Unless the opposition score own goals we will find it impossible to win games without scoring goals.

  2. Cobwatch says:

    11 games without a point? That, unfortunately, does seem to be possible as things stand. Literally worse than Project Restart. A second dose of humiliation.

    DF has credit in the bank, so I agree, as awful as that would be, it is time that is due him. Appropriately generous.

    I hope it does not come to that…

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