Distress calls, piggy-backs and elevated views. Quite the review debut for Jon McGregor on the wettest of wet nights at the Carra...
An almost unchanged line-up from the last couple of games, with Gibbs coming in for…. well, I guess he came in for Idah, but then dropped back behind Barnes? It wasn’t quite clear. There’s a cracking line-up in this squad, but tonight’s, even with the energetic substitutions in the second half, wasn’t quite it.
As an aside: it’s very pleasing to see Giannoulis nail down a regular starting spot. I’ve liked the look of him since he joined, despite some well-highlighted ourliázontas, but this season he seems to have both cut out the mistakes and taken more confidence in his own ability to run like hell into the opposition’s box, which (spoiler alert) he showed more of tonight.
There were not many, to be honest. Despite some slick passing movements on an even slicker surface, some great space-creation, almost-rock-solid defending, and about ten thousand corners, we never quite succeeded in bringing the game to life. (With the exception, granted, of King Kenny hitting the bar.)
But I’ll give this to Giannoulis, my man of the match, who mixed excellent positioning with well-timed interceptions, as well as those aforementioned charging runs. The stand-out interception from Dimi came midway through the first half, when he somehow managed to get in front of a Leicester striker – sorry, I don’t know who it was, but for a moment he was clear through on goal – and give him an actual piggy-back all the way to Angus Gunn.
Towards halftime the ref, who had been having a fairly calm and decent game until then, seemed to absolutely lose his shit and just start booking and bollocking Norwich players for no discernible reason. It was weird, uncalled for, and culminated in him giving Leicester the softest penalty I’ve seen in a long time. After seeing the replays later I could maybe have been mature and accepting about it, but when the ref waved away Giannoulis being fouled in exactly the same way in the second half I was extremely not into it.
This was my first time in the Upper Barclay, where I’d been told the elevated view would give me an objective and dispassionate view of events. So, objectively and dispassionately: the ref done us bad.
Hero of the match
Well, here’s the thing. This team is so close to clicking into what could be a very good top gear, but so often tonight we were lacking that final decisive moment or flash of inspiration. We are, as a great philosopher once said, holding out for a hero. Preferably someone strong, fast, and fresh from the fight.
In “Bowling Alone,” Robert Putnam’s classic 1995 essay about declining social capital, he argued that the increasingly common sight of Americans going to bowling alleys by themselves spoke to the loss of civic cohesion and social interaction, and would ultimately lead to the collapse of American democracy. What, then, would he have said about me walking alone to Carrow Road and sitting by myself in the Upper Barclay? Well, he’d have to cope with the fact that when you’re with other people you’re never truly alone; and when you’re at Carrow Road on a blustery floodlit night with the drums a-beating and the noise a-building and the stakes even at this early stage of the season feeling as high as they did tonight, well then you’ve got all the social capital you’ll ever need and everything’s all right with the world and Robert Putnam (who scholars now argue misinterpreted his own field studies and was just jealous because he’d never bowled a strike in his whole entire life) can go whistle.
It was good and loud, is what I’m saying, and even if the noise inevitably faltered as the game went on, it was for a short time a pleasure to be part of.
Post match takeaway
It’s always too early in the season to start reading too much into things, until suddenly it’s too late in the season to catch up. It is, admittedly, very early in the season. But tonight felt important – partly because taking points off Leicester seems likely to count for something by April, and partly because the blip against Rotherham (points) and the blip against Stoke (stodgy performance) needed to register as blippety-blips rather than blankety-blank changes in direction.
We didn’t manage that tonight. For most of the game we held our own, and for much of the second half an equaliser and even a winner seemed possible. But the scoreboard doesn’t lie. Blip-blippety-blip is starting to sound like Morse code. Let’s just hope it’s not a distress call.
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