The ACN Match Review – Middlesbrough (h)


The reds have given us the blues. Maddie Mackenzie shares an overview of something that’s less a match and more some kind of squidgy mishmash of disengaging events.

The line-up

The return of naughty boy Marcelino Núñez was the one change made out of choice from Norwich’s capitulation against Leeds, with George Long’s inclusion necessitated by Angus Gunn’s early injury. No real surprises, no real complaints.

The atmosphere

I’d say Carrow Road’s not a happy place at the moment but even the boos that greeted the full time whistle weren’t particularly enthusiastic. There seems to be no energy for anything: the first OTBC feels like going through the motions, every attack is accompanied by only the most half-hearted of cheers as everyone’s safe in the knowledge it will only lead to a turnover in possession. It feels like nothing, positive or negative, is worth reacting to.

Hurrah moment

It came to light that the young lad who sits next to me is a triplet – this piece of information was so entertaining that we all missed Boro’s first goal. Everything that actually happened on the pitch somewhat pales in comparison.

Boo moment

In general I don’t care what other fans do at a football match. Leave early? Fine. Boo? Up to you. Spend the whole game on your phone? None of my business. The one thing people do that drives me up the wall is clap opposition players WHILE THEY’RE PLAYING AGAINST US!

Jonny Howson isn’t jogging over to the corner flag thinking about what a lovely time he had in Norwich, he’s thinking about how best to score against us. It also then led to the awkward moment where Boro got another corner seconds later and no one really knew how to react to Howson coming straight back over.

After the game, when they can’t hurt us anymore? Go for it. At a moment where they’re actively attempting to take points off of us? Maybe not.

Hero of the match

Within one minute of being subbed on, Borja Sainz had taken on a couple of players and outmuscled a Boro player to win us a corner. He looked like someone who actually wanted to play football instead of wandering aimlessly around the pitch waiting for someone to come and give him a hug. It’s a bit much to say he’s the answer to all of Norwich’s prayers, but a bit of that kind of attitude can’t hurt.

Lungi watch

You might remember that, long long ago, we had a player named Jacob Sørensen. He wore the number 19 shirt and often had the air of someone who’d accidentally walked onto a football pitch but would rather be reading quietly somewhere. You could be forgiven for forgetting he exists, given that he seems to have vanished from existence.

Lungi picked up his typical ‘start of season injury’ unusually early this time around and was slated to be back for the September international break. 45 minutes for the youth team later and he still “needs some time.” Bit rude really, given his lacklustre warmups were one of the few things that got me through the tail end of last season. Come on Lungi, I know it’s not the most appetising prospect, but as long as Wagner’s in post you’re guaranteed to get chucked on for our best performer in the 73rd minute.  

Our post-match takeaway

I tweeted (Xd? What do you do now?) the other day that I’ve not really enjoyed watching Norwich since Farke was in charge. It’s not something I wanted to admit to. I loved Farke and was crushed by his sacking, and didn’t want my feelings towards the club to look like childish sour grapes.

But it’s been going on too long and it seems that other people are starting to feel the same way. Going to Carrow Road used to be the highlight of my week. It meant meeting my mates, putting flags out, having a chant and a cheer and a bit of fun. It’s nothing but a chore now.

It started off with leaving matches early when Dean Smith was in charge – always with a good excuse ready, of course. Then I didn’t go to a midweek game because I had to work early the next day. Then I skipped a Saturday game because I just really didn’t feel like it. Now I have to convince myself to go to football because the truth is that I just do not want to be there.

It’s sad and defeatist, I know. I don’t want to feel this way towards something that used to be one of the biggest sources of joy in my life. Even when we weren’t playing well I still returned home feeling glad I’d gone. I’m writing this sat at a bus stop, where I’ve been for the last hour and will remain for at least another 20 minutes. It just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Why am I putting myself through this when it stopped being fun so long ago?

Honestly, I don’t know. It’s been a while since Norwich were mediocre – preferring to fluctuate between bafflingly atrocious and winning the league at a canter – but even during those past mediocre patches I never felt this apathetic. I think so much of it stems from a deliberate steering away from the plan Stuart Webber promised us was in place when he joined in May 2017. I’ll repeat what I’ve said before: if the Webber of 2017 looked at the Norwich of 2023, he would cite us as an example of a football club going wrong.

I know we have a lot to feel grateful for. We have owners who care, new shareholders who seem genuinely interested in the club, some truly talented players who are capable of single-handedly getting 27k people on their feet. In the grand scheme of things we’re not doing too badly.

But when 5th November rolls around and I face a choice between watching the men at Carrow Road or the women at the Nest, I’m starting to think there’s not really a choice to be made at all.


  1. Ali C says:

    Ah, Maddie. It genuinely seems like you need a break from it. Most of us have been there with this club at some point, and this is a deep trough at the moment. It’ll turn at some point, but in the meantime go and have some fun down at The Nest, and I’m looking forward to reading the report.

  2. Michael says:

    I Really feel for you, and Boro are often on the same plane as yourselves, they get us all wound up but to only eventually let us all down. Its difficult to keep decent players, because as soon as you have one the best ever new boys the premier league sniff us out and offer a decent amount of motza. Not enough to set our teams alight but enough to turn the clubs bosses other cheek. Sadly we will forever be in this position.all

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