The ACN Match Review – Rotherham (h)


And if you haven’t already got the bends, the follow-up to Wednesday’s dank duvet of a match was a sparkling sunshine spanking. Paul Buller is free to alliterate, because winners do what we like.

The line-up

Are you fit? Great, you’re playing!

The atmosphere

Like a fun day out at a friendly against lower league opposition. Sunshine, drums, songs, beers, wine, Ipswich collapsing in the day’s early kick-off, a goal every 10 minutes in the first half. We haven’t had one of these for a while and it was most pleasant.

Things got a bit dull in the second half as Norwich subbed on anyone who can play football, so quite a lot of people popped off to the pub at around 75 minutes, which in a weird way was kind of fair enough.

This can’t have been fun for the (very) few Rotherham fans who turned up and sang for the first five minutes, but judging by their low numbers they probably knew what to expect. Hopefully they were consoled by a nice sunny day out in the Fine City, and I’m pretty sure I saw a number of them disappearing before half time to do exactly that.

Hurrah moment

There were lots of hurrah moments but it was especially nice to see Thomas Sørensen get a full game, a goal, an assist, put in some crunching tackles and make some good passes. This has the added benefit of making ACN’s Maddie very happy indeed, and you can be sure you’ll be reading about this across local news media channels imminently. 

Boooo moment

Not much to boo here so I will pick on Rotherham’s number nine, who decided that the best way to hide his complete lack of footballing ability was to assault a number of our players, mostly by tackling them above the neck.

Ben Gibson, Kenny McLean, Jack Stacey all received fingers, elbows, hands and other body parts to their faces and yet the referee seemed oblivious to the kind of violence that only a few hours later on nearby Prince of Wales Road would have you in the back of a police car. Anyway, he was shite, eventually got subbed off, and won’t be in this league for much longer, so let’s not be too precious about it.

Hero of the match

Borja-botherers beware, this paragraph contains unwavering support for this week’s most-maligned man-of-the-moment (alongside abhorrent alliteration). There were a lot of people piling into Borja Sainz this week and doubtless choking on their Friday lunchtime meal-deals when the FA rescinded his pointless red card. Enter a pissed-off Spaniard, against an opponent with neither the guile nor speed to do anything to stop him. He took Rotherham to pieces, doing that thing he does, scoring a goal that lifts you out of your seat as the shot leaves his boot, drawing a guttural, primal gasp/roar thing from your throat as you watch the ball speed and curve beautifully past the keeper. We must treasure him while we can.

Our post-match takeaway

What more to say? David Wagner is developing a habit of delivering just when things threaten to turn. I needlessly worried about yet another different centre-back pairing, fearing this might be a tricky game for a defence that struggled so badly against Rotherham when injuries hit in the autumn.

Yes, Rotherham were a Sunday League team, but somehow Wagner seems to have the players more in tune with each other and able to give enough to get by. I’m not sure he has that fabled ‘plan B’ that top managers are supposed to keep in their pockets, as we’ve seen when we go down to 10 men or face obdurate teams away from Carrow Road, but they do actually look like they know what they’re doing.

So all this could be quite exciting if, by the time we play Ipswich and Leicester in the same week in April, we have a near-fully fit squad and we’re still in with a play-off shout. Saying that, if we lose to Stoke on Saturday we’ll be back to booing substitutions and swearing at Delia, so what do I know. Happy 5-0, everyone.


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