I’m going to start with a positive, as to be honest they will be far and few between for the rest of this article. Last time the Canaries lost badly on the opening game of the season we ended up stealing their manager which then propelled us to a double promotion and back into the Premier League two seasons later. Three seasons later however we start the season without that manager and what can only be described as a poor performance against an in form Fulham side.
I went to the game and the general feeling was that we would lose this game, for those that went to a few pre-seasons like me we knew we had weaknesses in this team and we have a lot of work to do to stay in this league this year. I and many others however didn’t think it would be quite as bad an opening day as it turned out to be.
Our weakness in my opinion is in our full backs and Fulham knew this and exploited it to perfection, I can only presume a Fulham scout was watching the pre-season friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach as it felt a little like a repeat of that, just with 3 more goals against us.
The first 20 minutes of the game actually started reasonably well, Norwich were passing the ball around nicely which is a positive to take from the game as that skill clearly has not left the team. Yet, in that 20 minutes we failed to make any real chances except one chance that fell to Surman from a great ball through from Holt, but Surman shot wide. That was one of two real chances in the game and as soon as Fulham broke loose it all went terribly wrong.
The game stats clearly show the dominance that Fulham had over this game. Norwich lacked ideas, creativity and gave the ball away far too cheaply in all areas of the pitch. Holt lacked any real support from his colleagues, Howson looked unusually quiet, Pilkington had a bad day at the office, he looked slow paced and his touch was off. Surman did ok in his time on and I thought Bradley Johnson was the only player that had a good game. Johnson to me looked sharper and stronger than last year and I can see why Houghton see’s him as a key pin in his new Canaries team.
For me the worry is not in midfield or upfront, we’ve got the talent to get that right and Houghton needs the time to find the right balance. The worry for me is in defense, I think we’ve weakened since last year. I still can’t see why Whitbread and Ayala were not kept on, in my opinion they were our best two centre backs. Our biggest problem however is in the full backs. I’ve always been of the opinion that Russell Martin is far better in central defense and I have some serious doubts about Tierney returning from a season long injury to be Premier League standard this year, from what I’ve seen so far I really hope that Garrido is our answer. I don’t like picking on certain players as scapegoats as to be honest apart from Bradley Johnson and Elliot Bennett when he came on all the players were sub-standard, but Tierney is a weak link. He gave possession away 20 times in the game, none of his clearances were successful and he had the lowest pass rate of all of the back four. You just can’t get away with that at this level. Sorry Mad Marc.
Anyway, it’s one game, we’re not quite bottom thanks to our position in the alphabet and we play fellow 5-0 losers QPR next weekend. Now, that does promise to be a cracker as both teams look to bounce back, QPR probably hurting a little bit more.
I’m afraid it’s going to be a long, hard season but in Houghton we trust. We exceeded expectations last season, now this is where the hard work starts.
- Good Read