What did Jon Rogers and Dan Brigham learn from Norwich’s embarrassing thrashing at the hands of Newcastle? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Ruddy, Dorrans and Martin should look away now, but it’s not all negative…
Dorrans is the weak link in midfield
It's tempting to bemoan Norwich's defence here, but this is supposed to be about things we learned (although Jon gives the defence a good bashing below). Until January there's nothing Alex Neil can do about it, but one area he does have control over is the personnel in front of the defence. In particular, the two holding midfielders.
It’s easy to like Graham Dorrans. He’s neat, he’s tidy and, when given time, can set the tempo. Much like Andrew Surman, in fact. And, also much like Surman, he is horribly lightweight against a powerful midfield. There is no use being neat and tidy when the opposition are galloping past you.
Dorrans has started eight of Norwich’s nine league matches this season. This would be fine if Norwich had a strong enough back four to afford a playmaker as one of the holding midfielders, but the reality is now clear: Dorrans is a luxury Norwich can’t afford. According to Opta, his average touch position was just ahead of the halfway line; when your full-backs are also pushing up so high, this is suicidal against a quality midfield.
Youssouf Mulumbu isn't the Patrick Vieira-esque player that some appear to be hyping him up to be, but his return can’t come quick enough to form a more protective layer in front of the defence with Alex Tettey (who was also off his game against Newcastle, but has been excellent in a demanding role for much of the season). Until Mulumbu’s back, Jonny Howson – who’s far more combative and just as good on the ball as Dorrans – needs to slot in beside Tettey, starting on Saturday against West Brom. DB
No change from Hughton
Our back five is now the same back five since the Chris Hughton days, and there is little threat or competition for any of the five. Ryan Bennett, Andre Wisdom and Declan Rudd are the only viable options, and I really doubt they are any better than what we have.
So what is the solution? There isn’t one for two and a half months. It’s like worrying if Argos will return that dodgy Christmas present you bought. You know, that Toaster that makes the bread looks like Walt from Breaking Bad. You can quote the Sales of Goods Act 198… Actually, what the!? It just hit me! Fucking 6-2. We lost 6-2! Ugh. JR
Embarrassment is back
It’s been a long while since a defeat has felt this bad.
Like the morning back to work following a Christmas party in which you've tried to cop off with the boss, told everyone about your weird third nipple, shown everyone your weird third nipple and thought a sex toy as a Secret Santa would be a brilliant idea, it’s hard to shake the feeling that everyone is laughing and pointing at Norwich today.
If you get hammered in the Championship the wider world really doesn’t care. But when it happens in the Premier League you’re being laughed at on BBC, on Sky Sports and even in news bulletins.
Everyone looking forward to the Etihad in a couple of weeks? DB
Martin’s ability needs to match his attitude
Russell Martin’s attitude off the pitch seems to keep him firmly on it. He is a legend, and I’ve been told by too many people what a compassionate man he is off the pitch. This makes me grateful he is at our club, but should he be in the team? Sure his goal/baby combo at Liverpool will be remembered, but he is a defender. I want him to be remembered for the third clean sheet in a row, or the last-minute clearance off the line that keeps the score at 1-0 to us.
He is the captain and part of the fabric of what makes me love the club, but he really is too hot and cold to be the first name on the team sheet. JR
Ruddy is not an England goalkeeper
Can we all finally agree that Ruddy is not the third best English goalkeeper? There’s a reason that Roy Hodgson doesn’t pick Ruddy in his England squads, and it’s nothing to do with Norwich being a small team. It’s because Ruddy hasn’t been a commanding presence ever since he underwent surgery in 2012 and was forced to miss five months of the season.
Before that he’d been a major part of Norwich’s 10-game unbeaten run (how weird was that, by the way), but he’s never really been the same since. Less agile, less confident and less able to pull off the kind of outstanding saves he once seemed to make every match, he’s gone from matchwinner to merely average. It can’t be easy playing behind that back four, but these days Ruddy is costing Norwich as many points as he saves them. Not saving any of the six shots on target might be his lowest point in a Norwich shirt. DB
It isn’t all doom and gloom
Norwich are still good going forward. For 15 minutes after half-time we were completely dominant, moving the ball about intelligently, elegantly and incisively. It felt like an equaliser was coming, which made Alex Neil’s decision to throw caution to the wind in search of a goal and take off Tettey even more baffling.
Dieumerci Mbokani was mobile and imposing, linked up play nicely and took his chance intuitively – he looks like a good signing. We also hit the post twice and conceded from every shot on target, which some would consider unfortunate. West Brom may be facing a real backlash. DB
Newcastle blessed in attack
No team with Georginio Wijnaldum, Ayoze Perez and Mousa Sissoko should be anywhere near the bottom of the Premier League. It’s a testament to the awfulness of their defence that this was Newcastle’s first win of the season, as both Wijnaldum and Perez would have major roles to play for any top-six side. Don’t rule out January moves for both players, which may be the only thing that keeps Newcastle from pulling themselves away from the relegation zone. DB