Nottingham Forest 1 Norwich 2 - A comeback win, with a goal from corner AND a penalty. A good win at a tricky place. Luckily Seb Ward was there to see it with his own eyes and talks abs, abs and more abs.
We CAN turn games around
I’ve questioned Alex Neil’s ability to change things when they’re not going his way. I’ve questioned whether he has a plan B. I’ve even considered the theory that he has no idea what he’s doing. On Saturday, he proved he does have that ability to inspire, to lift a team, to get another twenty per cent. The players themselves also showed both determination and desire. Nine points from nine cannot be faulted. We’re back on track.
F-ab-ulous dressing room
The last time we had a dressing room picture was after the play-offs final at Wembley. Klose has started the trend a good forty games earlier, so I can’t wait for what’s in store if we actually win something. Alex Neil doing the David Brent dance? A naked calendar? 3D printed full-size versions of Klose for sale in the Canary Store?
The picture highlights a lot of things. Murphy’s Calvin Klein body, Robbie Brady’s impressively pale complexion, and Ryan Bennett, letting the side down even when he’s not playing with tummy rolls. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that it’s because he’s sitting down. Although, it does look like he’s pushed Pritchard in the corner, and we know he likes pushing people who are smaller than him into places they shouldn’t be.
Beyond the toned tums and chiseled chests, the photo shows the superb team spirit. That is as valuable as ability for any club seeking promotion. Cast aside the doubts you may have had about Olsson, Klose or whoever: possible promotion means as much to them, as it does to us, and such commitment will go a long way this season.
Get by with little help from his friends
We don’t need a really expensive striker. There. I said it. Does it matter where the goals are coming from as long as they are coming? No. And at the moment they are definitely coming. Although an debut of Aloe Vera (as I expect to hear him called on CanaryCall before long) wouldn’t go amiss.
Loan deals are a good idea
It was another game and another sparkling performance from Jacob Murphy. This is becoming something of a pattern. Perhaps even the norm; one which City fans are happy to get used to. The young winger is buzzing with confidence like a kid whose just received a new pair of trainers for Christmas, and he can’t wait to show his friends the lights in the heels as he runs and jumps and spins. We’re all watching on — proud —almost parental — delighted to see him developing into a beautiful butterfly from his Youth Cup cocoon. Long may it continue.
And this is where praise must go to the Norwich City staff. At first it was all moan, moan, moan for the loan, loan, loan. Yet now those departures are proving astute piece of business, allowing the Murphy twins to mature at their level, at their pace. A snapchat scandal and a season of football later and it’s all paying dividend. Notable too was Thompson’s late insertion against Forest perhaps marking the real beginning of his Norwich career. His torso wasn’t out of place in the dressing room; maybe his football ability isn’t either.
So let’s trust that our Founding Father Alexander Hamilton knows what he’s doing with James Maddison. If he returns in the same way — that being a matured, bulked-up, experienced version of his current self — then I’m all for it. So far our big summer signing of Pritchard has been kept on the sidelines by Hoolahan. Maddison would have found himself behind both.
The defence still needs tightening up
Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop. The goals are leaking. So far all we’ve done is place a bucket underneath that leak. We know the leak’s there, but we’re not ready to deal with the problem just yet. It’s easy to ignore when you’re winning. Convenient, even. We’ll wait for that bucket to fill up then bail it out and place it beneath the would-be puddle once more. Drip. Drop.
Call the plumber in, because that defence needs patching up for the long term. Tweaking at the least. We need to make clean sheets a habit once more, as we can’t always rely on scoring two or three goals every game. I’m being a perfectionist, yes, but it’s true that we’ve played all of the current bottom three and are yet to face many of the tougher sides in this division where such defensive frailties will be really put to the test.
Naismith not missed
Is it a coincidence that our last three games, which have all been wins, have come while Steven Naismith has been out of the team? I think not. Between the sulks and the sighs, the whimpers and the woes, is a good footballer. But a good footballer in another manager’s team. His playing style contradicts much of what I imagine Alex Neil is trying to achieve. The rise of Jacob Murphy highlights this even further.
Murphy: A direct player with pace and skill, eager to impress, unfazed when it comes to taking players on.
Naismith: A player who likes to receive the ball with his back to goal, and while he can offer some useful linkup play, is often prone to slowing moves. He’s not blessed with pace or skill, and Jacob has proven that experience is not key either.
What is perhaps most frustrating is that doesn’t easily fit into any given system, or at least not Alex’s. He’s caught in the void that is being neither an out-and-out winger, striker or playmaker. It’s difficult to see how he warrants any inclusion in the first eleven upon his return.
Seb Ward tweets at @Seb_Ward