Things we sort of learned - Derby (h)

Expectations were lower than a limbo bar ahead of in-form Derby’s visit to CR, with many expecting Alex Neil’s last game. BUT GUESS WHAT? WE DID A WIN! Jon Rogers and Richard Jeffery saw all-round excellence with their own eyes.

“Lord Admiral” Nelson “Basil D’” Oliveira
A perfect hat-trick, left foot, header, right foot. 

The first a perfectly placed, powerful left-foot drive, sailing through the defenders’ legs and giving Carson no time to react.

The second an almost instinctive header from a fast-arriving flick-on, right into the side netting. Unstoppable.

The third, he had ages to think about it as it looped up and bounced towards him. He decided to take it on his weakest foot, first time. He watched it all the way and didn’t snatch at the shot as it can be easy to do. The connection was perfect, into a crowded 6 yard box and too much for Carson as he could only deviate it from its line into the net.

Apart from that, our Nelson ran, battled, flicked, linked and looks the real deal.

Admiral Lord Nelson said “I am a Norfolk man, and glory in being so.” Well, this Nelson is well on his way to being an adopted Norfolk man, and at the moment is glorying in being so. RJ

Apart from a few towering headers and a few switching, sweeping balls to the wings, Bradley Johnson’s performance didn’t let Norwich down. Suggestion: The Premier League Bradders, he of the lack of pace and heavy first touch, returned to Carrow Road on Monday.

He found his niche at City and two seasons ago he gave us, and him, the best year of football he’ll probably ever have. On the left, his imposing torment of the opposition right-back and their back post, combined with his tattoos and haircut, reminded me of an angry pirate. In the middle, Wes and Howson’s pace and cunning made him look like he had a wooden leg.  

He deserved that burst of song from the Barclay, but only a burst. JR

One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch
Really? Well. Derby, who came into the game on a fantastic run of form, weren’t a team who weren’t up for it, à la Aston Villa or stood off us and watched, like Brentford (our only two wins in the previous 12 league games). It may have been a wary start, but after 10 minutes we had the measure of them and bossed the game. It was an example of what can happen when everyone gives their all for the whole game, refuses to give up and we consequently played like an actual team for the first time in simply ages. It’s surely the bare minimum.

No names, no pack drill. But don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out. RJ

Wes. Wes, Wes, Wes, Wes, Wes. Wes. Weslington, Wessle, Wessi. Good King Wesceslas. 

He ran the game, Derby couldn’t pick him up, he was at his absolute best and it beggars belief that he’s been out in the cold for so long. Some of the passes he played were so sublime, nobody else could have conceived of them, let alone made them. One dummy in the first half was made before he received the ball and, without a single touch the hapless-and-lucky-to-be-on-the-same-pitch-as-Wes Derby player was sent the wrong way and our hero was allowed to press forward.

Butterfield’s red card was borne long ago as he had once gazed upon Wes’ mighty works in training and despaired. The utter frustration of not being Wes forced him into that challenge. Clear red card incidentally, no argument can be had.

Apart from him making us win games, Wes’ career cannot go on forever and I want to see him as much as possible, so play him all of the time please (certainly at home).

On the theme of picking your best players, coincidentally picking our best two centre halves made our defence looked decent.

Who knew? RJ

Dirty Murphy
Ja. Murphy v1.0 had a raw talent that you can’t teach. Pace, arrogance on the pitch, a mind’s eye for the spectacular and the ability to make it reality. What Alex Neil has installed into Ja. Murphy v1.2 is the dirty stuff, the stuff Alex Neil was so good at. Tracking-back, keeping possession with simple passing, stopping crosses coming in, supporting the full-back, winning the ugly headers. 

That upgrade has made him into a much better player.  It’s why Pritchard isn’t playing. It’s why Canos isn’t playing. And it’s why his brother hasn’t got a new contract.  A grafter willing to do the dirty with the ability to twonk it into the top corner has a much better chance of signing on the dotted line. Can’t wait for v2.0. However, if reports are true, he might be in the red of Liverpool by then. JR