A bridge too far, Smash and grab, a Ram Raid?
Certainly it looked like a game too far when Sam Winnall poked home the winner at Carrow Road yesterday.
The way that City played the game reminded me of those early season matches that involved plenty of possession but build up play was too slow. More than once, I saw Timm Klose make “speed it up” gestures with his hands as he was waiting for a ball to roll gently to him, rather than with a bit of fizz.
The build up was not quick enough and yet again, Cameron Jerome was almost a passenger up top. Not necessarily his fault because it`s not as though he missed any great opportunities, is it? He was up against two strong, wily central defenders in the shape Curtis Davies and Richard Keogh and barely won a header all afternoon.
Yes, his work rate is an asset but his job surely has to be to score goals, hasn`t it?
I can only recall him having one snap shot from the edge of the area that went over late on. Other than that he made a good run down the right and put a nice cross across the six yard box but there was no-one there because the striker was putting the ball in.
In recent weeks, since Nelson Oliveira has only been a bit part player due to injuries, Cam has been given a big work load, especially with Marley Watkins suspended for the previous three games. Yes, I`m sure he would play with only one leg (quote Daniel Farke) but something needs to change in our formation/tactics.
The chances being created seem to be falling to either defenders or midfielders and luckily, they have generally been taking one or two of them. Marco Stiepermann must wonder what he has to do to score but he will know he should`ve scored in the first half against Derby. It was the same against Bristol City when he inexplicably missed the goal from close range in a similar situation. Keep going though, Marco, it`ll come.
Getting back to Jerome, he has been a good servant to the club but without chances being created for him, he isn`t going to score. Nelson has that valuable capacity to make things happen on his own. A twist, a clever turn and he creates space for a shot. Cam doesn`t have that in his locker, he needs service.
In terms of our attacking trio behind him yesterday, I don`t` think any of them had a good game. Wes Hoolahan had his worst game in a City shirt in living memory (maybe). His passing radar was off and he gave the ball away quite a lot, something we`re just not used to seeing. A bloke somewhere behind me shouted “GET OFF, YOU`RE USELESS” after one misplaced pass, which I thought was more than harsh.
Several knee jerk Twitter users wrote “Wes is finished” or words to that effect. One bad game, one bad game, Have a word with yourselves.
James Maddison`s game was also below the level he has set for himself of late and then we had Josh Murphy.
Josh was weak on the ball and easily knocked off it. His big moment came when he was brought down by a tackle from behind by Scott Carson, after he`d beat the Derby keeper on the bye line. I`ve looked at this on replay several times and it was a stonewall penalty. Yes, Carson made a tackle from behind and got his foot on the ball to put it out for a corner but he only managed that when he put both hands on Murphy and pulled him back. It should`ve been a penalty and Carson denied a goal scoring opportunity. Yes there was a defender in the area so a red card was a debatable point but the penalty is not in doubt.
Such things games turn on and this one would certainly have turned on that moment.
Later, replacing Josh, Yanic Wildschut was full of verve and energy when he came on and made a big case for him starting on Tuesday evening.
As the game wore on and Derby scored with their first shot on target, City looked tired. A change of formation and the arrival of Oliveira helped and got City back in the game after good work by Stiepermann to lay a close range header on for Timm Klose.
The loss of Oliveira afterwards though was and is a big blow. The only luck he has at the moment is bad luck. He went down and immediately signalled he needed to come off, apparently it`s a calf injury.
I tore a calf muscle playing 5-a-side (at my age) earlier this year and the pain was excruciating. Within 14 days though, I was fine and back playing and that`s without the benefit of the Colney medical equipment. Fingers crossed he won`t be long and it isn`t too bad. I`m aware by the way that it could be a lot worse than my injury.
After equalising, I figured we were well placed to go on and win it but we actually got worse. Tired legs were evident and we never really fashioned another serviceable half chance, let alone a gold edged one.
Derby are a tough team to play and deserved the win. They got some luck with the Carson business in the first half and did what needed to be done to win the points.
It`s interesting to note that Wolves lost too, having also played 120 minutes in mid-week. They are up next on Tuesday and the only plus for us is that the match is another home game, cutting down on the travelling, unlike Wolves.
The pace is relentless but we always knew it would be.
The important thing is that we stick with the lads and get behind them. The next unbeaten run starts on Tuesday night.