I bumped into a work colleague of my wife outside the ticket office on Sunday lunchtime, as we were heading into the ground and we stopped for a quick chat.
He asked us what we thought would happen and I told him that I expected a win and felt we should be able to turn Sunderland over.
However, 24 hours later and I’m left wondering where it all went wrong?
The basics are that we didn’t score, other than an own goal that Lewis Grabban was credited with but later denied he got the last touch on. It matters not.
Sunderland were without the ball for over 70% of the time it was in play during the game and yet still managed to score three goals. Two of those goals though were as a result of very poor, what should’ve been, rudimentary defending from Marcel Franke.
We all know that having more possession doesn’t mean that you win the game by default, you have to do something with that possession and turn your dominance with the ball into goals.
I’ve seen Daniel Farke’s Norwich City twice now, Swindon and Sunderland at home and the same issues cropped up in both games.
I don’t mind the possession based game at all and clearly, if you don’t have the ball, the situation mid-game is tougher than if you have it. What City failed to do was achieve enough threat to Jason Steele’s goal.
Just like against Swindon, the first shot that Norwich had on target didn’t come until the 20th minute. Before that, there was lots of back and forth and sideways passing but it wasn’t quick enough to open up or stretch Sunderland.
The Black Cats don’t look like world beaters in this league (at the moment) and that’s not just sour grapes. They were totally dominated by Norwich but stood firm defensively.
As the game wore on there were grumbles around me at the home side’s inability to find a killer ball. The problem was that Sunderland retreated deep and usually had 9 and sometimes 10 men behind the ball.
It’s something that Brighton did against Manchester City at the weekend and it kept them out until the 70th minute when the opposition’s superior ball players eventually made a goal.
The difference for Norwich is that they didn’t stretch Sunderland, meaning that the Black Cats were comfortable without the ball.
Browning and Kone easily dealt with Jerome and Watkins with the former Barnsley man being eased off the ball too easily for my liking. Browning won more aerial battles than Jerome, making Cam look pretty ineffective.
In the centre, Cattermole and Ndong were outnumbered 2-3 but still prevented many breakthroughs in the middle. Speaking of the middle, why do our central midfield players persist with trying to drive through the middle of the field more often than they look to the flanks?
Too often, the ball wasn’t played wide when Husband or Wildschut would’ve been the best option. It was the same against Swindon and I don’t get it.
The other problem was not shooting often enough and that, I suppose, is down to not moving the ball quickly enough and stretching the opposition.
In terms of the goals conceded the second one was a cracker after Martin’s headed clearance fell to Cattermole. Wisely, he gave the ball to someone who can shoot and hey presto.
My biggest worries were over the first and second goals though.
Franke was at fault for both and the first was arguably the worst. A goal kick was punted down field and James Vaughan (5’11’) beat Franke (6’4′) to the header and flicked it on to Grabban, who could hardly miss. That just simply shouldn’t have happened.
Franke’s second howler came when he was shrugged away by Grabban, who then had a free header past Gunn.
Now, both Franke and his partner in the centre, Christoph Zimmermann, are well over 6 foot tall and both are athletically built, strong lads. They have all the attributes to deal with the physicality of the Championship, so they need to toughen up quickly.
I don’t expect there will be any knee jerk reactions to this defeat and indeed, Stuart Webber has previously said that the club needs to have a ‘way of playing’ a style that is recognised as being the way that Norwich play and that we need to stick with it.
Daniel Farke will be keen to get his first win but he will also trust his methods and tactics. He has had success with them previously, albeit at a lower level in Germany, and he won’t be dissuaded after three competitive games.
This is going to take some time folks and we are just going to have to be patient. The booing at the end of the Sunderland game was ridiculous but I suppose if you pay your money, you can boo if you want to. I would prefer it if we all supported the team because I didn’t see anyone not trying on Sunday, did you?
On a positive note, we have another game in quick time on Wednesday night against QPR. They will have watched us lose to Sunderland and may well decide to adopt similar tactics to the Black Cats.
If they do, we will need to be quicker in the build up if we are to stretch them enough to get the number of shots up.
Norwich City are clearly a work in progress.