Date: 18th March 2019 at 9:06am
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Norwich City beat Rotherham United 2-1 at the weekend in a tough game at the New York Stadium.

If you aren’t a Norwich or a Rotherham fan and just clocked the result, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a simple win for the team at the top of the table over a team in the bottom three.

The story of the game was a whole lot different to that though.

It was tight, with City having to dig in on a cold, wet and blustery day in Yorkshire, against a team fighting for their lives who’s main game plan was to aerially bombard the City box, looking for Michael Smith.

The general consensus amongst the Rotherham fans was that Norwich were a bunch of southern softies, who could be put off their stride by being roughed up and to be fair, that tactic has worked on plenty of technically proficient teams in the past. It’s just that the Canaries are not soft underneath, they’re actually pretty resilient.

Throughout the season, we have come up against teams that don’t have such good ball players as us – don’t get salty, you Millers, it’s a fact. Being overly physical is actually a perfectly valid tactic against better opposition than you and one that is used by teams up and down the country in all leagues, every weekend.

I get it, you have to level the playing field somehow and have seen Norwich teams attempt it over the years. “Win your personal battles” and all that.

Rotherham gave us a good game at Carrow Road and they did the same on Saturday. Paul Warne, clearly knows how to set his team up and if they play the same way in their last eight games then they stand a decent shout of staying up and I hope they do.

Warniola is a son of Norfolk and a Norwich fan, so come on you Millers.

What did make me chuckle over the weekend, was the amount of outrage at our perceived “cheating” during the game. Apparently we were rolling around and throwing ourselves on the floor for no reason.

The EDP’s Michael Bailey is someone that I know personally and I can tell you, if you didn’t already know, that he is a lovely chap who knows his football onions. He is also fair and measured in his comments about the games he watches. Here’s his take on it from his column in today’s EDP:

“Most of us who follow Norwich home and away in the press – some of us well-seasoned – will tell you it was quite the experience in the New York Stadium press box.

Close proximity to home fans usually makes life interesting, but Saturday was on another level as Millers supporters took great offence at the sort of antics Sheffield United and Leeds fans also take umbrage with – unless they’re the ones doing it.

There must be something in the Yorkshire water.

The curious juxtaposition to Rotherham’s sensitivities over City’s perceived softness, was the clear intention to rough them up a little. No surprises there, and an entirely plausible attempt at trying to get a point or three. Therefore City wanted to protect themselves, while referee Oliver Langford gave some he should have ignored, and left others that needed a whistle – for both sides.

Rotherham were excellent. If they can repeat it eight times they will stay up – and with that Paul Warne would get huge credit.”

Social media was full of salty Rotherham fans after the game who were incensed at the dark arts used by Daniel Farke to manage the game and see it out. Three substitutes, one after another at the end of the game just about finished the Millers faithful off.

As Michael points out though, these tactics are perfectly acceptable if the shoe is on the other foot.

Here’s a flavour of the Rotherham reaction…

See what I mean?

There is always banter between fans on Twitter after a game and sometimes you can get the measure of a fan base by the general consensus of their tweets.

For example, after beating Forest 2-1 away, their fans generally said a lot of complimentary things about City. Leeds and Sheffield United have come across as being very bitter and Rotherham have joined their ranks.

The bottom line here is that Norwich now understand game management, something we didn’t used to know much about. Every team does it to a greater or lesser extent but their fans moan when they’re on the wrong end of it. Game management has become a crucial, part of the game and it is in every club’s arsenal to a greater or lesser extent.

These facts from Michael Bailey say it all:

“Once again, three subs in three injury-time minutes pushed the home fans back over the edge. Never had they seen such gamesmanship.

That discipline from the dugout is generally reflected out on the pitch – in terms of sticking to their roles, plan, shape, belief and goal. And that includes cards.

Only six sides have earned more bookings than City’s 68 – yet it’s hard to remember a single bad tackle. Tactical fouls, shared around. The 10-booking amnesty passed with the Hull game. It’s now 15 before the season ends. Max Aarons currently leads City’s booking chart, on eight.

And Norwich are the only Championship side without a red card all season. Disciplined indeed.”

You can read Michael Bailey’s full column here and you can read full match reports and fan verdicts at Vital Norwich here.


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