“Never give a sucker an even break” goes the saying and it sure feels like that at the moment for Norwich City.
The Canaries literally don`t seem able to get a break, with their winless run now extended to eight games. Like you need telling, but that`s certain relegation form and I have to say we`re certainly in the box seat for the drop after that run. Having said that, there are two places left really, assuming that Villa are already done for, and it looks likely to be between Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich in a mini league.
Both the North East teams have to come to Carrow Road and all three of us are in wretched form, especially away from home turf. The season so far for Norwich has been in fits and starts but too many opportunities have slipped through our fingers. We`ve dropped 4 points against West ham alone, then there was the home game against Stoke, Palace on the opening day, Liverpool at home and the list goes on and on.
I know it`s “would`ve, could`ve should`ve” but had we got those four points against West Ham, two more from Stoke and three against Liverpool then we would have 33 points now, which would put us 13th above Crystal Palace and almost safe. Too many times, we have dropped points and that`s what`s cost us. The lack of a real cutting edge has also cost us and with just Mbokani, Jerome and on-loan Bamford as striker options, we seem to have no-one who can put the ball in the net.
Cameron Jerome is not good enough for the Premier league but almost too good for the Championship. His inexplicable inability to convert simple chances like the header against Leicester from six yards and when he smashed the ball high over the bar with Tim Howard nowhere in the game against Everton, are hard to explain when he scored all those goals last season. I remember Steve Morison commenting on the drastically reduced number of chances he got in the Premier league compared to the Championship and the need to make sure you convert those chances when they come. That still holds true now and Jerome has struggled.
Dieumerci Mbokani is, in my opinion, a better finisher but that`s not saying much as he too has struggled in front of goal. Patrick Bamford is a different type of player to both of our other strikers but he hasn`t been trusted with a start yet. He came to Norwich for game time after a poor experience at Palace. The way things are going, he could have another bad experience here. He can`t play against Chelsea because they are his parent club but I`d like to think we`ll see a lot more of him very soon. I haven`t even mentioned Kyle Lafferty because he`s apparently invisible and in any case, he`s not the answer.
The performance against Leicester was generally very good and the use of three central defenders and Brady and Pinto as wing backs seemed to work. We seem to have the personnel to play it and let`s be honest. Alex Neil has needed to come up with some sort of tactical change to try to get some more points on the board. That same system could work against Chelsea but the same effort the lads showed at Leicester, not to mention determination, will be needed to get anything out of Chelsea.
After that is a match at Swansea that the Swans will have targeted as a “must win” game. Swansea are tantalisingly close for all those below them but seem capable to me of putting a run together. It`s then Man City at home before a run of games that will shape our destiny. West Brom, Newcastle, Palace, Sunderland and then Watford will be the run of matches that will determine where we play our football next season.
You never know, Bamford might start a game by then.