Norwich City travelled to the Stadium of Light to face a Sunderland side that were shambolic against Leicester last week and I think we all expected some sort of backlash. Some sort of response, that’s the least the Sunderland fans and Dick Advocaat would have expected.
After last week, the BBC’s Guy Mowbray said that Norwich were ‘desperately unlucky’ against Palace while describing Sunderland as just ‘desperate.’
Alex Neil made two changes to the side with Redmond and Jerome replacing Johnson and Grabban, who both dropped to the bench.
The story of the game was a lack of urgency and effort from the Sunderland players, incredible though that sounds.
Norwich carried on where they left off against Palace, working hard for each other and closing down when not in possession. Sunderland created very little with Brady and Hoolahan having two early chances before City won a corner in the 25th minute.
Another example of Sunderland’s lack of effort saw Brady take the corner short to Redmond with only one opposition player in attendance. They passed past him and Brady fired a decent shot in from the edge of the area. Pantillimon could only parry straight to Russell Martin and the ball struck him on the left shin and went in.
Fortuitous but City never looked back.
Norwich continued to make the running much to the discord of the home fans. City scored a great second on 37 minutes when Redmond received the ball on the left and ran along the edge of the Sunderland box before playing a ball to Whittaker, who had moved forwards on the right.
Whittaker played a one two with Hoolahan and received the ball back from Hoolahan via a delicious back flick. The full back simply ran past Kaboul and fired a low shot across Pantillimon and into the far corner. Two nil and some of the crowd started to leave.
Just before half time, another good piece of play saw Jerome fire over from inside the Sunderland area as he was leaning back under pressure. It was only just over and had it gone in, I think you’d have seen a mass walk about by the home fans but now the booing started.
It was a mutinous atmosphere in only the second game of the season – fans will put up with a lot but they will not put up with a lack of effort and that summed up poor Sunderland.
The game was put to bed in the 57th minute when Dorrans won a throw deep in the Black Cats’ half. He took it quickly to Redmond and van Aanholt inexplicably just let it happen, making no attempt to close down ‘the most dangerous man on the pitch’ according to Ian Wright.
Redmond played a one-two with Hoolahan, who again played a killer pass and Redmond slotted a neat first time finish into the net at the near post.
Now came the mass exodus from the stands by the home side.
By the time young Duncan Watmore (a sub for Fletcher) shinned in a consolation in the 88th minute, the ground was mostly empty with only a comparative handful behind John Ruddy’s goal to celebrate it.
This was an excellent away performance and a welcome three points.
Yes, Sunderland were terrible but that shouldn’t take anything away from a professional, hardworking effort from a City side that showed desire, work rate and a snap in attack that should serve them well in the coming months.
Add a little more quality to this group and we really will have something.
Just as a little aside, Alex Neil is unbeaten as Norwich manager away from home since joining last January – that fact never looked like being in danger here. Oh, and we were first on Match Of The Day too!