Neil Adams made just one change to the side that lost valiantly, 2-3 to Liverpool last week, with Ricky van Wolfswinkel replacing Gary Hooper as the lone striker.
A few people questioned this on twitter before hand but I can see the logic. Although he hasn’t scored as many goals as Hooper, his work rate is much higher and Hooper didn’t exactly do much other than score, last Sunday.
The game was typically overshadowed by the national media’s obsession with Manchester United and in everything from Football Focus to the live Sky commentary, Norwich were given just a foot note.
The reaction to David Moyes’ sacking could’ve gone one of two ways but by replacing Moyes with Ryan Giggs, the United board gave themselves every chance of galvanising the dressing room for the season’s finish.
And that’s exactly what happened. City were generally tigerish in their defence of the 0-0 score line for most of the first half. They got a bit of luck when they needed it and United were clearly not at the races in the first period.
Danny Welbeck’s near post drive that was well saved by Ruddy was as close as they came, up until the 40th minute anyway.
Offensively, City offered very little, with Robert Snodgrass looking the most likely to make something happen. Ricky ran about a lot but saw very little of the ball and on the one occasion he broke with the ball, he couldn’t make anything happen and he was lacking support anyway.
The game was effectively done in the 40 the minute when Phil Jones received the ball on the right side of the City area. He hit a low, fluffed cross into a crowd of players and there looked to be little danger.
Incredibly, the ball went past Turner, who got little contact but should’ve cleared, through Fer’s legs, past Martin and onto Welbeck at the far post. Whittaker’s tug at the United man’s shirt was enough to pull him down and Lee Probart pointed to the spot.
Wayne Rooney smashed the penalty kick past JR and City went in at one nil down.
The second half would need a response from City and we would now have to score, simple as that.
But as so often this season, City’s defence failed to close down an opponent and Rooney scored from 25 yards, slipping as he did so. You’d think that they would’ve learnt from allowing Sterling so much space last week.
Desperately, the clock read just 48 minutes and it was now two nil. It was a hammer blow to City’s season and I suspect, also to Neil Adams’ chances of getting the manager’s job.
In response to this, Adams took RvW off on 57 minutes and replaced him with Elmander, like for like. Cue lots of head shaking from the City faithful and Ricky himself. It was a curious decision,I have to say. If you need a goal or two, Elmander will not get it for you, Neil.
On the hour mark, Welbeck was replaced by Mata and the Spaniard took just three minutes to score past Ruddy with a neat volley from a Jones cross, just six yards out. This was just moments after Ruddy had denied Rooney a hat trick with another very good save, he made a few here today.
Norwich finally capitulated on 73 minutes when Mata got a touch to Valencia’s cross/shot to make it 4-0. Despite that though, City had a couple of good chances when Elmander fired wide and then Olsson’s deflected shot hit the crossbar.
Hooper replaced Redmond and Fer was replaced by Tettey – changes that didn’t do an awful lot.
Really, it should’ve been five nil, when Hernandez missed a one on one with Ruddy in injury time as City looked broken and the enormity of the tasks remaining came flooding over them.
Afterwards, Neil Adams bemoaned the award of a ‘soft’ penalty that changed the game but the truth is that we were nowhere near good enough on the day. I am struggling to remain positive now, despite my wife’s protestations that ‘it’s not over till it’s over’ and I am finally looking at the likely reality of Championship football.
But, as my wife has said, we can’t give up hope just yet. There is still everything to play for, despite the Premiership giants that stand in our way.
Sunderland managed to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and I do think we are a better team than the Black Cats but we are currently in a tail spin after a fifth loss in a row.
Neil Adams will need to lift the players after this thumping and we have to hope for some sort of miracle as Sunderland are beating Cardiff, 2-0 as I write this.