It’s a long time since I’ve been to Norwich and I keep thinking I must fit in a game there. I’m glad I didn’t do it this season, however, although if Pete Sixsmith is correct it may be a while before I’ll feel the need to get that train again. Here’s his account of another depressing day:
It’s a game I look for on the fixture list. It’s a different journey along the A17 and A47 and there are towns to see from a distance, mostly pleasant ones like Newark and Sleaford and Kings Lynn. Norwich itself is a gem, lots of nooks and crannies, a church for every week of the year and some great pubs. Carrow Road is a tidy stadium, bedecked in green and yellow and the Canaries fans are friendly and never seem threatening. What’s not to like about a day in Norwich?
I won’t be making the journey next season, of that I am sure.
It could be because I am finding it harder to justify coughing in excess of £70 up for a football match and spending the best part of 12 hours on a coach. It could be because I find long days like these very tiring and that it takes me the whole of the next day to recover.
Or it could be that, based on this pathetic performance, we have as much chance of staying in the Premier League as Vladimir Putin has of being asked to be Chair of the “I Love Ukraine” Society.
This was a performance as limp and as flaccid as anything produced by the teams turned out by the reviled Steve Bruce and the pitied Martin O’Neill. Come to think of it, both managers were, in my eyes, found out at Carrow Road, where we have now been well beaten for the last three seasons. Gus Poyet now joins those two as yet another Sunderland manager who seems incapable of stopping the inexorable slide into the Championship.
After last week’s awful performance against Palace, all the noises coming from Poyet were of how playing away might help us in that we can utilise the space that an attacking home team might leave. And I fell for it. I believed it. I travelled in hope that tactically we could out think Chris Hughton and that the players we had were better than the ones that Norwich had. Frustrate them from the start and the crowd, not great fans of Hughton and his style of play, might get tetchy and start grumbling and eventually turn on their manager.
Ha! They seized the initiative from the kick off, their midfield four totally dominating the five that we started with. With Colback and Ki virtually onlookers, pressure was put on the creaking partnership of Brown and O’Shea and creak they duly did.
Norwich could have been ahead before Brown made a hash of a clearance and Snodgrass poked in after twenty and then, after four failed attempts to clear the ball, Tettey hit a wonderful strike to win the game for the Canaries. The game was over. Our midfield (with Ki and Colback replaced by Cattermole and Larsson) continued to be ineffective and we were woeful up front, with Altidore comfortably winning his battle with van Wolfswinkel to decide who is the most ineffective striker in the Premier League. That v.W missed an absolute sitter shows exactly how poor Jozy was.
The second half passed by slowly. Ruddy made one good save, but we were out of puff by 75 minutes and City came back strongly to dominate the final quarter. Alonso got himself into a running spat with Snodgrass and was eventually sent off. Snodgrass’s experience in the Scottish leagues with Livingstone and Leeds served him in good stead here. Not that I saw it – I was walking back to the coach having decided that 88 minutes of this rubbish was 88 minutes too much.
Three lads in front of me left at half time, including one who had clearly made a healthy contribution to Wetherspoons profits. His early enthusiasm soon turned into a diatribe against the team and Altidore in particular, before he resorted to using the word “Please” to encourage our team, as in “Ha’way Sunderland, please do something, please, please, please.” It didn’t work. Neither did the team.
Where do we go now? This was the one away fixture that I thought we had a chance in. The remaining trips are to places where we would expect to be soundly beaten, starting at Anfield on Wednesday night.
What kind of team can we pick for the rest of the campaign? Opposing managers will look at a creaking defence, a midfield that creates nothing and strikers who don’t score and know that their team can take at least a point off us. It is looking like yet another relegation and with that yet another clean out and start again, perhaps beginning with the owner who must be heartily sick of pouring money into a club that seems to be perpetual strugglers.
On Wednesday, we have to start without Borini and Alonso, who have been two of our better players this season. We will have to continue with the completely ineffective Altidore up front, a player who now has absolutely no confidence or self believe. I noticed that Mikael Mandron was back from Fleetwood. Surely he can offer more than the hapless American?
The journey back took an hour longer due to the A1 being closed as a result of two separate incidents. It was made bearable by listening to 4Extra’s three hour tribute to Viv Stanshall, founder of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and all round genuine English eccentric. I could have listened to that in my kitchen chair, £70.00 better off and in a much better frame of mind. Maybe I will next season – it’s a long way back from Bournemouth, Ipswich and Brighton.
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