Norwich vs Fulham Review – One Point Closer to Safety

Most of us have come to terms with the fact that as a club we don’t  receive an overwhelming amount of coverage from the various media outlets but upon departing Carrow Road on Saturday it would be safe to say that we all fully expected to be last on Match of the day. In fact while making my way back to the station I was struggling to imagine exactly what would have been deemed worthy of making the highlights reel and if they would even show us at all.

In a similar fashion to the game at the Etihad a few weeks back the only real attempt on goal we mustered came from Sidwell in what turned out to be a fairly routine save for Bunn in the Norwich goal. The home team didn’t exactly give Schwarzer a great deal to do either. The best chance came from the latest of their many ex Leeds United contingent when Becchio hit one first time after 10 minutes. Norwich certainly had a lot of possession but much like ourselves seemed to lack any real potency in the final third. It seemed as though the late omission of Grant Holt from the forward line had somehow disrupted the game plan although in one of the few positives to take out of the game it would be debatable how effective he would have been anyway given the form of the new and improved Philippe Senderos.

A point away from home is never something to moan about especially given our well publicised lack of ability to perform away from the Cottage. Today was a game that in recent years we would have more than likely thrown away with a scrappy goal just after half time. In the end we nearly did in the last minute when a hoof in to the box saw new Norwich signing Kei Kamara, who surprisingly has never actually played for Leeds, challenge Schwarzer only for the ball only to go well wide.

We were treated to seeing a number of our new signings from the start on Saturday mainly due to “Illness” to both Reither and Baird. Manelov started at right back and Frimpong took up a spot in the centre of Midfield. I have heard a number of sources describe Manelov as “The worst Defender in the Eredivisie” which on Saturday’s performance does seem a little harsh. He did get turned inside out for the early Becchio chance but in fairness the rest of the game he looked solid.

The prospect of seeing Bryan Ruiz after a number of transatlantic flights was somewhat worrying given that his recent form can draw many similarities to that of someone suffering from jet lag. The centre midfield has worked hard lately and any positive result has always come from the tireless running of Sidwell and Karagounis. While Frimpong did not exactly set the world alight on Saturday he didn’t make any particular mistakes and worked hard for the cause. Given a few more games hopefully he will grow in confidence and prove a valuable asset in offering cover for what is one of the weakest areas in the squad in terms of depth.

Recently we have started to look good on  the break which is in no small part down to Rodallega holding a high line and forcing Berbatov to push on in support. Today it seemed as though we had taken a few steps back, Quite literally in Berbatov’s case. Once again he was to be found loitering around the centre midfield and when receiving the ball slowed down any potential move allowing Norwich to get bodies back and inevitably prevent us from offering a threat to Bunn’s goal. Mladen Petric replaced Hugo with about 15 minutes left although I am tempted to say that that he would have been more effective if he had replaced Berbatov instead of just substituting one isolated forward for another. Ruiz to be fair was fairly consistent with his recent performances and was no worse for all the travelling. Urby was given a 25 minute cameo when he replaced Frimpong and again showed signs that he could be a decent acquisition but whether or not he will achieve that potential in the short time that he is with us is debatable.

While Saturday’s fixture saw the reverse of our first game of the season, no one was expecting another goal glut but Norwich were certainly there for the taking. Despite another sub par performance had we fashioned a few more chances it was not unforeseeable to think we could have been returning home with all 3 points. We need four more victories to reach that 40 point mark and if we were going to add to our away points haul then today was probably as good a chance as any. We now have a couple of weeks to prepare for what is essentially a must win game at home to Stoke where the new Hangeland-Senderos partnership will likely face their toughest challenge yet. The only way our new signings are going to be effective is with game time so it is debatable whether much will have changed in that department in the space of a fortnight.  Lets not forget that in recent years our best performances have been built on a solid back four and the sooner we find some consistency in our choice of defenders the better. We can only hope that Jol can come up with a solution to the lack of potency going forward and somehow convince Dimitar that despite our lack of depth in Midfield we do not need him to fill in.

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