It Looks Worse On Paper…
This was the match that I had most been looking forward to all season.
The visit to Carrow Road of Manchester City - their team jam packed with international players, some of whom are as good as any in their position in the world, never mind the league (in my opinion).
After Norwich`s phenomenal win at Tottenham last Monday, Paul Lambert decided that the team that had achieved the result of the season deserved a crack at Man City here. I wouldn`t argue with the manager`s thinking at all.
I was concerned that, having been out of the title race a week ago that after Man Utd`s loss at Wigan and their own four nil mauling of West Brom that Man City would be up for it.
I was also disappointed that Mario Balotelli`s sending off at Arsenal had denied me and my son the chance to see him up close - but, as I said, it`s not as if they`re short of quality players.
Norwich were badly beaten at The Etihad last December but I was pretty confident that this would be a different game - how wrong I was…
The match started with Norwich having the better of the first 15 minutes. They played with no fear and a fluidity to their passing, particularly in midfield that has become a trademark of the team in recent weeks, if not the season.
Early on the excellent Pilkington took on Zabaleta on the left.
He pushed the ball easily past Pablo and then cut back before firing a shot wide across goal.
Pilks was involved again when he looked like he impeded Joe Hart as Holt`s flick header was cleared off the line by Lescott.
Carlos Tevez felt minimal contact in the Norwich area a short time later from Ryan Bennett and theatrically fell over and the referee, Chris Foy showed him a yellow card for diving. Foy, incidentally had a very good game. He took charge when he needed to but was happy to let the game flow. One of the best Ref`s performances I`ve seen at Carrow Road this season.
But on 18 minutes Norwich fell behind to a great strike from Tevez. David Silva fed Tevez on the right and alone, he surged towards the Norwich area from an angle.
He hit a very powerful shot but it was a tightish angle and he was far enough out that I thought Ruddy would deal with it.
Yes, he hit it hard but also with serve and it sailed in, beating Ruddy at his near post.
The Man City bench erupted as Tevez fell to his knees - that`s what £250k a week will get you.
Ten minutes later, Norwich were two behind after a lovely move from the visitors that culminated in a back heel from Tevez into Aguero`s path which allowed him to strike powerfully past Ruddy from 12yds.
Norwich looked deflated but held out till half time at 2 nil.
For the rest of the half though, Man City were very, very good.
I`ve seen Silva play recently and he`s looked tired and out of sorts but not here. We could hardly get the ball off him and his movement with that of Nasri, Tevez and Aguero was very hard for the back four to handle.
Lambert responded at the start of the second half with a double substitution with Pilkington and Johnson making way for Hoolahan and Surman.
Almost immediately, Norwich looked a different prospect going forward to that which finished the first half. Hoolahan was at the heart of everything and prompted and probed before Norwich pulled a goal back on 51 minutes.
A cross into the box was met by Wilbraham whose header was flapped at by Hart.
The ball fell to Surman, who smashed it home from 10yds. As far as I was concerned, only one team was going to score next and it would be us.
For the next 20 minutes, Norwich were the better team, just as they had been at the start of the first half.
On 63 minutes, Nasri was replaced by Toure and he played terrifically well with Silva as he usually does. On 68 minutes, Lambert made his final change as Wilbraham made way for Morison, who naturally didn`t run as much as you`d like him to.
On 73 minutes the game turned as Ruddy made a save but didn`t hold it and the ball fell invitingly to Tevez who nodded the ball into the net.
It was a hammer blow and just two minutes later the score line got even worse.
guero received the ball and surged forward, shrugging off Elliot Bennett`s attempt to stop him. He hit a low shot across Ruddy and into the bottom corner, it was a tremendous finish.
1-4 and the game was done but we still had 15 minutes to go. On 80 minutes, Ryan Bennett gifted Tevez a third and his team`s fifth as he played a woefully short back pass towards Ruddy. Tevez nipped in and took it easily past Ruddy and walked towards the empty goal before casually rolling the ball into the net.
Now it was embarrassing - the self destruct button having been well and truly pressed. Norwich looked tired as Man City sensed a chance to increase their goal difference.
Before 90 minutes were on the clock both Aguero and Johnson had hit the wood work.
"You lucky ********, it should`ve been ten" sang the Man City fans.
And in injury time, Johnson duly scored a sixth for Man City and the rout was complete - here endeth the lesson.
I`ve been racking my brains but can`t remember a defeat this heavy at Carrow Road in my time watching Norwich (since 1985).
he score line was a little harsh and looks far worse on paper than the performance from Norwich justified, as the score line was at The Etihad in December. But that is Premier League football - we`ve faced the League`s best strike forces this season but today, we came up against a strike force on the very top of their game.
I can now understand how Man City defeated Man Utd by a similar score line to this.
Despite our possession and play, which would probably have beaten a lot of teams in the League, we were taught a bit of a lesson here.
Other than Surman`s goal, Holt had a few chances but they were saved or he fluffed them. In the first half he had his header blocked and Hart saved a shot on the turn.
In the second he scuffed one into the side netting and Hart saved another - it wasn`t his day.
Norwich were able to get the ball into good attacking areas but unlike Man City, we couldn`t put the ball in the net, and that`s the difference. It`s what Man City have paid the big bucks for.
No matter, this match is a write off, put it behind you and go again. That is always the manager`s mantra after a defeat. After the mauling at The Etihad, Norwich responded by beating Newcastle 4-2. If they show that level of belief again, they`ll be okay.
One thing that this has made me realise is that top of our shopping list in the summer should be a striker. I heard the usual talk about Steve Morison on Canary Call and was intrigued to hear Daryl Sutch say that offers for Morison had been turned down in January and he was disappointed at not being allowed to go.
I know he had a good first half of the season but if his head has gone down, as it seems to have done, and it`s for this reason then we should just let him go.
He must be worth at least the money we paid for him, if not more, and we could then invest that in some support for Holt.
Regular readers will be in no doubt that I am a Holt fan, but he needs some help. He has single handedly seen us through the second half of the season as a goal threat from the strikers. The others haven`t done a lot, which again highlights Holt`s importance to the team.
Jackson just isn`t consistent or effective enough at this level, James Vaughan is like the Scarlet Pimpernel for the amount of times we`ve seen him and Chris Martin has gone to Palace on loan (nice to see him score against Ipswich) and is clearly not in the manager`s thoughts.
That leaves Morison and Wilbraham who at 32 is getting on and is out of contract in the summer. He`s done well enough in his eighteen months and his winning goal against Leicester was worth his fee alone.
He might get another contract, maybe a year? But he isn`t the long term answer. What about Jordan Rhodes? He won`t be at Huddersfield next season and has a track record of scoring that is almost beyond belief. Anyway, what do I know? Other than we need some more firepower.
Next up for Norwich are Blackburn Rovers who were heavily beaten at Swansea today. It won`t be easy because they`re fighting for their lives but we won`t be facing the likes of those we did today.
Come on lads, heads up and let`s go again.
Before I go, here`s a thought for you to consider.
Norwich City paid £250k to buy Aaron Wilbraham and Manchester
City pay Carlos Tevez £250k - a week. Football is nuts isn`t it!?