Rolled over by Rovers
Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers have had very contrasting seasons. While Norwich have retained the momentum of promotion coupled with a stable team and management/board, Blackburn have quite the opposite.
Steve Kean has been roundly booed and abused virtually since he replaced Sam Alladyce. The results on the pitch have been poor and some of their performances have been woeful.
Chris Samba wanted out and duly left in January after virtually refusing to play. Gael Givet did the same last week. Apparently "his head wasn`t right."
The owners, Venkys are also disapproved of. Regular chants of "Kean out" and "Venkys out" remind me of the bad old days at Norwich at the end of the reign of Robert Chase - the difference obviously being that we did actually enjoy success under Chase`s regime.
What Blackburn would`ve given for a season like we have had this term.
Steve Kean apparently told his players, "No matter what it takes, we have to win." This then, would always be a tough trip up north, although Paul Lambert will have been expecting a reaction to last week`s mauling by Manchester City.
City started the brighter and had quite a period of sustained pressure where Blackburn had to hang on a little. Holt had a shot blocked and saw a header go wide, but that was about as good as it got for the Norwich Captain.
The biggest surprise about this team selection, was the return and indeed, first start for James Vaughan.
He has been restricted to just four substitute appearances and no goals - he`s been out for so long that I`d almost forgotten that he was in our squad. He showed a little promise in the first half and won a few headers but mis-kicked his only real opportunity while being closed down by Givet, having seemingly got his head in the right place.
Yakubu and Hoillet have been Rovers` biggest goal threats this season and without the Yak especially, they would surely already be doomed.
Here, the Yak continued to show why he`s a goal threat.
He hit the post with an improvised overhead kick that seemed to come off two feet, most unusual in the technique, and impressive for a chunk of a man.
But the ball stayed out although Blackburn were coming more into the game. Howson was allowed to run and hit a long-range cracker that Robinson could only tip over the bar and the corner came to nothing.
On 43 minutes though, Blackburn took their chance.
A dream cross from Pederson was put on a plate for Formica to hit a first time shot through Ruddy`s legs from about eight yards out.
He was unmarked and neither Drury nor Surman were close enough to him.
Drury was filling in at centre back at the time, so Surman seemed most culpable although it was a peach of a cross.
City had a chance to level before the half ended when a nice Surman set piece was heading towards Holt and Ryan Bennett - they got in each other`s way and the ball went harmlessly out of play.
Norwich will have been amazed to be behind after their first half performance, at the break.
Just after the re-start, Norwich were 2-0 down and that was the game. Olson found Hoillet on the left wing and he cut inside Russell Martin and ran along the edge of the box. Martin didn`t get near him and Junior curled a great shot into the top right hand corner. Ruddy got his fingertips to it but couldn`t keep it out.
It was a terrific shot and a carbon copy of the same player`s goal at Carrow Road in the 3-3 draw there, earlier in the season.
Around the hour mark and Vaughan`s game was over as he was replaced by Steve Morison.
Hoolahan was replaced by Pilkington and a change of formation ensued. Early on in this match the diamond worked for Norwich and helped create a lot of pressure and possession in the Blackburn half. Unfortunately, Rovers eventually got wise to it and started to expose our lack of width.
With Pilks on, a more conventional 4-4-2 helped City restore some solidity.
On 66 minutes, Wilbraham replaced Holt and will feel disappointed not to have scored.
First off, he controlled the ball and swivelled to fire a shot at goal. Paul Robinson had to be alert down low to his right to push the ball wide.
Ryan Bennett then had an effort go just wide from a set piece that Wilbraham almost got his head to.
A goal in those last 20 minutes would`ve made it interesting but it never came and this was how it finished.
Lambert said afterwards that he couldn`t fault the effort but the performance wasn`t great and that we didn`t get going. We had plenty of the ball at times but didn`t create much in the way of clear cut chances and this will be a worry.
Much has been made of not letting the season fade out with a whimper and with just three games left we need a performance from somewhere. Two of our last three matches are at home, Liverpool and Villa, which I think, are both winnable.
Arsenal away will be very tough, although we clearly aren`t fazed by going to North London. We still need one point to be mathematically safe and QPR`s win against Tottenham prolonged that celebration of safety. I`m sure we`re already fine but you know what I mean.
A last minute push could also see us finish as the best of the promoted teams.
Swansea have been struggling to score goals but due to our two thumpings from Man City we have a much worse goal difference than them.
Let`s have a performance against Liverpool to get us back on track and finish on a high. The season has beaten the expectations of most Norwich fans and the fact we`ve never troubled the bottom three places has been very pleasing.
As I mentioned last week, I think we need another striker, maybe two for next year.
It might also be worth looking at a couple of players from teams who are likely to be relegated.
Matt Jarvis of Wolves looks certain for the drop and would be a useful addition.
If Blackburn join the Wolves then Junior Hoillet would be a great acquisition - either one of those two players would help create chances for our strikers.
Hoillet has often played just off Yakubu and so he could also answer the striking issue.
Get Jordan Rhodes as well and we`re on our way.