Korey Smith isn’t yet good enough to step up
Some of you will say it’s harsh, because he’s young, hasn’t played too often lately, etc. But he isn’t. And the thing many also need to accept is that he didn’t always cope with the Championship. There was a reason his stay in the side last year was temporary, as he remains a player with a one sided game. He harries, tackles and chases, and last night he chased the shadows of a League One team. Korey was admirable in our first promotion and useful in our second, but as he enters his twenties, the limitations on his game mean the club is likely to outgrow him rather than the other way round. He is without an attacking bone in his body, getting a nosebleed if he enters the final third, and while many will cry youth, there is only so long that can be an excuse. A good season or two in the Championship would do wonders for his development and help turn him into an all round player, but on current showing, he remains a long way from the first team.
Andrew Surman remains a player many ‘don’t get’
Surman is a puzzle, a player with poise and intelligence at his best, but awkward and anonymous at his worst. Against MK Dons, he was among his worst. He put in arguably the poorest performance on the pitch, punctuated by his stupid error that gifted the Dons their fourth goal. We all know what Surman brings to the table when he’s on form, and the game vs Forest is an example of the influence he can have. But coming just days after his ineffectual sub appearance vs Stoke, another performance of inept anonymity will leave him in a precarious position. Johnson and Pilkington head a long line of players itching to make a midfield berth their own, and Surman needs to work on his consistence if he wants to prove to Norwich what he failed to do at Wolves; that he is a Premier League standard player.
The timing of Barnett’s ban couldn’t have been better
Whitbread returned to the team tonight and put in a decent shift, among the more creditable in yellow shirts, but he was partnered by debutant Daniel Ayala who had a bit of a mare. Poor positionally, all arms in the tackle and culpable for the first goal, he did little to inspire confidence. Norwich now have a centre-back corps that is five deep but doubts over quality remain. Leon and De Laet are arguably the stand out pairing and will likely start vs Chelsea (Zak is of course in contention), but there is a reason that Ayala cost less than many championship centrebacks, including one who is about to drop down a division, Gorkss who is heading to Reading from QPR for £1m. Ayala has the potential and will no doubt feature many times, and his performances will hopefully improve once he has settled into a better understanding with his teammates, but the return of Barnett to the fold on Saturday is a relief.
Norwich fans are gluttons for punishment
But it isn’t an excuse. Our poor record in cup competition is well known yet 13,000 fans made their way to Carrow Road to the game last night. A credible defeat to concentrate on league games wouldn’t have upset, and a win would certainly have pleased, but to put in a performance so abject and gutless leaves a sour taste. A lot of those who went last night will not be season ticket holders, for one reason or another, and many will be kids. They won’t come back any time soon having seen the show put on last night, a performance that simply lacked guts. It’s the least you should be able to come away with. It is easy to dismiss, however, when you didn’t attend. Simply saying it’s a cup game and we can now concentrate on the league doesn’t help me or the other families paid money for an insipid performance. So it’s not enough to brush it under the carpet. With that said…
It offered bugger all insight into the Premier League campaign
The team had 11 changes and on Saturday we can expect it again. The setup vs Chelsea is another world away from what we went through last night, the expectation from both the manager and the crowd wildly different. Any players who survive last night and play will have something to prove, and those who come back into the fold will want to show the fight that the team missed yesterday. It all starts again at the weekend and this will be swiftly forgotten.
So that’s ok then, right?