A clear gulf in quality was on full display for all to see as a completely rampant Norwich demonstrated why they’re top of the league.
Here are my takeaways from the match:
1. A thoroughly deserved drubbing
Let’s get this clear right from the offset. Anybody who believed that we could take anything off Norwich based of the time we nearly scabbed a result at their place has a lot more faith than I do. Never for a minute did I think we would take anything away from them and their performance was that of a team who were united, knew their roles, knew their teammates and had the grit and mentality to never let their heads drop. It honestly should have been more with Bolton being the complete contradiction of that for the most part. If it wasn’t for a certain player, I’m sure it would have been. Speaking of which...
2. Remi Matthews
Just like Ben Alnwick last season, Remi Matthews is playing like a man possessed to prevent our struggling side from being the biggest whipping boys in the division. You could see he was desperate to put in a good shift against his former and if it wasn’t for his efforts between the sticks, capped off with a penalty save to spare our blushes just a little, we’d probably have had a similar goal difference to Ipswich at the moment.
3. Scouting Network needs work
One thing that really caught my attention after the match was that Norwich signed their Finnish goal machine for absolutely nothing. The man who put 2 past us and has scored more goals than our entire squad in the league this season was a free transfer. That is maddening. It especially hits home when you cast your mind back about 15 or so years ago and we were employing the same strategy of signing these talented Scandinavian players either on the cheap or for nothing at all. It worked then and it clearly still works for clubs now, even if we’re now more aware of what the Nordic region can produce nowadays. It begs the question why we’ve abandoned this strategy for scouting in the past decade or so when other clubs are using it and we had years of enjoyment from Bergsson, Johansen, Frandsen, Pedersen, Gudjohnsen, Jaaskelainen etc. It’s probably financial at this point but we should seriously consider taking advantage of that market again if we ever get taken over. (Hurry up please Kenneth)
4. Why is every Championship referee bad at their job?
Seriously, the standard in this division is awful to put it mildly. Don’t think for a second I’m blaming our result on the referees but it’s ridiculous how consistently awful the officials have been for us and today was no different. Near enough every time we tussled with the Norwich lads for the ball or they made a meal of some physicality towards them, the decisions went against us. If they’re going to give soft decisions they might as well be for both sides to show some consistency. It’s like they have the mindset that just because we set up as a big physical side, we’re clearly bullying our opposition too much when we try to go for the ball. I will happily admit he got the big call regarding the penalty correct but until referee’s start showing some consistency, whether that’s consistently lenient or consistently stringent about the rules, then it’ll never improve.
5. Non-existent consistency
I hate the current mentality of our team. Bar Matthews, Noone and Murphy, none of them show the desire to fight for the ball and run through brick walls to try and get something from this game. It’s all well and good Parky saying that he thought they did but that’s all media talk. I can accept we’re not up to par with a lot of the teams in this division. We’re mostly a team of freebies from the lower leagues, castaways and journeymen. It’s expected when the majority of your squad was just cobbled together this season. However, that is absolutely no excuse to not show some bleeding pride and put in a shift like at Birmingham more often. Even if it’s just to put yourself in the shop window for next season or to earn your place if and when a new owner/manager comes in, you need to put your body on the line for whatever cause you’re fighting for. Take more chances and run into space. Talk with each other more to cover ground and ensure that moves can come out. Don’t jog back when we lose the ball and jog forward when Remi has caught the ball. Run quicker to attack and run quicker to an attacker. We had that in abundance last season and a lot of it has disappeared. I can accept we’re not very good in this division but at least fight to make up for it.