Sat. Feb 16th, 2019
Carrow Road (256 Colours)

The ex returns, but the spark’s just not there

NORWICH CITY 1 PRESTON NORTH END 1 | The return of Alex Neil couldn’t prompt City into life. The return of Alex Pritchard provided some encouragement. This was a lifeless game, lit up by James Maddison, but with a familiar end result

Carrow Road (256 Colours)NORWICH CITY 1 PRESTON NORTH END 1 | 🔰 The return of Alex Neil couldn’t prompt City into life. The return of Alex Pritchard provided some encouragement. This was a lifeless game, lit up by James Maddison, but with a familiar end result.

In my head, this was going to be a showdown between Norwich managers past and present. The pragmatic German against the gung-ho Scot. In reality, we got a dour affair between two mid-table sides, whose early season form has deserted them, leaving them struggling for inspiration, goals and points.

On reflection, this was always going to be another home draw wasn’t it?…

🇩🇪 Farke v Neil 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿: The Showdown

Games revolving around the return of a former manager understandably have a bit more than three points attached to them. Like seeing an ex-girlfriend with another man, there’s a whole raft of emotions that can be reignited seeing a previous manager in the opposition dugout.

Sometimes there’s the anger at seeing them with another man. A man more successful than you, with more money, greater life experiences, a higher league position. You feel pleased for them, but the manner of the break up still hurts. Also known as the ‘I’m happy for you’ emotion. And often expressed through gritted teeth.

In other cases, the charming ex is being even more charming to their new beau. Bestowing the presents upon them, which they promised while with you, but never fully delivered. The only response – chant ‘boring boring Hughton’ and ‘(s)he’ll bring you back down’.

In some cases, the ex has come off worse and has settled for the plain bloke from up north that was cool back in the day, but no one really cares about anymore. You want to laugh at him. Then you realise you drink in the same bar as them, drive the same car…

Lambert always seemed to get the better of us as Villa manager. Hughton the last laugh as Brighton strut their stuff in the Premier League.

Neil? His return was pretty much met with apathy. Sure, if he’d taken three points it may have annoyed, but this was rather pleasant. Sharing a joke with James Maddison. Shaking hands with officials and players before and after the game. Norwich did well by Neil, he gave us Wembley in return. We’re both older and not as attractive as we were two years ago…

Daniel Farke is a first dalliance with a suave foreigner. His early charm seems to have worn off. Now it’s time to see if he has the qualities to make us want to be in this for the long haul.

Either way, this was a tame affair between two struggling sides. Maybe City will be more ruthless at Deepdale in April. Maybe they won’t. Maybe one or both of these managers won’t be there either…

No confidence. Apart from our Portuguese ‘star’

Once again, this was a game lacking in entertainment – James Maddison’s superb free-kick aside.

The club is looking for ways to improve the atmosphere. Perhaps replacing the football equivalent of carpet bowls at half time may be a start(!) But the only sure fire method is to improve the football on show.

Yes, this was more direct. There were more long balls. Less sideways and backwards passing. Perhaps even slightly more urgency. Possibly. But no more chances created – Josh Murphy’s blocked shot aside.

Oh, Josh what were you doing?

The twin’s attempt to roll the ball into an unguarded net was pitiful. So scared of making a mistake, Murphy looked like a deer in the headlights, taking an age to decide what to do with the ball. Before making a mistake. The finish at Arsenal was impudent. This abysmal. A clear case of a player – and a team – that know they’re down on their luck.

One exception to this rule seems to be Nelson Oliveira. Following his recall to the Portugal squad, he’s returned to Norfolk with a seemingly worse attitude than the one he left with. The one that saw him whipping his shirt off at Fulham.

Against Preston, he looked lazy. Running as little as possible. Trying flicks when a simple pass was required. Yes, you’ve played with Ronaldo. But you’re not Ronaldo. City has given you a lot of love. Show some respect.

“You’re not fit to run the line!”

Of course, the other highlight of the match also descended into farce.

Seeing one of the match officials limping off is always a funny sight. Seeing 22 players called to the side of the pitch while a replacement fourth official is found is not.

It seems it’s not only City with work to do.

Come on the FA. Come on Daniel Farke.

Sort it out guys!

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