Match Coverage

Norwich 0-0 City: match report

Sometimes you just have to say “that was absolutely f***ing atrocious,” neck a beer, slit your wrists, swallow a few pills and then bathe in a cold bath of misery before waking up in the morning when everything will be OK.

But you know what, lads and ladies, I reckon this one’s going to hurt for a while.

Of course, we could just wipe away the result with the ‘it’s sound, Pep’s coming’ line that has become our Cillit Bang ever since the club announced that perhaps the best coach in world football would be taking over next season. Norwich City, 18th in the league and without a win in nine games, nil; Manchester City nil. Bang, and the dirt is gone. Or in our case, mention Pep’s name and the dirt is gone.

For me, that line is about as useful as the one that references the good old days back in Division 2. Even though I’m as excited as the next guy about Pep Guardiola being our manager next term, it’s completely unproductive to live in the past or the future. The present is what matters, and right now, what we’re seeing on the pitch is tosh.

Manuel Pellegrini – ‘the Engineer’, supposedly – has this season conceived a machine that groans and suffocates under a coat of rust from some of the finest materials available to a man of his trade. Successful engineers excel in developing new solutions. They must adapt their ideas and choose the solution that best matches the requirements, but this one is a one trick pony that refuses to learn from previous mistakes.

It seems that Pellegrini looks at this talented bunch of players and believes that, regardless of who he picks, they’ll have a good chance of winning. Manuel is a professional football coach, he knows far more about the game than a keyboard warrior like myself, but for Christ’s sake, both you and I know that football doesn’t work like that. Playing a terrific striker like Sergio Agüero does not guarantee you goals if your tactics isolate him and playing a fantastic creative midfielder like David Silva does not guarantee that chances will be created, especially when the player, by his and Pellegrini’s own admission, is struggling with an ankle injury. Looking at the last two seasons, Pellegrini has to be considered as one of the five worst managers in the division with the resources he has.

The players deserve roasting, too. They talk too much. “This is what we call hunting season,” says Vincent Kompany. “We can catch Leicester,” said Fernandinho with all the fight and passion of Rubén Cousillas after 105 joints before he and his teammates went to Carrow Road and gave one of the most lifeless performances I’ve seen since the 2008 takeover. Close your mouths and do the talking on the pitch where it actually matters.

The ball was ours for the first 25 minutes of the game, but incision was lacking. Down the left hand side where Russell Martin looked to be there for the taking, we could only offer the defensive-minded Gaël Clichy as an opponent. Much better equipped to take advantage of the 30-year-old’s lack of pace would have been Raheem Sterling, but he was left on the bench for the fifth time in our last eight games.

Agüero was our main threat, once again putting his comatose strike partner Wilfried Bony in the shade with a couple of decent efforts that encouraged some optimism. A long range free-kick and a low strike into the corner tested the palms of Ruddy and represented our best chances in the first half. Again, though, the pressure was on Agüero to pull off something special with ingenuity lacking elsewhere and he was swiftly muscled out of the game once his intentions were detected. Bony, handed a consecutive start, was utterly anonymous.

Norwich, driven by the fear of relegation and now wise to our approach, came into the half and should have gone into the break ahead. Swinging his left foot at the ball, Patrick Bamford watched his sweet effort crash against Joe Hart’s bar. Half time and Norwich were well in this.

The game descended into an unwatchable sloppy mess after the break. Sterling and Iheanacho were thrown into the fray, but neither could influence the tie that certainly wont be entering the history books. The fact that this season’s title favourites failed to register a single shot on target in the second half shows you just how low standards have dropped.

If there was any slim, and I mean slim, hope of catching up with Leicester before this game, it’s now gone. The players and the manager will no doubt try and console us all with those empty words of positivity this week, but to be honest, I’d take more pleasure in listening to a four-hour long compilation of Michael Owen talking about his favourite mammals.

I wish to never speak of this game again. Piss off.

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