Norwich City manager Paul Lambert commented after the game that this was he best performance of his reign so far. You may think that a 2-0 home win over a struggling Bolton team isn’t exactly spectacular but this was all about the way we went about the game and how we bounced back from the defeat in mid-week to Sunderland.
I didn’t travel to Sunderland but I watched on Sky and it was without doubt our worst performance of the season so far as we didn’t get going in the game at all. Bolton was a complete contrast, in the first 10 minutes I think we had strung more passes together than we did in the entire game at Sunderland. Even Paul Lambert got in on the action later in the game with an impressive long ball back to the Bolton keeper!
The performance was even more credible given that we lost our two centre halves in the first half, Ayala going off injured on 23 minutes followed by Whitbread on 40 minutes. This meant that young Elliott Bennett, normally a right winger, had to come on and play right back and Kyle Naughton our loanee right back moved into the centre. This left us really lacking height which was a concern yet the team pulled together, Holt bolting back into central defence whenever height was needed, a real team effort.
2-0 to be honest was a flattering score for Bolton as we came close to getting more from Surman hitting the woodwork and Holt missing from close rage in the second half, the latter had an outstanding performance and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet. Norwich had 20 shots on goal, double that against Sunderland in mid-week. Surprisingly Norwich put only 3 more crosses in than the game against Sunderland yet our accuracy was at 43% compared with a mere 23% at Sunderland. Possession wise there wasn’t much between the two teams Norwich and Bolton. To be fair to Bolton, they pass the ball round well and have a good midfield, their problem is not having enough power up front and at times a very susceptible looking back four. I think they are good enough to stay up though and I hope they do.
Lambert is becoming a bit of a tinker man, 9 times out of 10 this works, it didn’t at Sunderland but we’ll let him off that one. He gave Simeon Jackson a well deserved start against Bolton and he was superb, picking up the man of the match award. He adds much needed pace to the front-line and working with the buffalo that is Grant Holt this looks to be a bit of a magic pairing.
Lambert’s substitutions after the two injuries also were inspired, Elliott Bennett had an impeccable game at right back, pushing up the wing as well as defending as if that was his natural position. Kyle Naughton was solid in the middle and Russell Martin rarely put a foot wrong on his 100th appearance for Norwich. Even his final substitution of Morison on for Jackson worked brilliantly with Morison nearly setting up Holt for a goal and looking sharp after getting a bit of stick over the last few games.
This was a great team performance and although the scoreline might not show it I agree with Paul Lambert that this was the best game of his reign so far leaving us potentially with just 2 or 3 more wins to guarantee premier league status next season. Or as I heard one person say at the ground, “we’re only 10 points of a European place”, bring on Barcelona.