Vito Mannone – 6
Another quiet game for Vito bar picking the ball out of his net twice. Whilst left stranded for Maddison’s pin-point free kick, no keeper would have likely saved that. Little chance for Jerome’s header where the defence went AWOL. Thus far, Vito’s been reliable and much less prone to disaster than the previous incumbent. (Furiously, trying to find a bright side here…)
Chris Gunter – 4
A dreadful game for the Welsh International. Error strewn, bad decision making (although he was hardly alone there) and save a rare shot that hit the crossbar, his contribution is more likely to be remembered for passing to two Norwich players in the space of ten seconds in and around the edge of the box.
Tyler Blackett – 4
I forgot to add Tyler to the scores last week and I wish I could have done the same today. Like Gunter, passing and finding man seemed like an alien sport. Time and time again he failed to find his target – even if he was ten yards away. In some defence, if there could be any, Norwich did target our wing-backs and why wouldn’t you?
Paul McShane – 5
At one point in the second half, Macca looked up at the East Stand and shook his head. As may well he should as he is increasingly looking like a player where the game is getting away from him. He’s still one of our best defenders, undoubtedly, but the composure isn’t there, nor the confidence.
Liam Moore – 7
Liam is now, in my eyes, the true captain of the side, leading by example, strong in the tackle, committed and passionate – the only slight problem being that many of the team fail to get onboard. A well taken header from a set-piece also. That’s two in a week, folks.
Joey van den Berg – 6
Against Hull City, I gave Joey a bit of a pasting in the ratings, but I’ll hold my hand up here and say I was impressed. There was a lot less of the impulsiveness and gung-ho attitude and more bravado and some eye watering challenges. How he didn’t get booked I’ll never know as he spent more time talking to the Ref than he probably did his wife in the last week!
Leandro Bacuna – 7
Another very decent performance from the former Villa enfant terrible. At this stage in his career as a Royal, you wonder what on earth he did wrong in the Midlands? He’s now a name that’s first on team sheet* and when we’re without him it’s certainly to the detriment of the XI. Bar a booking after five minutes, he controlled himself well considering some of the challenged flying around.
*unless you’re Jaap Stam.
Liam Kelly – 5
Energetic and showed some nice touches, but the game seemed to get away from Liam in the second half, especially. Often out-muscled by City’s excellent midfield, he struggled to find rhythm. But in defence, I feel that’s poor management by Stam as our midfield chops and changes so often that these crucial partnerships are not being formed.
Roy Beerens – 5
Yet another game, where Roy flitted in and out without ever being effective, bar the free kick for Moore’s goal. Again, in defence, playing up front as some twisted joke of a false nine is not his fault.
Sone Aluko – 5
Showed signs of improvement, but like Beerens, suffers at the lack of a manager who knows how to play him. Some nice touches, especially in the first half, but faded in the second.
Garath McCleary – 5
Ditto Beerens and Aluko – being forced to play in a role where you neither enjoy or excel is never going to deliver results, but Garath is forced to. Flitted between right side of the three and in the middle of the false nine bobbins, but why when Norwich had two huge totem poles in central defence? Boggling.
Jon Dadi Böðvarsson – 6
Again, brought on to change the game to bring some sense of normality to proceedings. He did well to bring others into the game, but did not unfortunately get any chances.
Omar Richards – 6
Did well for his first home league debut in the short amount of time he had. Showed some nice touches and did not seem overawed in any way.
Mo Barrow – 5
Not Mo’s fault, but why bring the guy on and then proceed not to give him the ball? He must have been on the pitch for ten minutes before even touching the ball. He cut a very despondent figure; waiting for the ball to arrive when in yards of space.
Jaap Stam – 5
It’s often said that a manager who sticks to principles but make stranger and stranger decisions is one who is in trouble. Stam is steadfast in playing a system where our strengths are not utilised and players in positions where they clearly do not enjoy being in. As a result, we’re just not a cohesive unit. The defence is set up fine, but between midfield and ‘attack’ (let’s be honest, there is no attack) – there’s such a huge disconnect. The chopping and changing of midfield creates uncertainty (let alone dropping Edwards after scoring a goal) and the insistence of playing Beerens, McCleary and Aluko up front when not one of them has shown any signs of creativity in open play, or scoring a goal. The blame likes firmly at Jaap’s door.
We lost due to not playing as a unit, one where each player understands their role and is good at it. Norwich played as a team, knew their strengths and, at times, played like the home side. Mentally, they did a job on us, and our lack of organisation and tactics again cost us dear. The worries continue…