The new year didn’t start as well as Norwich City fans would have been hoping for; the trip to Upton Park was always going to be a tough test. And I think most fans would have been happy enough to have taken a point from the game.
Nevertheless, a fourth straight Premier League loss was hugely disappointing and continues a worrying piece of form for the Canaries. However, the 2-1 result shows that it was a fairly tight game that the away side might have taken something from.
So, sit back and enjoy my latest slideshow on the finer points of the game and what it means going forward.
I have watched Norwich City for long enough to know that the club doesn’t usually get the luck with decisions. Of course, the Canaries have received some decisions that might be seen as fortunate this season, but a number of big decisions have also gone the other way.
Now, I know that it’s a tough job, and it’s the same for everyone, but it’s often said that referees will look to even things up if they make a soft decision. We will all have opinions on whether or not that penalty inside the first two minutes should have been given. And my personal feeling is that it was an extremely harsh decision and a very soft penalty to concede. After all, we see this sort of incident all the time and a penalty is rarely given.
I think it’s fair to say that it is one of those that probably wouldn’t get given against one of those so-called "big clubs." The thing that annoys me about it is the lack of consistency. I have no problem with shirt-pulling being punishable by a penalty kick. However, nine times out of 10 that proves not to be the case.
The other side of Saturday’s incident is that it was a two-sided affair. For my money, Winston Reid was doing just as much as Ryan Bennett was. Therefore, I find it hard to believe that a decision could really be given anyway. And usually that is the case, as play is allowed to continue, so it’s always a tough decision to take when one of those goes against your team.
Nevertheless, the bit that really confuses me is why didn’t the referee even it up when he had the opportunity. First, there was an incident that involved what looked to be a fairly blatant handball, and then a cynical foul on Harry Kane when the striker was clear.
But not only did he turn those appeals away, but he also punished Norwich further by failing to call a foul when Alex Tettey was floored by Carlton Cole, especially since that could have been a serious injury. I know my view is likely to be biased, but in my view so was the referee on the day, and what kind of excuse could he really have?
It would be easy to blame the defeat on the fact that the Canaries had a number of major players missing. Grant Holt and Steve Morison were both unavailable due to injury, which caused a crisis up front, but Harry Kane came in a did a decent job.
However, Bradley Johnson and Javier Garrido were also unavailable for selection. We know that John Ruddy has a relatively long-term issue, and Steven Whittaker is also currently sidelined.
Some people might say that it is unlucky to have key players out, and although this is true, it is also why Premier League sides have a 25-man squad. Chris Hughton needs to have a serious look at his squad and decide if he really has the strength in depth that is required.
I certainly think that there are certain areas where Norwich could do with some better backup.
I was impressed with the impact that Elliott Bennett offered from the bench against West Ham. I like Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington a lot, but I feel that Bennett offers a slightly different option. The thing that is great about him is that he keeps things simple and does the things that wingers should do.
Snodgrass offers great delivery from set pieces, and Pilkington gets into some great positions to grab goals, but Bennett gets into dangerous positions to get crosses in that I don’t often see from our other two options. Therefore, with form suffering and injuries mounting, it might be the right time to recall him to the starting XI.
I think it’s fair to say that the majority of Norwich City fans recognise that we aren’t in the best of form. But it’s not easy to turn things around once these sort of runs begin, so a bit of alteration in the team might be required in order to turn things around.
It was rare to see David Fox make a substitute appearance during the club’s 2-1 defeat against West Ham, but this did at least show that he is not completely out of the picture. And with injuries beginning to mount him, it may well be that his first Premier League start this season is not too far away.