January 2013 was a month to forget for Norwich City supporters. The Canaries mustered just two Premier League points, suffered a hefty beating at the hands of Liverpool, and got embarrassed by local rivals Luton Town in the FA Cup.
It has been a big test for Chris Hughton but once again, he has come out of it with some credit, showing his critics that he is an excellent man manager, and not just a quality coach.
The Canaries battled to a 1-1 draw with Tottenham in midweek, and had it not been for some Gareth Bale brilliance, might have recorded three precious points. The ship was steadied further on Saturday as they battled to a deserved point away at QPR. Norwich went to Loftus Road as underdogs, despite QPR’s perilous position in the league.
The point suits them better than Harry Redknapp’s team, and shows they have more fight that was evidently lacking on the previous two Saturday showings. It could have been a different story but for some excellent goalkeeping from stand-in Mark Bunn.
After an absolutely dreadful first-half the visitors looked like going a goal behind on 55 minutes, when Bunn misjudged the flight of the ball and fouled Jamie Mackie in the penalty area. The ball looked to be going out of play, so it was a needless challenge to make but the striker also made the most of the minimal contact.
Nevertheless, Bunn redeemed himself to save Adel Taarbat’s tame spot-kick which could be a crucial turning point in the seasons of both clubs. He then had to be at full stretch to deny Hoops new boy Andros Townsend.
At the other end, the in-form Julio Cesar was once again unbeatable, producing strong reflexes to keep out Robert Snodgrass and Wes Hoolahan.
It was a decent and deserved point for Norwich after some alarming performances in all competitions.
However the statistics don’t lie on this occasion. The draw leaves the East Anglia side winless in eight Premier League matches and they might be looking over their shoulders nervously, especially after Saturday’s results for a spirited Reading side that doesn’t know when it is beaten and a rejuvenated Newcastle unit.
But Norwich did take a measured approach to the transfer market and didn’t panic when others like QPR did in gambling on big money signings. Kei Kamara has come in on loan and Luciano Becchio has joined from Leeds United, in an exchange deal which has seen Steve Morison go in the other direction to Elland Road.
Becchio started on the bench on Saturday, but if he gets selected regularly, he should score the goals that have been missing all campaign from captain Grant Holt, who was largely anonymous again in west London. It will be interesting to see where Becchio will fit into the side.
Progress has been made over the past few days for Norwich City. The supporters can start to feel optimistic again after two steady performances and points.
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