It wasn’t the opening to the new Premier League season Norwich City would have been hoping for, while rookie referee Simon Hooper would have surely been left red-faced having well and truly fluffed his Premier League audition.
Starting with the Canaries, there was certainly more good than bad. City played some lovely stuff, they created chances and there’s a fair argument to be had that they were the better side – certainly for long periods during the game.
However, Norwich were guilty of making life tricky for themselves as well. The first goal we conceded wasn’t a brilliant one, whilst the second – and I won’t make any excuses for the Canaries – was a woeful goal to concede. Elsewhere, Lewis Grabban should have scored at 0-0 and that’s undoubtedly a lesson City’s attacking talents will have to learn fast. When we get chances, we have to take them. We’re not going to get as many as we did last season.
Yet, you could make an argument to say Norwich did actually take their chances and here’s where we swing to referee, Simon Hooper. I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now. How on earth he’s adjudged Cameron Jerome to be guilty of a high foot is beyond me. It’s shocking refereeing. All Jerome has done is score a fantastically good goal. If the right decision is made, most likely by a competent official rather than what we were given, all the momentum is with the hosts. Who knows? Maybe they go on and win the game then. Three points already on the board. Boom. We’re talking about a fantastic comeback, I’m here giddy as a five-year-old on Christmas Eve and not biting my tongue in the hope of avoiding coming out with anything potentially libellous about Mr Hooper.
Of course, that wasn’t enough for the man in the middle as he missed what looked to be a clearcut penalty in stoppage-time for us. Another chance for us to salvage a point. But the big sin is the goal. It’s inexplicable. Well you could offer up some explanation, but that’d be as a useful as trying to tell me how FIFA is a fantastic, ethical organisation, the Qatar World Cup is a good idea or how Sepp Blatter should be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
To be fair, I could sit here and work myself up into a fiery rage and put together a Simon Hooper dartboard but it’s not going to change anything now. From what I saw of the Canaries, they will be fine this season. Neil is on the lookout for a couple more new faces, one of those being a striker, and I just feel if we get those in, with our squad and our manager, we’ll be fine. Quite honestly, Norwich will play worse this season and win games. There was plenty from their performance to be encouraged about. Plenty to feel positive about. Plenty to take forwards.
There are of course things to work on but Alex Neil isn’t a slow learner. He’ll get this league figured out fast. Norwich City will be a Premier League side again this time next season, you can quote me on that. Also, I feel I can confidently say that Simon Hooper won’t be a Premier League referee again come the weekend. It was an experiment on par with that attempt to come up with a cancer vaccine in I Am Legend.
Onto Sunderland we go, who undoubtedly will be one of City’s rivals in terms of staying in the league this season – therefore it’s important we pick something up.