The obvious course of action is not always the right one, but sometimes it is, and Owen Coyle's refusal to take it led to him suffering on two counts at Carrow Road. Insisting on wearing his customary shorts on an afternoon cold enough to freeze the soul, let alone the extremities, seemed almost masochistic, for all he claimed afterwards not to be aware of the temperature until the match was over. And so too did his refusal to change the way his side was set up to account for the fact Norwich had lost both their centre-halves in a first half during which Bolton managed a solitary strike on goal, and that a long-distance shot from Martin Petrov moments before the break.
By the time Coyle did introduce Kevin Davies, for whom the situation appeared ideally suited, to give David N'Gog support up front, Norwich had re-established an impressive momentum, and while Bolton did improve, it was no surprise that Andrew Surman, with a volley, and Anthony Pilkington, turning in after Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan had saved Russell Martin's shot, scored the goals which gave the Canaries a deserved victory.
For Coyle, however, it was in defence rather than attack where his team had failed to reach the standards which had seen them take 11 points from their previous seven games. "When Kevin came on he won every header and looked a threat, but the problem was we didn't defend well enough to keep Norwich out, and ultimately that was the tale of the game," he claimed.
Opposite number Paul Lambert is not one for going over the top, but after seeing his players let themselves down against Sunderland in midweek, the manner in which they bounced back led the Scot to claim it was the best performance he had seen in his time at the club. "The way we played, losing two centre-halves and having to put two full-backs in at centre-half, was really pleasing. We were excellent."
Norwich: RUDDY 7/10; DRURY 6; WHITBREAD 7; AYALA 7; NAUGHTON 8; PILKINGTON 7; FOX 7; HOOLAHAN 7; SURMAN 7; JACKSON 8; HOLT 7
Bolton: BOGDAN 6; RICKETTS 6; WHEATER; 7 KNIGHT 7; MEARS 6; MUAMBA 5; REO-COKER 5; PETROV 6; M DAVIES 6; EAGLES 5; NGOG5
Scorers: Norwich City Surman 70, Pilkington 85
Substitutes: Norwich R Martin 7 (Ayala, 23), Bennett 7 (Whitbread, 40), Morison (Jackson, 74) Bolton Wanderers K Davies 6 (Muamba, 57), Tuncay (Eagles, 73), Sordell (Ngog, 82).
Man of the match Naughton.
Match rating 6/10
Possession: Norwich 49% Bolton 51%
Attempts on target: Norwich 9 Bolton 6
Referee L Probert (Gloucestershire) Attendance 26,358Reuse content