Norwich have arrived late in the relegation net. It seems like only yesterday that it was all singing and dancing at Carrow Road, but the past few months have seen a team that has been diminished by a sell-to- prosper policy, forgetting the football that not long ago brought praise and prestige.
Going into yesterday's crucial game, which is followed by an equally difficult one against Leeds before the meeting with Villa, Norwich had a record of one Premiership win in 1995 and five consecutive defeats.
It was the chairman, Robert Chase, the fans wanted out. The Norwich fans began their protest at half-time, chanting "Chase out" and holding up red cards. After the match several hundred continued the protest outside and were dispersed by police. One fan was taken to hospital and a policewoman was slightly hurt. Fans complained that police overreacted to the noisy but peaceful demonstration. One fan, Ian Bushell, said a police horse seemed to go out of control. "My nine-year-old son was terrified. The police totally overreacted. There was no need for them to use horses."
Liverpool's relaxed approach allowed them to combat Norwich's spirited initial determination with a defensive smoothness that belied the absence of Rob Jones, Neil Ruddock and Stig Bjornebye. Ominously, after seven minutes Norwich's defence also relaxed. There was a deep centre from Michael Thomas and, while defenders watched Ian Rush, Steve Harkness got to the ball first. His header was blocked by Jon Newsome, the ball ended up back at Harkness's feet and he shot in his first goal this season.
Norwich could easily have lost heart, but after surviving a shot from Jamie Redknapp that cracked against the crossbar, they took advantage of a quickly taken free-kick by Ian Crook. Daryl Sutch collected on the right side, rapidly centred at ground level, and Robert Ullathorne rammed in the equaliser. Points not being a priority for Liverpool, they elected to play possession football
That offered Norwich the chance of breakaway attacks, though only when they could take possession. When they did, 20-year-old Ade Akinbiyi promised much, and Ashley Ward brought some hope, curling a shot a foot over the bar. If there was a future for Norwich, it was more likely to come from Liverpool's lack of attacking surges than from their own innovation.
For 15 minutes of the second half Liverpool almost invited Norwich to punish them for their lethargy, yet still Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler were the game's most positive players.
Once Liverpool had decided to replace the ineffective John Barnes, they immediately pushed forward and offered McManaman even more possession. The occasional opportunity came to Norwich but they rarely committed themselves sufficiently in attack and spent minutes on end defending in their own half. Inevitably McManaman was involved when, with six minutes left, his fierce shot after another piercing run rebounded off Marshall straight to Rush, who bundled it in.
Gary Megson, the Norwich caretaker manager, felt that with Villa and Palace both losing Norwich still had a hope, if they could win their last two games. The problem is that all of the other relegation-threatened clubs have played fewer games than Norwich, who are suffering from the selling of their finest players.Reuse content