Norwich City need to be brave to embark on a different path

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Chris Brunskill/Getty ImagesWes Hoolahan and Norwich City were never able to find their footing on Saturday against a very hungry Hull City.

Norwich City's miserable trip to Humberside was a depressing step back in time.

Hull City deserved their landmark 1-0 Premier League win through Robbie Brady's first-half penalty for no other reason than the Canaries deserved precious little, despite the numerical advantage of an extra man for more than an hour.

- Match report: Hull City 1-0 Norwich City

Yannick Sagbo incurred Steve Bruce's wrath for a rush of blood that threatened to engulf his teammates after a straight red card for an apparent head butt gesture in the direction of Norwich captain Russell Martin.

Sagbo had been a prominent figure in the early stages with his power and direct running unsettling both Martin and former Tiger Michael Turner to such a degree that the Norwich centre-back was penalised for pinning the striker inside his own box.

Chris Hughton felt a heightened sense of grievance at the soft nature of the penalty concession and the inconsistency that is the bane of managers up and down the land. Hughton was at pains to point out that Curtis Davies' earlier shove on Turner went unpunished. He had a case, but there was no defence for the manner in which Norwich spurned a rare Premier League away victory.

The visitors were too pedestrian, too predictable in possession. Hull retreated to the edge of Allan McGregor's penalty area that was marshalled by a warrior in Davies and restricted Norwich largely to speculative long-range forays. Ricky van Wolfswinkel tested McGregor just the once with a thumping header from seven yards out the Scottish keeper acrobatically tipped over his bar in front of the 2,500-strong travelling support. It was a tease and a tantalising glimpse for those fans of the latent attacking potential that Hughton must unlock to ensure the Canaries are not set for another campaign of torturous struggle.

Norwich have been lauded for their astute summer recruitment drive, but displays like the one on Humberside merely underline there will be turbulent interludes to this process of assimilation and integration.

Hughton has addressed the attacking deficiency that restricted Norwich's progress during his first year at the helm. But the Canaries' inability to pierce a well-drilled Hull rearguard must surely be a cause for alarm even at such a formative stage of the new campaign.

Norwich's stellar rise has been forged on a unity and collective sense of purpose. It is the story of the outsider, but Hughton's club has now just embarked on a third consecutive season in such rarefied company. They need to develop a fresh outlook on life. The baton has been passed to sides like Hull and Cardiff City and the feverish atmospheres generated by their expectant supporters. For them, the Premier League is a voyage of discovery. A place of limitless possibilities. Norwich have passed through that initiation. They must forge a new path.

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