An evening of desperate ignominy in Norfolk saw Huddersfield Town trounced by a relentlessly excellent Norwich who clearly didn’t receive the memo to go easy on a club who had decided that their priorities lay elsewhere.
Deliberately enfeebling the team for a second time this season, Corberán compounded this sin by managing to organise the ragbag of has-beens, never wills and never should have beens in to a shape which surrendered swathes of space in the middle. Carlos’ opposite number sat quietly and contentedly through the ensuing massacre.
The quality of the men in yellow cannot be disputed. They played with a verve and conviction born of talent and familiarity who resisted the temptation to showboat as they pushed at the open door and filled their boots.
It was not their responsibility that the opposition not only fielded an unbalanced mess who appeared to have barely met each other before, they had a coach who, contrary to evidence and experience, emasculated his best player from Saturday’s commendable draw by playing him at left wingback. A position at which he has failed whenever the idiocy has been perpetrated.
With Holmes, who had an appallingly inept first half, failing to carry out even the rudimentary duties of a central midfielder, Carlos’ folly was exponentially increased. Directly responsible for the second goal, continuously guilty of losing possession and lacking positional awareness or the ability to track runners, the American’s disastrous performance was only slightly below many of his equally culpable team mates.
The entirely anonymous Ward made few errors but only by dent of having virtually no involvement whatsoever. An already cataclysmically bad signing, Ward showed less than nothing defending from the front, won nothing by air or land and made you yearn for Campbell’s professionally honest endeavour.
If the result wasn’t entirely in doubt before the ink dried on the lamentable team sheet, the late addition of Joel “Lucky” Pereira following Schofield’s sudden and possibly diplomatic illness plunged Town’s prospects even further. 11 goals conceded in 2 games is not what you want on a CV.
Norwich’s opener came after just 8 minutes and just 30 seconds after Keogh made an excellent block to prevent a certain goal. The ball squirted out to Cantwell who skipped around Stearman and Duhaney with far too much ease before laying it in to the path of Pukki who caught Sarr flat footed from behind.
The listless defending so early in the game was an alarming harbinger of what was to come. The Canaries scented blood, the Terriers trembled and succumbed, though it took the hosts a little time to seal their victory with a second.
A sublime ball from Cantwell to the offside Pukki nearly opened up the increasingly fragile Town defence, just before Buendia set the Finn on his way behind Stearman and Keogh, and in to the area to finish.
Holmes, and it is difficult to convey just how poor he performed, had managed to give the ball away cheaply just inside the Norwich half which allowed Buendia the opportunity to play an inch perfect pass in to space behind the central defenders.
Within 5 minutes, Buendia was allowed acres of space to move forward and easily defeat Sarr’s half hearted, half turned attempt at a block with an excellent shot which beat Pereira and went in off the post.
At this point, even the mild resistance of the Yorkshiremen had crumbled in the face of overwhelming superiority and a 4th goal soon arrived with the impressive Cantwell and Buendia combining for the lovely haired Canary to hit the top corner beyond the hapless Pereira.
With no discernible press up top, barely a tackle being attempted and a complete absence of cohesion, Town, already dead and buried, looked ripe for a huge defeat.
Other than some poorly executed corners, Norwich looked flawless as they ripped in to their wretched opponents. Buendia, a top level player in all but status and which will soon be resolved, hit the bar with an excellent free kick, though the relief for the visitors was short lived.
One time Town target Dowell touched a glorious dink over the visiting defence to the irrepressible Buendia who could have made it a good day for himself with another goal but unselfishly fed the ball back to Dowell for Norwich’s nap hand.
A torrid first half ended without further damage and the traumatised and bewildered visitors could seek the sanctuary of the dressing room to hide their humiliation and embarrassment. Surpassing even the Bournemouth debacle, the only thing to hope for was that they would scramble to recover whatever passes for pride these days at Huddersfield Town.
Scott High was thrown on to replace the woeful Stearman at the break, though any one of the toxic central defensive trio could have been hooked. Presumably, Stearman drew the long straw.
Some sense of normalcy descended in the opening stages of the second half as Norwich settled comfortably in full certainty of their victory and another stride to inevitable promotion.
The introduction of Thomas, for Hogg, and Rowe for Holmes allowed O’Brien to move in to midfield and Town actually enjoyed a very brief period of ascendancy, with Thomas showing more ambition and positivity in a few minutes than Mbenza and Ward had shown put together.
Just before the hour, Thomas finally brought Krul in to the game, forcing a decent save at his near post.
Ineptitude soon raised it’s ugly head, however, when Skipp surged in to Town’s half with no challenge until Mbenza decided it was a good idea to make one as the Spurs loanee entered the area. It was a little soft, but difficult to complain about when any sort of attempted tackle was likely to upend the opponent who was in full flow.
Pukki drove in the penalty for his hat trick.
Sensing defeat was on the cards, Corberán withdrew O’Brien and Sarr and, to emphasise the sheer horror of the whole evening, Bacuna was handed the captain’s armband.
Any semblance of resistance collapsed again at this point and had Norwich capitalised, a historic defeat of Maine Road proportions and beyond was on the cards. As it was, only one further goal was added and the biggest defeat since November 1987 was suffered.
Humiliated, and with integrity considerably diminished, Town could only reflect on their opponents’ achievements following their relegation last season. While Norwich planned for demotion, the Terriers’ Premier League legacy is in tatters. If Rotherham are defeated on Saturday, the management and hierarchy may believe that the sacrifices made at Carrow Road will be deemed acceptable by the club’s supporters. They will be wrong.
Fielding a deliberately uncompetitive team in the hope that this will help towards a game against lowly Rotherham, who themselves were beaten comprehensively by bottom club Wycombe last time out, is both desperate and hugely disappointing. Even being in the position of scrabbling towards survival remains unacceptable.
Corberán’s repetition of his Bournemouth strategy, his incomprehensible deployment of O’Brien at left wing back and an ill advised reversion back to the tippy tappy nonsense he persisted with throughout the winless late winter months were hugely annoying and regrettably indicative of a refusal or inability to learn.
Having set out his stall, Rotherham must be vanquished. Minimum.