John Smith's Fans' Panel verdict: How quickly optimism has faded inside a week

Last week a plum FA Cup fourth-round draw, coupled with the signing of two new strikers, had seen my North End footballing mindset transformed similar to an old carpet which had its freshness put back after being heavily sprinkled with Shake ’n’ Vac.
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Our lack of striking options had been causing me some concern for most of the season.

But the midweek arrival of Tom Cannon and Liam Delap had given rise to some optimism that we might be able to inject some fresh life into our season, which I thought was heading in a downward direction after a brief flirtation with the play-off places a few weeks ago.

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Although I was optimistic, Norwich are one of the divisions big hitters and with their new manager bounce I felt a win could also be a tough ask.

Tom Cannon battles for possession with Norwich City’s Andrew OmobamideleTom Cannon battles for possession with Norwich City’s Andrew Omobamidele
Tom Cannon battles for possession with Norwich City’s Andrew Omobamidele

This proved to be the case as "The Canaries" were definitely on song during the opening stages and soon had our defence in a flap.

Like the world famous huge yellow canary "Big Bird" from Sesame Street, they displayed a wide array of talents and by the half-hour mark had raced into a 3-0 lead.

In the second half, new boys Cannon and Delap had one on one shots saved but in truth Norwich could quite easily have added more goals than the four they scored.

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By the end of the game I was feeling very grumpy like "Oscar The Grouch" another character from the long-running children’s TV series, having seen all my pre match optimism shattered by this comprehensive defeat.

It was also so depressing to see Deepdale virtually empty at the finish but in reality this game was well and truly over as a contest long before the referee blew his final whistle.

The pain was so great that when it was announced over the tannoy that there would only be one minute of injury time it was greeted by some loud sarcastic cheers and came as a huge relief to the shivering masochists like myself who had remained in their seats until the bitter end.

It was another Deepdale game in which our midfield was completely overrun and personally I think that it is a pity we cannot bring back Ben Pearson, or someone like him, who could sit in the middle of the park and break some of this play up, as at the moment our current midfielders do not seem to be able to do this.

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Although it was only our first home league match of the New Year it was our fourth successive home league defeat.

We only managed to win seven out of 25 home league matches in 2022 and Saturday's emphatic defeat just added to this truly appalling statistic.

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