Two goals from Watford’s Danny Graham brought Championship new boys Norwich back down to earth at Carrow Road on the opening day of the season. John Eustace gave the Hornets the lead when he fired in low from Don Cowie’s looping ball before Graham then doubled the advantage with a sidefooted finish Norwich hit back through Andrew Crofts’ 18-yard drive but Graham restored the two-goal cushion with a guided effort. Defender Michael Nelson swept in during injury time but Watford held on.
Carrow Road was packed to the rafters as the Norwich fans hoped to see their side maintain their momentum from last season’s title triumph but Watford were worthy winners. Not only were they solid at the back, with Adrian Mariappa providing excellent support alongside the experienced Martin Taylor, they also impressed on the ball, with Graham scoring his first goal after linking superbly with young strike partner Marvin Sordell.
The domestic season began at Carrow Road on Friday night, and a sense of déjà vu permeated the Norfolk air. A year ago Norwich started the season with a 7-1 thrashing and lost their manager. While the size of defeat was not as huge, the portents for newly-promoted Norwich were just as worrying.
Watford have modelled their new away strip on the famous red-and-black stripes of Milan, and there were times last night, particularly in the first half, that Norwich were so poor Malky Mackay’s young team were almost made to resemble the Rossoneri in action as well as appearance.
And who saw that coming, frankly, because I have to say I didn’t. No, Norwich weren’t perfect; even at nil-nil in what emerged as an open start to a very open first half, City were leaving all sorts of gaps as they attacked… Elliott Ward looked pretty much just as I’d remembered him playing for Coventry. And they were slow to the ball, ponderous. But stuff it, we won 3-2 away from home on the opening day against a team who should have been flying, you take it any way it comes.
No 100- The script was written. Norwich City, the division’s new boys, had won the League One title in a manner that had the experts cooing. Now, Paul Lambert, the Canaries’ manager and the latest cause célèbre, was ready to make an impression in The Championship. Watford were in the grip of yet another financial crisis. Favourites for relegation. Again. With a squad described as ‘threadbare and painfully inexperienced’ by The Guardian.