Norwich learn harsh lessons of Premier League
Most football experts agree that if promoted teams are to avoid relegation from the Premier League then they need to beat other sides whose main aim is to avoid the drop.
That is why, after an encouraging start against Wigan, Stoke and Chelsea, Norwich's 1-0 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion on Sunday is a setback for the Canaries.
They may have edged possession and dominated territorial advantage but, for all their good build-up play, Paul Lambert's side managed only three shots on target.
West Brom battered Norwich with nine shots on target, including Peter Odemwingie's winner. Photo: Getty
"Norwich played quite well but ultimately West Brom looked a lot more effective with Peter Odemwingie up front," says Match of the Day 2 pundit Lee Dixon. "The Norwich defence could not really cope with him in first half. He pulled centre-backs Leon Barnett and Ritchie De Laet all over the place and Norwich did not have anyone in a similar vein.
"I've watched Norwich a couple of times. Forwards Chris Martin and Grant Holt are both energetic and run the channels but they lack a bit of extra zip that someone like Odemwingie possesses.
"His pace affects the opposition's back four because it gets them thinking of the threat in behind, whereas teams playing Norwich are not necessarily going to get hurt the same way. It just looked like they lacked a bit of pace to stretch the game at times."
No more was that in evidence than when Odemwingie scored what proved to be the winner after only three minutes. He cut in from the right to latch onto Nicky Shorey's long pass and intercepted De Laet's poor header.
Conversely, says Dixon, Roy Hodgson's defence did not have the same worries and were able to step up, therefore winning the ball back higher up the pitch.
Lambert achieved much of his success in the Championship last year by using a diamond formation. At times on Sunday, wide midfielders Elliott Bennett and Andrew Surman tucked in allowing full-backs Kyle Naughton and Marc Tierney to get forward.
Tierney, in particular, was one of the game's outstanding performers, sending in a succession of crosses from high up the pitch. However, his forays forward meant Norwich's centre-backs were further exposed to defence-splitting passes.
That is something that could cost them dearly against better teams but Lambert has already shown his tactical flexibility by picking three centre-backs against Chelsea.
What may concern the Scottish manager more is the fact that Norwich have now conceded a penalty in each of their four Premier League games this season.
Even though goalkeeper Declan Rudd saved Odemwingie's spot-kick on his full debut, the way in which Steve Morison tangled with Steven Reid suggested that the Canaries need to be more careful. There was minimal contact - and it looked like Reid fooled referee Mark Halsey - but Dixon believes Norwich to re-think their approach.
"I thought Reid made a meal of it and went down very easily but it's not a coincidence that they have given four penalties away," says Dixon. "The keeper got sent off the other week against Chelsea and those through balls into that area where Odemwingie scored from lead to desperate tackles on the edge of the box. It's a discipline thing - knowing when to tackle and when to sit off.
"Players are aware that forwards are going to ground more easily these days. If I was playing, that would be in my mind, so it must be in theirs. As a defender, you have to try to keep them out of the box, which was always at the forefront of our minds when we were defending at Arsenal, because any sort of foul is not as punishing."
Lambert will look to address these issues before the next game against Bolton. Norwich then face Sunderland and Manchester United before hosting Swansea on 15 October.
The former Wycombe manager, who took his coaching badges in Germany, is known as a supreme motivator and has been likened to ex-Celtic boss Martin O'Neill, whom he played for at Parkhead.
The 42-year-old has certainly seen signs his team can cope, telling BBC Sport after the West Brom game: "If they keep playing like that, they will be fine. There's no doubt they are playing well enough to win games.
"We're creating things, which is important, but we can't start the way we did [on Sunday] and try to claw it back. It's difficult enough when its 0-0."
Dixon, however, believes there needs to be significant improvement.
"Certainly in the games I've seen so far, they've shown signs they can knock ball around well. They can get it wide and cause teams problems," he says. "But ultimately they've got to score more goals and keep them out at the other end.
"At the moment, they are losing that fight."