Norwich bow out with a whimper following defeat at Everton
Norwich City went out with a whimper, losing 3-0 on Sunday in an instantly forgettable Premier League finale at Everton.
The Canaries slumped to defeat that was entirely predictable once James McCarthy had thumped the Toffees in front. Leighton Baines rolled home a cool penalty before the interval and the match was over as a meaningful contest when Kevin Mirallas was left unmarked at the far post three minutes after the restart.
For Norwich, it is less about what happened on the pitch at Goodison Park than Alex Neil's postmatch assertion he will stay and lead the fightback following relegation. City have had four days to come to terms with their return to the Football League but the questions surrounding Neil's future had yet to be definitely answered. Neil will hold further talks with the club's owners on Monday but he expects to spearhead the Canaries' bid to return at the first attempt.
It now looks inevitable a number of those under his command will not embark on the same journey. The likes of Nathan Redmond and Robbie Brady are sure to be in demand, while running parallel to their potential summer exits will be a turnover designed to freshen up a squad which has looked increasingly stale in a tame end to their Premier League season.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK John Ruddy, 6 -- Two flying saves to deny Romelu Lukaku in the early exchanges. No chance with McCarthy's thumping strike and left exposed two other times by the men in front of him.
DF Ivo Pinto, 6 -- Aggressive in the challenge and ambitious going forward, with a number of overlapping bursts.
DF Russell Martin, 5 -- Turned on more than one occasion by Everton's youth brigade.
DF Ryan Bennett, 5 -- Harassed by Lukaku in the air and on the ground. Only lasted a few minutes after the interval before his exit, with what may have been the aftereffects of a recent viral infection.
DF Martin Olsson, 5 -- Lasted only 10 minutes before picking up a groin injury that must be a concern ahead of the Swedish international's bid to be part of his country's Euro 2016 campaign.
MF Nathan Redmond, 5 -- If this was his last Norwich City outing, it will be far less memorable than his starring role a few days earlier against Watford.
MF Gary O'Neil, 6 -- Nearly cut Gareth Barry in two with a fully committed tackle but the game had long since gone.
MF Graham Dorrans, 5 -- Second best against Everton's midfield mix of youth and experience. Ran the show against Watford but a bystander here.
MF Matt Jarvis, 5 -- Horrible sliced effort in the first half but did test Tim Howard at his near post following the interval.
MF Steven Naismith, 5 -- Great reception from the Everton fans prior to kick-off for a returning hero. Norwich's supporters have only seen glimpses of his quality and it was the same again in this game.
FW Cameron Jerome, 5 -- Headed at Howard from seven yards out, seconds before Everton's opening goal.
MF Robbie Brady, 5 -- Conceded a penalty when he was adjudged to have manhandled Lukaku.
DF Seb Basssong, 5 -- Planted a late header over from Nathan Redmond's corner.
MF Wes Hoolahan, N/R -- No real impact.
Paddy is the chief Norwich City correspondent for media group Archant. He has covered the Canaries for more than 10 years. Twitter: @paddyjdavitt.