Norwich City (H) | Whittaker's Reaction
A Morgan Whittaker hat-trick helped Argyle on their way to a remarkable 6-2 win over Norwich City on Saturday, as the Greens bounced back in stunning fashion.
Argyle went into the game on the back of a 4-1 defeat at Bristol City, but put on their best performance of the season to blow away a highly fancied Norwich team, who found themselves four goals down at half-time.
Whittaker had scored two of those, and he added his third to not only claim the match ball, but to put his side 5-0 up. Norwich pulled two back, before Luke Cundle put some icing on an already tasty cake.
On the afternoon, no-one could hold a candle to Whittaker, who scored his first of the afternoon with a delicate finish into the bottom corner – a product of the diligence of the Argyle backroom staff.
“We looked at the defending clips before the game,” said Morgan, “and we noticed that their defenders sometimes blocked the eye-line of the goalkeeper, so we knew to use them, and the keeper wouldn't have a clear sight of it until late. I think that showed on, especially in my first two goals.
“It wasn't the cleanest connection on the first one, but because you couldn't see it, it still went in.”
Morgan’s second – Argyle’s third – was a classic effort, Whittaker drifting in from flank and lashing home.
Before he scored his third, he was provided with a chance by Finn Azaz, as Argyle broke forward early in the second period, but was thwarted by Canaries keeper Angus Gunn. Not long afterwards, Azaz provided another opportunity, and this time Whittaker made no mistake.
“The second one is what I like doing, opening up on my left foot and using the defenders,” he said.
“Especially in the Championship, I think you don't know when you're going to get a chance like that again, but I knew going forward in the second half that I'd get another chance because of how we'd been playing.
“[For the third goal] I could see it the whole way, so I was thinking ‘please just get a good connection on it’!
“You can get quite in your head and a bit stressed out about not scoring, then it can all change, and now I'm on four goals. I scored one on opening day, and I've been waiting to get another one since then. I think it's just sticking with it and knowing that one game can change a lot in this career and in this game.
“[I enjoyed seeing] how happy everyone was once we got the goal. It was a real team performance, and it's one that we owed the fans after Tuesday.
“I think they were right to feel how they felt after Tuesday. it was up to us to put on a good performance. Even before we put this performance on, the crowd was so important, they were cheering us on and they've helped us so much, so a lot of credit goes to them.”
Argyle changed their shape for the game, playing in a 3-4-3 formation akin to how they played for most of last season’s Sky Bet League One title-winning campaign.
This meant Whittaker was still playing on the right side of a front three, but was starting from a more infield position in a front trio comprising himself, Azaz and Ryan Hardie.
“I quite like it because I'm more involved,” said Morgan. “I'm more inside the pitch, closer to Ryan and Finn. I think that relationship that me, Finn and Ry have got, especially going forward, we know where we want to be and that's shown today.
“We can link up. Sometimes I'm out wide in the system we've been playing before and it's sometimes hard to get the space. When I'm in the middle, I think I'm a lot more involved.”
The victory puts Argyle on 10 points from their first eight games. The previous seven had seen four defeats, three of which had come in games when the Greens had played well, but not the results and points their performances had probably merited.
In some ways, an emphatic victory such as this had been coming, although it came via the slight detour of the loss at Ashton Gate.
“We're absolutely buzzing,” said Whittaker. “I think everyone knew how Tuesday went and how it wasn't good on all parts.
“To get a 6-2 win at home against Norwich, who are a really, really good team and should be up and around the top six, is massive.
“You have to pay respect to teams like Norwich, they are good on the ball and they can cause you problems. We used our shape well and then countered on them.
“In the last few weeks we've been saying that we've been getting the chances, but they've been getting blocked or we've not been clinical.
“I feel like one of these games has been coming. Today we've been clinical on all the chances. I don't know how many shots we've had today, but I feel like the most of them were on target and if not went in. We can take that forward going into the next game.”