There are some occasions in which you can play fast, free-flowing attacking football. These occasions are usually accompanied by bright sunshine, proceeded by a prequel of confidence boosting consecutive wins and come against a team either ‘on the beach’ or vastly inferior in quality.
On other occasions, a more robust, stop-start affair is in order. Typically, when a pitch is hard and boggy, the opposition is ‘agricultural’ in their approach, or it’s simply just a cold, rainy night in Stoke.
Another time to play a more disciplined game is when your two previous league results have been 4-2 and 4-0 away defeats.
Daniel Farke had undoubtedly spent the international break drilling his side to be more defensively resolute, more solid and less mentally weak. What he got was a far more solid display from his players, which while not as pretty on the eye, restricted Birmingham to just one shot on target, achieved a second clean sheet of the season, and most importantly put three big points on the board for Norwich City.
A different mindset?..
From the moment the team sheet was revealed on social media it was apparent that this was to be a more solid canaries side. Alex Tettey came back into contention following the club’s refusal to let him out on loan on deadline day. Alongside him, Tom Trybull filled a second defensive midfield role.
It was also perhaps telling that of the players away on international duty only the now undroppable Nelson Oliviera was included in the starting XI. Farke had clearly been busy at Colney during the break and trusted the players he had worked with over the proceeding fortnight to best carry out his instructions.
The return of big Timm Klose was massive at the back, bringing organisation and an ability to head a football to the side. He even managed to get an assist – Nelson Oliviera keeping up his great scoring record by getting a stud to the defender’s cross-cum-shot. As the Swiss himself has suggested Farke has challenged him to be a leader on the pitch, perhaps a sign of the German’s man management skills at work.
Incidentally, Ivo Pinto was the man given the armband for the match. With Tettey also having previously led the side, perhaps we’re finally starting to see the leaders on the pitch absent for so long.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
With Tettey and Trybull shielding the back four, the holes so often often exposed by Millwall and Villa were plugged. Tettey’s more physical style in particular was important, winning headers and breaking up Birmingham attacks before they reached the final third. Trybull looks a solid 7/10 every week type of player. Utility man Marco Stiepermann has the physical attributes to be a success in the English second tier, even if his defending is at times suspect.
On more than one occasion he was bailed out by his winger – one Joshua Murphy. This was one of the young stars best games for the Canaries, with the signs being that the penny may finally have dropped for the Wembley born wideman. His final decision making was still suspect at times, but the glowing praise from Norwich fans was echoed by opposition manager Harry Redknapp.
And he knows a player when he sees one.
If Josh can step up in the way his brother did last year, then Norwich might have another multi-million pound asset on their hands. Murphy can only excel when the players behind him are solid however. Saturday’s improved solidity must continue if Norwich intend to challenge at the top end of the table.
Like Murphy, for Norwich the tools are all there. Now they need to use them.
Is a win value for money?.. 💷
I was unable to attend the match on Saturday, an evening engagement meaning I couldn’t attend the match and get back from Norwich in time. My old man did go through and was less than impressed by the performance, even if he was delighted with the three points.
His debriefing was that it was a ‘scrappy, boring game’.
Having listened to the match on Radio Norfolk and seen the highlights it would definitely seem (a fact backed up by my hitherto unimpressed father) that Norwich could easily have won 3 or 4 nil.
Would that then have represented entertainment?
Is it right that we demand goals and free flowing football for our £500+ investment in a season ticket each year? Certainly had Chris Hughton remained in the role much longer (and not adapted his defensive philosophy) there would have been two less season ticket holders a few seasons ago.
Back then my old man and I chose on occasion to watch our local side rather than a dull and uninspiring Norwich team. On Saturday evening, the event I attended was a Proms in the Park concert at Ickworth Hall. The music was provided by the Bury Concert Band. It was never going to be as grand as the concurrent concert taking place at the Royal Albert Hall, but tickets were only £10, miles away from the up to £100 entrance fees for the real event.
As such, I was able to forgive a few split notes and a misfiring cannon.
It’s all about expectation, you see.
Maybe, as EDP journalist Michael Bailey commented, we’ve been spoilt at Carrow Road in recent times. We were the highest scoring side at home in The Championship last season after all.
Maybe we shouldn’t be demanding such elan to go with our wins. Maybe we should. That’s a debate that for most people will run and run. (Though not, of course, for Alan ‘I often wonder what they expect down there’ Shearer.)
On Saturday though all that mattered was the three points. Three more against Burton tomorrow night and maybe the free flowing football will return against newly-promoted Sheffield United on Saturday.
Along with the sunshine ☀️ .