Following a good start to October, City’s home failings and defensive mistakes have returned to haunt them in the latter part of the month. Yes, there are contributing factors – injuries to a small squad and fatigue being the two main ones – but there’s no denying they on Tuesday they were outclassed by a table-topping Wolves side. It’s not all bad, but there are some worrying signs…
Let’s start with the positives. Daniel Farke has moulded a team who try. They try hard. For themselves. For each other. And for the fans.
It’s a togetherness and collective effort which was seemingly absent at times last term. True, Cameron Jerome has never shirked a challenge in all the time he’s been at the club. For all Russell Martin’s failings in recent times, a lack of application was not the cause. Even John Ruddy, who lined up against his former club on Tuesday, always showed he cared. But some of the others…
Johnny Howson and Graham Dorrans were both apparently eager to leave in the summer. Their reasons understandably family motivated, but those feelings must have been there at times last season too. Stephen Naismith doesn’t outwardly appear to have settled in Norfolk. Martin Olsson always appeared to give his all, but clearly wanted back to the Premier League. As did one man still at the club – Timm Klose.
Here is where Farke has worked his magic the most. By giving more responsibility to the Swiss, and indeed his defensive teammate Ivo Pinto, the Head Coach has instilled a fighting spirit in the two.
But for Klose’s body being thrown in the way multiple times, and last-ditch tackles from Ivo and Grant Hanley, Wolves could have won this game by more.
Sure, City conceded two goals. But this was not the defensive horror show from earlier in the season. Rather a tired and depleted side coming up against one of the better teams in the league.
Hopefully just a case of bad timing…
I mentioned in a very early blog that a possession-based philosophy would divide the support at Carrow Road. And it is. Well around me certainly…
There are moans about any pass that goes sideways or backwards, complaints about any considered build up. Then again any long ball that doesn’t reach its target is criticised too.
To my mind, there’s one simple way to increase the amount of forward passes. Add Wes Hoolahan to the mix. As mentioned before on this blog, the man in front of me doesn’t appreciate little Wes. His reason: ‘yeah but how many assists has he got?’.
So I’ve looked up the answer. It’s 65 my friend, including 2 this season. That’s the same amount as James Maddison has this campaign. One more than Josh Murphy and Mario Vrancic, and two more than Yanic Wildschut.
In his career, he’s assisted or scored a goal at a rate of one every 2.8 games. That’s not bad. According to the official Canaries website, he’s played 30 key passes in his 11 games this season. Maddison 28. Our 20-year-old prodigy himself respects the #master. Maybe the man in front should take note.
What is undebatable is that something is missing from this Norwich side. The spark Messi brings to Barcelona, Coutinho to Liverpool. While we’re hoping the return of Alex Pritchard will provide this piece of magic, maybe, for now, our 35-year-old master can carry the mantle.
End Product ❌
This lack of an end product makes some good attacking play look poor. A cross straight out of play, an overhit final pass or one that never comes, bringing patient build-ups to an abrupt end.
Conversely, Wolves looked a threat every time they came forward. No. 7 Ivan Cavaleiro and on loan Athletico Madrid superstar Diogo Jota caused no end of problems to the home side. The pair will not have come cheap though. Cavaleiro cost a reported £7 million. As Farke said before the game, Wolves’ approach is in total contrast to the Canaries more cautious outlook.
Given the state of the finances announced this week, it’s an approach that is prudent. But can it be successful?…