Norwich City Report Card: Dennis is still to prove he can menace
His first toes dipped in the Championship water will have given Dennis Srbeny a decent idea just how deep it is. Our penultimate Norwich City end of season report card has MICHAEL BAILEY wondering what the striker now needs to deliver.
There were smiles all round as Dennis Srbeny slotted his volley between Sam Johnstone’s legs, to give Norwich City a two-goal cushion against Aston Villa at Carrow Road in front of the Sky cameras.
Nine games and five starts since he made a mid-season switch from the German third tier, simply notching a goal in the EFL Championship was a significant achievement – alongside getting his move in the first place.
Everyone wanted more of the same before the season ended of course, but two more starts from five more outings ensured there can only be a realistic appraisal of where Srbeny finds himself – and what happens next.
Age is certainly a factor worth noting first. Having turned 24 just last month, the current formative situation for City’s latest striker recruit should bring time, patience and an appreciation that writing anyone off is to immediately underestimate them.
On the flip side is the fact that at £1m, the Paderborn forward cost more than most of City’s acquisitions last summer; a nod to the Canaries’ hope that Srbeny will eventually prove to be worth the time and effort.
On the pitch, there was no hiding the jump Srbeny was having to make – and the fact he was making it in public, halfway through the season.
There were good moments of link-up play and enough to see Srbeny’s ability when given a little bit of time, support and space. Likewise, the Championship rarely offers up such luxuries easily – and all too often the opponents’ pressure and game’s tempo were too much to deal with.
A lack of movement and intelligent running was disappointing, while a shortage of clear-cut chances was more symptomatic of City’s struggles – albeit the statistics will suggest a deficit of conversion rather than creation.
That’s not to say Srbeny won’t be able to improve all this – some of the same failings came with a few other recent City recruits from beyond the English Channel.
That’s not to say he won’t be able to in future – the same failings came with a few other recent City recruits from beyond the English Channel.
Therefore his performances come next season, with a full pre-season schedule and even a little run of games, should begin to offer something more insightful than his first handful of Championship forays.
In a way, City’s exposed attacking options last season did Srbeny few favours.
The inconsistencies in Nelson Oliveira’s efforts – plus the occasional misdemeanour that left him out of contention – meant Srbeny more exposed than would have been wished, while Josh Murphy and Marley Watkins offered little in terms of central striker competition.
In that environment, it’s probably worth appreciating how Srbeny was thrown into the deep end and still managed to keep himself just about afloat.
The demands will rise again next season and in customary brutal football fashion, one of Norwich City’s big summer aims in the forthcoming window will be to basically ensure Srbeny is not as exposed come August – maybe not even required as often.
But in the Canaries’ current climate, they will feel they have far more still to gain from having Dennis Srbeny in the building and learning his trade – and he will feel likewise for being here.
We all hope next season offers the evidence to back it up.
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