Paddy Davitt verdict: Bullish. Obdurate. Resilient. Remind you of another Norwich City era?
PUBLISHED: 16:21 14 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:32 14 January 2018
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Nostalgia need not be the preserve of the romantics. There is something ‘Lambertesque’ in the resilience of Daniel Farke’s young men.
Obdurate even. Two vastly different personalities, but City’s former Scottish boss would have admired the manner his latest successor plotted Bristol City’s downfall against the odds.
The pre-match vibes were worrying, given the sale of a talented midfielder in Alex Pritchard and the injury absence of another in Tom Trybull.
Farke cut a composed, diplomatic figure on Friday but as he himself said, what coach would be willing to lose a technician of Pritchard’s quality?
The financial reality impinges on every decision Farke, sporting director Stuart Webber and the club’s board take.
But it is the German who has to look around a depleted changing room and find a way.
It is the players still here who have to put the departure of Pritchard and the absence of Trybull to one side and for 90-odd minutes, find a way.
Bristol City may have stumbled of late, they may have endured a gruelling midweek assignment at Manchester City in the League Cup, but it still felt like a daunting prospect.
The energy, the vibrancy, the expectation was tangible in the air in that part of the West Country.
You look around the magnificent, modern surroundings of Ashton Gate and you a sense a club going places.
Depending on which parts of social media you opt to frequent, the Canaries are stagnant, weighed down by financial pressure and dealing with the toxic currents from bygone recruitment decisions.
But there is hope. There is something to cling to.
The challenges will keep on coming.
Anyone who thinks the Pritchard scenario will not be played out on a much bigger scale with James Maddison is naïve. If it is not in what remains of this transfer window, it will be in the summer.
There is enough disturbance around the futures of Nelson Oliveira, Cameron Jerome, Steven Naismith and Russell Martin to indicate the focus will continue to shift away from the pitch in the short term.
What City’s fan base want now is reinforcements.
What Farke wants now is reinforcements. You can be sure what those players - who manfully repelled the Robins at both ends of the pitch - want is reinforcements.
This was another triumph in adversity.
The same template and the same DNA that prevailed at Sheffield United, Reading, Middlesbrough and Ipswich.
But the head coach and his squad are over-performing on this five-game unbeaten run. Injuries and suspensions will bite.
Whatever the allure of an FA Cup midweek assignment at Chelsea, there must be an inevitable fear it carries the potential for a detrimental by-product when the feisty Chris Wilder brings his Blades to Carrow Road.
But to win in such testing terrain at the end of a week the understated Farke labelled ‘difficult’ ensures both upcoming tasks will be attacked with relish.
There is a cohesive core to City’s play now. Grant Hanley is firmly established at the heart of a backline which can rely on Angus Gunn to produce a breathtaking intervention.
The flying parry to foil Josh Brownhill was the save of a keeper destined for the top.
The athleticism, the anticipation deserved all the plaudits his team mates and coach bestowed. Ivo Pinto and Jamal Lewis raid forward with greater protection. Alex Tettey’s play borders on the possessed.
The Norwegian is defying age and miles on the clock to knit together a midfield now shorn of Pritchard and, for the time being, Trybull.
Mario Vrancic will never offer the same defensive insurance but the raking crossfield pass at the feet of Pinto at the sharp end of a flowing match-winning move underlined his class in the right areas.
Yet another optimistic outing fails to disguise the concern at the top end of the pitch.
Oliveira appears bereft of confidence. The manner he choked his best chance told a story.
Jerome’s on going back problem suggest alternatives must be a matter of urgency.
Farke knows that. He reiterated on Friday it is City’s transfer priority. Pritchard’s exit weakens Farke’s hand. But there are still plenty of building blocks in place.
The nature of Norwich’s controlled victory at Ashton Gate should counter the feeling the club is on an inexorable downward spiral.
Yet the speed of Pritchard’s departure, and the negativity it unleashed, should serve as a warning.
City have to get this right between now and th end of the transfer window or tangible progress will stall.
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt on the following channels…