Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 4-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester United

PUBLISHED: 17:14 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 22:20 11 January 2020

Marcus Rashford opens his account in Manchester United's 4-0 Premier League win against Norwich City 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Marcus Rashford opens his account in Manchester United's 4-0 Premier League win against Norwich City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Manchester United verdict after the Canaries’ 4-0 Premier League thumping at Old Trafford.

1. Look closer to home

This will be packaged outside the borders of Norfolk as Manchester United on one of their better days in recent times.

Marcus Rashford was again too hot to handle for a Norwich backline, Juan Mata teased the Canaries' midfield at will and Anthony Martial gave Adam Idah a very close up lesson in what it takes to lead the line at the highest level. Not to mention his peer, Mason Greenwood, with a fine fourth to seal the rout.

But those in green and yellow, including Daniel Farke, will know they offered far too much encouragement to the hosts. There was a lack of belief for long spells, in the first half especially a carelessness in possession, and then a game-defining abdication of responsibility twice in two second half minutes shortly after the restart.

Forget the bigger picture for a moment, it is very rare on Farke's watch since arriving at Carrow Road you could accuse his players of raising the white flag. City looked like a team who never really believed this was possible once they fell behind.

Perhaps the unending grind of Premier League combat is starting to bite. But too many looked like they felt this was above and beyond them. Maybe it is.

2. Steep learning curve, Adam

It might not feel like it in the aftermath but Idah can look back on this special day with pride. The teenager may have owed his elevation to injuries for Teemu Pukki and Josip Drmic, but Farke is not a coach who dispenses 'gifts' to use his terminology.

Idah's FA Cup heroics merited a full Premier League debut.

In truth, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire - two seasoned internationals - dispensed some harsh lessons to Norwich's lone frontman. Albeit it must also be said there was precious little of the type of service Marco Stiepermann served up in large portions at Preston.

Nevertheless, it marked another huge step forward in the young Cork forward's fledgling career. Manchester United know a thing or two about blooding raw talent.

If he goes on to have the career Farke believes he is capable of then Old Trafford could be the perfect Premier League starting point.

3. A script with the same ending

It is becoming increasingly clear Norwich's Premier League adventure will be defined by their conduct in the key moments; those pivotal spells in games at the highest level that ultimately turn promising periods into productivity.

Set aside a chronic early season injury crisis or even contentious brushes with the VAR system, and too often Norwich have fallen short in too many of those passages.

So it was at Old Trafford.

City had resisted and protected Tim Krul with no huge alarms until Mata veered easily around Todd Cantwell and Rashford ran between Max Aarons and Christoph Zimmermann.

Cantwell might point to a wonderful stop from David De Gea just before the interval but it was City's charitable penalty concession and then lack of concentration at a quickly taken corner that effectively sealed their fate.

For the same questions to be asked this far into the season suggests perhaps not a failure to assimilate lessons, more there is not enough collective quality to change the gloomy narrative.

4. Hardcore Hanley

There will have to be a response to a heavy away defeat the Theatre of 'Dreams'. But whether Grant Hanley is fit to face Bournemouth at Carrow Road must already be a question mark.

Hanley had really defied expectations with the consistency of his performance and the number of consecutive minutes since returning from a three-and-a-half month injury layoff before the festive period.

But this was the game when the unrelenting toil appeared to catch up with the big Scottish centre back.

Hanley needed Krul to help with cramp relief midway through the second half, and then departed 10 minutes from the end, hobbling to the touchline after further treatment.

It was a sad, slow trudge that summed up Norwich's sorry display. Ben Godfrey is poised to return to training next week after his own knee issue. But it would be a big ask to throw him straight back in.

Farke may have to spend the next few days fending off those familiar injury questions around his dwindling central defensive stocks.

5. Bournemouth and the bigger picture

City's loyal away support hailed Farke at the final whistle as he waved to the massed ranks. His players paid homage as well as the rain lashed across Old Trafford.

But after this defeat there will be even less people who fancy Farke or his troops to engineer a great escape.

In reality, anything from the Red Devils looked a tall order - for all their struggles to recapture former glories. Nevertheless it will be a huge task to change the mood music ahead of Bournemouth's visit to Carrow Road.

Norwich need more than one signature win now as the gap remains oppressively big to the clubs above the relegation zone. With games running out they need to make a statement. The Cherries host Watford on Sunday. That looks a major collision for both clubs.

Should Bournemouth fail to check the growing momentum of Nigel Pearson's Hornets then Carrow Road next weekend will not be a place for the faint-hearted. City will not face the same attacking quality as they did against the Reds, but that is largely immaterial now.

If they are to prolong this fight it has to come from within.

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