Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 0-0 Premier League draw at Newcastle United
PUBLISHED: 22:26 01 February 2020 | UPDATED: 22:26 01 February 2020
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Newcastle United verdict after the Canaries’ 0-0 Premier League draw.
1. Poster result
If Norwich City do return to the Football League in one regressive bounce, they should remember afternoons like this one.
For it demonstrated not perhaps the Canaries are well short of what is required. But they are frustratingly close to harnessing the elements required to pick up results in the top flight.
But that will be cold comfort if the worst fears are confirmed in the coming weeks. Norwich had 20 shots in total against Newcastle.
They mustered four on target. Martin Dubravka may not have known a huge amount about the Sam Byram header that struck him from point blank range early on, but it seemed to sum up City's attacking efforts.
Again, it is hard to be ultra critical given it was the home fans who booed their disapproval at the final whistle. That was a back-handed compliment.
But the body language of the City coaching staff told the real story. A massive missed opportunity.
2. Clinical inefficiency
Daniel Farke highlighted a trait he admired in Steve Bruce's Magpies prior to the game. Their ability not to worry about style points but to make the utmost from their entries into the opponent's box.
He cited the recent St James' Park win over Chelsea as a prime example. But if that was a message designed to be received by his own players it got lost in translation.
City have carved out stacks of chances in the Premier League.
It is why the numbers for the likes of Emi Buendia compare favourably with some of the very best top flight operators. But in the statistics that matter they have been found wanting. It was the same here.
The lack of a gambler's instinct to make a run into the box, to anticipate the bounce of a second ball or a fortunate rebound was lacking.
We saw it at Burnley in how Josip Drmic continued his run to apply a simple finish for that FA Cup winner. But the same collective trait was absent in the north-east.
3. Right selection?
Farke opted to retain faith in the same XI who performed so encouragingly at Tottenham in the last Premier League outing. That meant a place on the bench for the fit-again Buendia.
The Argentine was eventually introduced and only Farke and his medical staff know whether he was unable to do the full 90 minutes after his recent quad problems.
In his post-match press call, the City chief hinted Todd Cantwell's extra sharpness in training got him the nod.
But in a game where Newcastle retreated and formed roadblocks it was crying out for a final clever decision, or that piece of invention.
Buendia himself has a case to answer, given he is yet to open his own Premier League goal account. But bar one raking pass for Onel Hernandez in stoppage time, his late cameo was an exercise in frustration.
4. State of play
Well it does not look any better than it did at kick-off. Infact, Norwich slipped a point further from safety given results elsewhere. Farke maintains it is about the performance levels and the rest will take care of itself. But that looks increasingly a forlorn hope.
The performance overall was again full of merit and positive dimensions. But the result, a point and a clean sheet, are simply slim rations now.
One thing you would say, and it is to the eternal credit of Farke and his players, there is no hint of resignation or raising the white flag.
They know better than any the situation looks increasingly beyond them but there are plenty of examples from Premier League seasons past of clubs retreating to the Championship in a sorry state. That is not an accusation you can ever level at this group.
5. Winter warmer
Whether City want to be participants in the Premier League's first mid-winter break is a moot point.
To sit and reflect both on this result and their league status for a fortnight can be sliced either way. But when they return they face the daunting prospect of runaway leaders Liverpool at Carrow Road.
Probably best to park how you possibly can halt the likes of Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino for a few days. But that is the equation from here. There are echoes of when Neil Adams took temporary charge in 2013/14 and a pulsating 3-2 home defeat to Brendan Rodgers' Reds.
That was a rip-snorter at Carrow Road. It will take that and more to try and become the first team in English league football this season to halt the Liverpool juggernaunt. And we all know what the final outcome was that time around.