Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 3-1 League Cup first round exit at Luton Town
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Luton Town verdict after the Canaries’ 3-1 League Cup defeat.
1. Cup runs dry
Norwich will feel the final scoreline flattered Luton. But City failed to cash in on their best second half spell and find a way past the Hatters’ stout keeper James Shea.
They also served up the type of defensive laxness that was stamped through their Premier League relegation season, in the defining phase of this first round tie.
To paraphrase Daniel Farke this is not a result to ‘go too deep’ with. City will have a radically different line up on show at Huddersfield for the Championship kick-off.
But if this was a chance for the fringe players to press their claims they failed to cash in. It also prolonged a losing club record competitive run of defeats that needs to be halted swiftly.
A raft of new faces may inject a different feel into the changing room but the mentality and the mindset also need to change. From being written off in the big time, Norwich will now be a prized scalp most weeks.
Luton showed them plenty of respect in how they dropped deep and challenged the Canaries to break them down. They did not have the answers.
They must embrace the expectancy levels around this squad and stamp their authority of the second tier.
2. Bad habits
Different personnel maybe but some nasty traits from last season persisted at Kenilworth Road.
City were again far too soft at set pieces in the main and coughed up cheap concessions for James Collins to seal Luton’s passage with a second half hat-trick.
The arrival of Ben Gibson on a season long loan and Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons still in the building, not to mention player-of-the-year Tim Krul to come back into the defensive mix, certainly adds far more resolve than was on show in this first round cup tie.
City’s title win in 2019 was achieved on a diet of free-flowing, attacking football.
They certainly have the firepower to test plenty of Championship rivals again but Farke needs to add that defensive solidity on a routine basis.
Timm Klose’s second half injury exit appeared to have a debilitating impact on those around him. But as already stated this is now as much about a mindset and a mentality across the entire squad.
Norwich have been too easy to score against for too long on Farke’s watch. They cannot rely on outscoring teams.
3. Martin’s moment?
Cup progress may have been the immediate prize at stake.
But those not quite firmly in Farke’s line of sight were also playing for the far bigger reward of pressing their personal Championship claims.
Josh Martin continued where he had left off in the final pre-season friendlies against SV Darmstadt. There was a brightness and an inventiveness to try and punch holes in a well-drilled Luton defensive shape without the ball.
Martin perhaps should have pulled rank on Dowell and took a tempting 25 yard first half free kick in the same territory as his superb effort against Darmstadt. There is certainly no inferiority complex about the youngster.
Or any trace he lacks the self-belief or confidence he now belongs in this first team mix. Shea denied him in the second period with a fine stop to keep out his low effort nestling inside the near post.
The former Arsenal prospect has some hot competition in wide areas but in Farke he has a coach willing to blood academy talent.
Go back to this stage of last season and Todd Cantwell muscled his way into Farke’s starting line up for the league kick off. It would not be a huge surprise if Martin featured at Huddersfield.
4. Devil in the detail
Bali Mumba will not have been the summer signing that had too many Norwich fans salivating.
Plucked from a rather junior role at Sunderland and identified as another modern attacking full back option you can already see the parallels with how Aarons has blossomed under Farke’s tutelage.
Early days, but Mumba is another like Martin who looks comfortable at his senior level. He had the best chance of the first half with a rising shot that appeared to be tipped over by James Shea.
The referee thought otherwise and awarded a goal kick but it was not an isolated attacking raid.
With Sam Byram missing the league kick off and Aarons inevitably set for further transfer speculation around his future, Mumba’s short term career prospects look healthy.
It might be a stretch at this stage to see him operating in Norwich’s Championship defence but as Farke himself said recently he has already caught the eye.
It might not be too long into the future Mumba could turn out to be one of the best pieces of business from a hectic 2020 close season.
5. No excuses from here
Farke had a point to point out the huge disparity in absent internationals between the two clubs.
Although Norwich’s starting line up was still crammed with plenty of experience and big reputations. Certainly enough not to have folded so compliantly as they did in the second half.
But those internationals will be back for the build up to Huddersfield Town and the Championship kick-off, when this season begins in earnest. Then it will be time to start really judging what is possible for a remodelled squad under a head coach who does not betray any outward signs he feels under pressure to deliver.
But Farke has been backed this summer. As it stands he will also hope City can resist too many offers for their crown jewels between now and the end of the transfer window.
Then the focus will shift firmly to a growing expectation among plenty of Norwich fans Farke has the resource to launch a full on assault on an immediate Premier League return.