Paddy Davitt verdict: That's that then. Or is it?

PUBLISHED: 15:20 22 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:58 23 December 2019

Emi Buendia was a constant threat for Norwich City in a 2-1 Premier League defeat to Wolves 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Emi Buendia was a constant threat for Norwich City in a 2-1 Premier League defeat to Wolves Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Norwich City and the Premier League. A work in progress or a ceiling reached?

Narrow the sample to events since a merited 2-0 away win at Everton and it is a conflicting jumble of uplifting moments jarring with cold reality.

It is not too far of a stretch to say Norwich were the dominant force for a half each against Southampton, Sheffield United and now Wolves. Yet they failed to pick up a single point.

They have failed to pick up a single point from a losing position in the Premier League all season.

That might prompt questions about character or a lack of leadership; a tolerance to resist adversity.

Were it not for the simple fact the vast bulk of this squad exhibited those traits on the glorious march to the Championship title.

Kenny McLean rues a missed opportunity against WolvesKenny McLean rues a missed opportunity against Wolves

What has changed is the height of the bar, the quality of the opponent and the relentless, unforgiving nature of the Premier League.

That injury backdrop also remains prevalent, with Ben Godfrey the latest key frontline defender missing from duty.

Grant Hanley's display after three-and-a-half months of inactivity was nothing short of remarkable. Emi Buendia shone as brightly as he ever had done before in a Norwich shirt. But it was still not enough.

It has not been enough too often this season.

That is why Norwich head to Aston Villa on Boxing Day if not in the 'Last Chance Saloon' then tethering the horse outside.

Injured Norwich City centre back Ben Godfrey looks on at Carrow Road Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdInjured Norwich City centre back Ben Godfrey looks on at Carrow Road Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The gap to safety looks vast, and should ailing Villa inflict another defeat to aid their own survival cause the leap will appear cavernous.

But only if you are measuring this phase of Norwich's development though the filter of Premier League survival come next May.

Daniel Farke himself added an interesting slant to his post-match media as he sought to process how such a dominant first half against a team on the up left his side even further adrift in the lowest recesses of the Premier League.

City's head coach made it clear if he was addicted only to the league table he would not have rushed to sign a new Carrow Road contract.

He has spoken publicly about how promotion was achieved well ahead of his own timeframe to put this club on a sustainable footing for the 'mid-to-long' term. You hear the same mantra from sporting director Stuart Webber, when it comes to a circumspect approach in every transfer window since his arrival.Firstly out of stark financial necessity and, moving forward, a desire not to go back to that dark place again on his watch.

Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki could find no way past Wolves' keeper Rui Patricio Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City striker Teemu Pukki could find no way past Wolves' keeper Rui Patricio Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich have reaped the multi-million pound benefits from Premier League promotion but increasingly it would appear this top flight tilt has come too soon for the majority of those who got them there.

Some have already fell by the wayside as options capable of consistent performances at this highest level.

Others are still to find their feet.

But it really needs to happen right here, right now or the second part of the campaign will be a twin track approach of Premier League combat and Football League preparations; with all the attendant sub-plots to a squad which can reasonably expect to lose some of its best young talent. Maybe even a striker who had a rare off day against Wolves but has proven to be Premier League quality.

If you take a step back from the elusive hunt for points and defensive solidity from set pieces then Norwich is surely a club heading in the right direction.

There is enough evidence over last season and this to suggest they could come back in better shape on and off the park; from a stronger financial base and armed with all the good and bad experiences of this first brush with the big time under Farke and Webber.

One need only glance at the rapid acceleration between Farke's debut season of mid-table toil to a Championship title win to demonstrate the speed of change. But that is for the future.

A Boxing Day trip to Villa Park marks the halfway point of this campaign.

Norwich deserved much more against Wolves but one point from six Carrow Road games is relegation form.

Yet given Villa also lost 3-1 at home to Southampton, and have lost John McGinn for three months with a broken ankle, all the pressure and expectation must hang heavy on Dean Smith's expensively-assembled ensemble.

There is still ample opportunity to harvest points over the second half of this season of discovery and produce 90-minute displays, That is the minimum now to take City's fight against-the-odds down to the wire.

But only Farke and his players can change the music.

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