Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s hit out against the Bees
PUBLISHED: 10:59 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:24 25 July 2019
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his Brentford verdict after the Canaries’ 3-1 friendly loss at Colney
1. Bouncing Buendia
Norwich's strength was the collective on a joyous voyage of discovery in the Championship last time around. But within the team ethic there are key components that amplify the spirit and the character and the unified sense of purpose.
Teemu Pukki is one. Emi Buendia is the other. The Argentine attacking midfielder was too good for the Championship.
If you had to pick one cast iron guaranteed member of the title-winning squad who should adapt seamlessly to the Premier League, Buendia would surely be top of most polls. The technical ability, the guile and the vision should all find a more accommodating environment in the top flight.
The robust nature of Championship football compelled Daniel Farke on more than one occasion to call for more protection for his playmaker. Given he appears to have spent a large part of his summer bulking up that physical intensity should pose no problems at the higher level.
The manner of his goal against Brentford in Wednesday's behind-closed-doors friendly also underlined his speed of thought and the precision of his execution. Keep him fit and watch him fly.
2. No more injuries. Please
Talking of fitness, there was a touch of discomfort seeing Pukki sit out the latest tune up in sweltering heat at Colney.
Farke confirmed afterwards a 'slight' toe problem was the source, allied to a heavy workload for club and country that saw him playing well beyond those civic celebrations in early May. Farke has a delicate balancing act to perform.
Try and get his players to the start line at Anfield healthy and in the type of shape to give the champions of Europe a test on the opening night.
A first sighting of Timm Klose this summer against the Bees, plus returns for Buendia, Kenny McLean and Josip Drmic after an injury-hit tour of Germany was pleasing.
But on the negative side of the ledger, Mario Vrancic and Alex Tettey have yet to feature. Farke intimated Vrancic is close to a return to full fitness but this weekend's next friendly at Luton may come too soon.
City's ability to get all their assets into first team contention for last season's run in - before Tom Trybull's ankle injury at Stoke City - was a testament to the work of their sports science and medical teams. They will need to do their stuff again over the next few weeks.
3. 'Slapstick' comedy
Farke appeared only mildly perturbed by the manner of Brentford's third goal. A free kick wide on the right was allowed to travel beyond too many Norwich shirts for comfort before Ethan Pinnock slotted past Tim Krul from close range. Brentford's first two goals were equally avoidable.
The training ground nature of the game, the prolific use of subs, the conditions, a morning training session and perhaps most importantly the fact Brentford's season kicks off a week earlier than the Canaries contributed to a rather sluggish defensive approach at Colney.
Farke hardly needs to remind his players they will need to be significantly sharper and resolute when the real business matters. In that regard, he was right to caution a pre-season setback or two is no bad thing.
4. Let battle continue
Norwich have made targeted summer additions to push those who carried the load last season onto a new, even tougher level of competition. Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis remain the first choice full backs but now Sam Byram and Philip Heise are viable alternatives.
Krul knows the addition of Ralf Fahrmann requires him to respond and if Drmic can have an injury-free run or Adam Idah remains a fearless addition to the mix then even the prolific Pukki must not let his standards drop.
You could argue midfield was already well-stocked but Patrick Roberts' pedigree injects an extra degree of competition in wide areas. The slew of names touted with a summer transfer move appeared to have contracted to barely a trickle.
Sporting director Stuart Webber spoke earlier in the close season a waiting game in some areas of their recruitment strategy, when the demand and the prices might drop as time runs out ahead of the August 8 transfer deadline. As Farke likes to remark, we will 'stay awake'.
5. Inked in already?
In amongst the flow of injuries, or managing individual workloads plus the ebb and flow of pre-season games, there appers to be one constant in Farke's selections.
Moritz Leitner has started all four of the friendlies after what must have been a frustrating second part to last season on a personal basis. Trybull and McLean grabbed their chance when injury to Tettey, Vrancic and Leitner himself had opened the door.
The German schemer had been a standout performer in that first phase of putting the Canaries firmly in contention for promotion leading up to Christmas. Like Buendia, regular social media updates over the summer suggested Leitner was hard at it in a bid to return in the sort of shape to lay down a marker. Given his ties with Jurgen Klopp from their time together at Borussia Dortmund, an opening night Premier League game at Liverpool must be huge motivation.
That and the allure of featuring in the highest profile league in the world. Farke seems to be convinced on the evidence thus far.
Leitner, in the quarter-back role, looks to be emerging as a serious option.