Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-0 Premier League loss to Brighton
PUBLISHED: 01:37 05 July 2020 | UPDATED: 02:38 05 July 2020
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Brighton verdict after the Canaries’ 1-0 Premier League defeat.
1. ‘Sorry’ excuse
When Daniel Farke is talking up his own sense too many of his players felt sorry for themselves at Arsenal, you had to worry the game was already up.
After a sterile opening quarter from both sides Timm Klose’s cheap turnover was punished eventually by Leandro Trossard.
Then whatever air was left in the balloon at kick-off disappeared. Brighton established control of midfield, Josip Drmic became even more isolated, until he was hooked. Seagulls’ keeper Mat Ryan was redundant.
A team clinging on by their fingernails, mathematically at least, folded compliantly.
If those on the park had conveyed a portion of the passion Farke spoke with pre-match, on why he wanted to stay with the Canaries instead of having his head turned, it would have been more than enough to get past the visitors.
But this is a group who, since the restart, have looked beaten and bowed.
2. Criticise Farke but take personal responsibility, lads
In revealing that interest in his services from elsewhere, Farke also made it clear he had expected a season of struggle and, with that, inevitable criticism over his set ups, selections and matchday craft.
The inclusion of both Ondrej Duda and Drmic ensured a fresh wave of disapproval on social media washed in his direction when this latest team news dropped.
Certainly neither did anywhere near enough to suggest he got it right.
But Klose’s basic error, on the back of those individual mistakes at Arsenal and plenty more besides this season, should not excuse the players Farke entrusted to perform.
Farke is right. He deserves stick for an uncomfortable debut tour that has tested him as a coach.
But too often, both individually and collectively, those players have failed him and the fans.
You can debate whether the quality threshold is good enough, whether the gap from the Championship has proved too great, but how many in green and yellow should be happy with their seasonal output when the guns fall silent?
3. Shot-shy? Shambolic more like
Norwich have yet to score since the Premier League returned.
They were failing to score before it went away.
The ledger now stands at one goal in nine league games; a huge portion of a season where the Canaries have dried up. This was another affair with just one recorded shot on target.
Much of the focus on Teemu Pukki’s declining productivity is inevitable.
But it was wholly unrealistic to expect the Finnish striker to shoulder the burden he did in the Championship, and the opening couple of months in the top flight.
It is too easy to ask why Pukki has started to misfire and excuse why Emi Buendia is yet to get off the mark, or why Todd Cantwell appears the only creative force in the ranks capable of scoring at this level, or why defenders have been unable to chip in.
Part of that comes down to Farke’s coaching, part of it is the recruitment and the quality at his disposal, but given the goals flowed at the outset of the campaign a bigger part of this equation would seem the result-sapping impact on confidence and belief.
4. Is Adam the answer?
The calls for Idah to start the remaining Premier League games are surely set to grow ever louder now after another anaemic offering.
Particularly after his glancing header clipped the base of a post in stoppage time. The closest City came to getting on the scoresheet.
Farke was pressed on Friday regarding whether the time had come for the prolific age group striker to get his chance.
The head coach’s response was interesting. Idah’s FA Cup hat-trick back in January, and attacking injuries, thrust him into the spotlight.
A Premier League full debut at Manchester United followed, but up against the likes of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof the young man’s naivety was evident. Albeit he was hardly supported by those around him in a heavy Old Trafford loss.
Farke felt perhaps he was not ready for such Premier League exposure, judging by his relative lack of minutes since.
But allied to the decline in Pukki’s powers, and Drmic’s on going struggles to step up, Idah offers a viable alternative for a run of games that now surely pivot towards planning for next season.
5. Learning lessons
Stuart Webber made it clear recently there were plenty to digest in order to come back stronger as a team and a football club.
The inevitable will be confirmed over coming days. Then the fightback can begin in earnest. You can be sure under Webber’s strategic approach it will not be from a standing start.
City have deals in the pipeline ready to unveil when, rather than if, a return to the Championship is confirmed.
Plus the arrivals of the likes of Sam McCallum, Melvin Sitti and Danel Sinani to throw into the mix.
But Webber and those shaping the next phase could do worse than speak to some of the key actors who have been on this ride before in exiting the Premier League with Norwich. There remains grounds for optimism in the financial stability, the infrastructure at Colney, and well-established commitment to developing young talent.
Not to mention a first team squad which despite this season’s struggles retains sufficient quality to compete at the level below, and will surely attract admiring glances in the upcoming transfer window.
But City fans will crave early signs of not only an acknowledgement of visible failings. But how they plan to address them.