Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-0 friendly win against Toulouse
PUBLISHED: 09:49 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:51 04 August 2019
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Toulouse verdict after the Canaries’ friendly finale.
1. If at first you don't succeed
Given Norwich City plundered with gay abandon in the Championship, the relative lack of a cutting edge in these final two friendlies is hardly a cause for concern. Daniel Farke certainly has no doubts the likes of Teemu Pukki and pals will be on message when it matters.
Better to accentuate the positive and the stack of opportunities created against top flight sides from Italy and France. City by the end were using the Toulouse backline and the over-worked keeper, Baptiste Reynet, for target practice.
There was one rather comical interlude when first Josip Drmic, then Dennis Srbeny and finally Mario Vrancic all had strikes blocked in the space of a matter of seconds. It did not matter in what was a glorified fitness exercise to wrap up pre-season.
It most certainly will at Anfield and thereafter. Norwich will not be afforded quite such quantities of chances. They need to up the economy rate.
2. Jumping Jamal
Lewis was arguably the pick of the bunch for the hosts against Ligue 1 opponents. Less so for his defensive work, with Norwich largely dominating territory and possession, but the growing cut and thrust to his attacking play.
Lewis looks a thoroughbred of an athlete when he picks the ball up and drives forward.
There was one instance surging towards the Barclay End in the second half when he popped the ball the other side of his marker and was still too quick to go the long way around and re-gather the ball before rather selflessly opting to pass, rather than shoot.
There was one rasping effort in the closing stages of the first half. Lewis failed to get his name on the scoresheet in the Championship title win. That might be a statistic he puts right this time around. He looks brimful of confidence and ready to take the Premier League in his stride.
3. Ben Godfrey, plus one
In an ideal world, Farke will be able to build up to Liverpool with both Grant Hanley and Timm Klose fit and available.
Christoph Zimmermann misses out on an opening night date on Merseyside but it would be a major surprise if Hanley and Klose are not now vying for a starting spot alongside Godfrey in the heart of the Canaries' backline; a defence that must try and subdue a glittering array of attacking talent spearheaded by Mo Salah.
You could argue experience is going to be vital but there is also a counter argument that a young, fearless powerhouse with little or no scar tissue and a season behind him where he blossomed in the absences of both Hanley and Klose is a surer bet.
The reality is whoever lines up in Norwich's defence on Merseyside is in deep water, but given Farke hailed Godfrey's original switch from defensive midfield to centre back as a chance to really fulfil his 'world class' potential. What a statement of intent if can hold his own against some of the best forwards on planet football.
4. Fast-acting pain relief
Farke was asked about any number of selection dilemmas after this friendly finale. Particular regard was paid to the keeper situation, with Tim Krul and Ralf Fahrmann. Farke's response was when he knew, they would be the first to know in the coming days. You can widen the net to the central midfield duo where there is any number of possible permutations.
While behind Pukki a battle is raging for the three midfield slots, when you consider Onel Hernandez and Patrick Roberts started this Carrow Road outing on the bench. The City head coach will have processed plenty of information from the first day back at Colney, through a week in Germany and then a series of UK-based friendlies which had a little bit of everything, from newly-promoted Luton to evolving Brentford and a dollop of continental competition to finish.
Farke made it clear on Friday afternoon his starting XI against Toulouse would not be replicated at Anfield. That means there are battles raging and decisions to make between now and next Friday. He certainly has a headache or two to solve.
5. Wildcard Todd
Cantwell has emerged as a serious frontline option for the Premier League opener over these past few pre-season months.
That is a testament to the lad himself and also the faith shown by Farke. It would have been far easier to decide a talented attacking option who was largely on the periphery of the club's march to the Championship title might be better suited going out on loan again.
Not a bit of it. Cantwell, like Adam Idah, appear to have forced themselves into Farke's Premier League plans and all that remains unanswered in the short term is can they make the same leap as Lewis or Aarons or Godfrey? To do that when the destination is the English top flight is a tall order.
Which is why as good as Cantwell has been in pre-season, and was again in a prominent display against the French, it would cap a remarkable rise if his name is among the XI at Anfield on Friday.
Not because he would look out of place in such exalted company, more that Farke may opt to unleash him in a more favourable environment. But you only have to sit and listen to the head coach when he is asked to assess Cantwell's progress to know he is on the right path.