Paddy Davitt verdict: Old big 'ead was spot on

PUBLISHED: 14:57 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:57 04 August 2019

Grant Hanley returned after a groin injury but Timm Klose sat out the friendly finale to rest a hip issue 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Grant Hanley returned after a groin injury but Timm Klose sat out the friendly finale to rest a hip issue Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

To paraphrase the late, great Brian Clough, you can throw your pre-season programme in the bin.

Norwich City midfielder Kenny McLean notched in the first half against Toulouse 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City midfielder Kenny McLean notched in the first half against Toulouse Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Drawing any hard or fast conclusions from what happened on the pitches of Germany, Colney, Kenilworth Road et al must only come in the context of Norwich City's quest for fitness.

Based on the final two Carrow Road outings against Atalanta and latterly Toulouse, City look vulnerable in central areas - when they turn over the ball - and unable to hit a barn door.

Clough also famously said 'Rome wasn't built in a day, but I wasn't on that job'.

Daniel Farke knows the scale of the task ahead in the Premier League. His players do too, or they will soon enough when you consider a daunting early fixture list pits them against the European Cup holders, the Europa League winners and the reigning champions.

Teemu Pukki endured a frustrating day in front of goal against Toulouse Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTeemu Pukki endured a frustrating day in front of goal against Toulouse Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It might be less about converting a stack of chances in those particular assignments than trying to keep the back door shut; which is why the injury concerns for the centre back area of Farke's squad offer far more cause for alarm that Teemu Pukki's radar not quite being fully attuned at this early stage.

It should be pointed out this is a player who missed two pre-season games to rest a 'minor toe issue' following an extended season plundering goals for his country on Euro2020 qualifying duty.

Given Christoph Zimmermann is out of the equation for the opening league duels and both Grant Hanley and now Timm Klose have had their own fitness issues to contend with, it is hardly ideal preparation to try and subdue the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane.

Farke will have loved how Todd Cantwell has take a step or three forward this summer and looks to be maturing into an attacking midfield option of promise.

Emi Buendia picked out Kenny McLean for the winner Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdEmi Buendia picked out Kenny McLean for the winner Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Patrick Roberts is another who on the available evidence feels an astute loan signing from Manchester City. There is a quality and intelligence to his work that can be a more than useful asset once he is fully assimilated into Farke's template.

The City head coach reiterated again on Friday there will be no major splurge, no panic buying in the final days of the transfer window that cloes at 5pm on Thursday.

In that regard, Norwich's messaging has been consistent ever since promotion was sealed and sporting director Stuart Webber scoffed at agents offering players who could demand a weekly salary in excess of Farke's entire squad.

That might be a harder sell if the gulf is brutally big against the very best in this opening month. But that is when City's hierarchy, coaching staff, players and fans must hold firm.

Daniel Farke was happy with his side's showing against Alain Casanova's Toulouse Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdDaniel Farke was happy with his side's showing against Alain Casanova's Toulouse Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

To repeat the mistakes of the past and gamble with the financial stability of the football club is to fly in the face of the culture and philosophy which has carried Norwich to the Premier League against all the odds.

You do not embark on infrastructural change on a grand scale, or a commitment to developing young talent, and then abandon it in favour of lavish spending when the broadcast millions arrive in the bank account.

That may perplex some Norwich fans still, it certainly appears to be disorientating any number of pundits queuing up to accuse City of a lack of ambition. But that essentially is outside noise.

For the informed and those who have been on this thrilling ride for the past 12 months or so there must be reassurance in the knowledge with Farke and Webber at the helm the ship is in safe hands.

Clough dragged two provincial clubs to the summit of English football.

Those days, alas, are long gone. The miracle of Leicester City's Premier League title win was a jolt to the established order, who have since reasserted their dominance at home and increasingly abroad on the evidence of last season's European finalists at club level.

That is the scale of the challenge that awaits as Farke prepares his squad for a trip to Anfield.

Time to embrace it.

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