Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-1 Championship point at Derby County
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Pride Park
1. Take a bow, boys
You know the cliché about how gruelling a league the English Championship is.
The incessant nature of the games, the physicality, the muck and nettles stuff. It is all those things and much more but for Norwich to go six games unbeaten, plus two League Cup ties, could mean you look back on this period as a watershed in the reign of Daniel Farke.
Of course, this being the English Championship the curve could quite easily bend in the opposite direction. It did last season.
But this feels like a different squad and perhaps a different head coach. Norwich may not have exerted the control of previous games on this run at Derby but they were no less confident and composed in what they are trying to do.
There was an inevitable sting at leaking two late points, with Craig Bryson’s equaliser, but when the dust settled it marked another step in a positive direction. Roll on Stoke.
2. Luscious Leitner
Many factors have aligned to power Norwich into the top six.
Moritz Leitner’s re-deployment is on a par with Marco Stiepermann’s renaissance and the goal-laden arrivals of Teemu Pukki and to a lesser extent Jordan Rhodes. Leitner looks at ease alongside Alex Tettey with more time and space to set the tempo and move City through the thirds in orderly fashion.
Pushed further forward the German seems to have less fertile conditions to exert the same influence. Farke said something telling recently regarding Leitner’s presence.
He will not weigh in with the goals and assists of a James Maddison but he is capable of triggering moves and shaping prolonged passages of possession. Leitner arrived at Carrow Road with the pedigree but perhaps a sense his career had wandered up a cul-de-sac.
Derby was another demonstration it could prove inspired business.
3. Fall guy Farke
City’s head coach was feted by Frank Lampard in the Derby match programme as one of the best rated coaches in Germany when he pitched up in England.
Let’s be honest, there are those who pledge allegiance to the green and yellow who felt Farke lacked what it takes to get this club upwardly mobile. Last season was ultimately a frustrating debut that tailed off into mid-table.
But Farke has got more right than wrong this season and the bravery to persist with a youthful core in his starting XI is reaping dividends. Not to mention the astute series of deals that brought the likes of Christoph Zimmermann, Pukki and Leitner to Norfolk.
To name a few. This is now Farke’s Norwich City and on the evidence to this point of the campaign they are a credit to him.
4. Endless possibilities?
Lampard was in no doubt Norwich can maintain a top six push this season. Farke was understandably more circumspect in his assessment, when made aware of the Rams’ chief’s opinion after the game. The Norwich boss is keen to keep a lid on rising expectations.
Much is made of the naivety and inconsistency that comes with blooding so many young, unproven talents. But there is nothing inconsistent or flaky about this current formline.
City have propelled themselves into the mix and have both injured players to return and greater depth to the squad. As such, Lampard’s prediction City have the tools to compete at the right end of the Championship may not be far-fetched.
5. Friends reunited
Football at the highest reaches is a brutal business. John Ruddy and Ryan Bennett were moved on as part of a necessary financial cull in one of the first decisive acts engineered by Stuart Webber.
Both certainly landed on their feet with moves to a Wolves who romped the Championship and now look set to enjoy a successful season of Premier League consolidation. Bennett indeed has emerged as a key cornerstone of the Wolves’ backline as he looks to fulfil that undoubted potential which was never quite realised in Norfolk. Maddison’s departure was an altogether more beneficial divorce for both parties.
The Leicester City midfielder has made a seamless top flight transition. But it was a nod perhaps to a softer side to a ruthless profession all three found themselves together in the away end at Pride Park to support their former club.
In an era where much is made of the growing disconnect between player and fan it was a reminder the old values are not quite yet dead.