Michael Bailey: Six things learned from Norwich City’s Birmingham success at Carrow Road
PUBLISHED: 23:24 10 September 2017 | UPDATED: 23:24 10 September 2017
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Norwich City clearly used the break well – Michael Bailey tees up his six things from the Canaries’ Birmingham victory.
1 – Farke’s was the best response
Much like his team, we’ve seen glimpses of what the highly regarded German coach Norwich City recruited during the summer is capable of delivering – and there was another one on Saturday.
Maybe we’ve been used to managers ignoring the obvious, but it said a lot that Daniel Farke played with two holding midfielders against Birmingham – stepping away from the more preferred formations he arrived with, and making it work.
In fact the City head coach made some really big calls in dropping two big characters in Russell Martin and Steven Naismith, and two big summer signings in Marley Watkins and Marcel Franke, out of Saturday’s matchday squad entirely.
Those guys will return – and now that Farke’s decisions paid off with a win, it makes his job far easier over the coming week.
And that is what you get when you’re intelligent and confident enough to keep your mind mind open and your views objective.
2 – Tasliman Timm the leader in waiting
Some had invested a lot in the much-heralded return of Timm Klose following his pre-season injury, and that didn’t sit so well. The Timm from Portman Road, the Timm from Pirelli Stadium – it was painful last season and still fresh in the mind.
Let’s be clear – we’re only dealing so far with one afternoon against Birmingham as evidence.
But at the same time it’s not just about how Klose performed on the pitch, which as it happens was composed, secure, combative and reliable – one late, missed header accepted.
Equally impressive was how searingly honest Timm was to me in our chat after the game – on how he misjudged the Championship, how Farke has reinstalled in him a desire to lead, and how missing out on a move back to the Premier League had distracted him.
In his own words, it’s all put him in a happier, more focused place now – and that bodes very well indeed.
3 – Barking orders and biting challenges
Two weeks ago, City managed the remarkable feat of conceding two goals from inconspicuous throw-ins. And one of them was theirs.
On Saturday, a throw-in stuck in my mind again – this time it was the sight of the returning Alex Tettey barking at James Maddison to make sure he knew where his man was. Tettey’s midfield partner for the day Tom Trybull was at it too, barking and communicating to those around him.
City have been too quiet for too long – the problem stretches back seasons. Likewise, viewing such vocal leadership and instruction will never be a bad point.
The midfield mix will no doubt change but in Tettey and Trybull, City seem to have a handy pairing. For a full Championship debut, Trybull was superb.
City are now the first side to make 30 successful tackles in a Championship game this season – twice as many as they managed against Millwall and Aston Villa combined.
4 – Better balance comes at a price
It wasn’t the best game. With the pressure City were under and that dire previous performance, maybe it was never going to be. Certainly no more than 2,000 people inside Carrow Road on Saturday would’ve fully appreciated how bad it was at The Den.
There’s an argument City’s home fans have had it too good. The goals, the wins, the swashbuckling – and ultimately the complete lack of balance from front to back that Norwich couldn’t adapt once they left the county border.
Yet it surprised me how negative some seemed to be over City grinding out three points on Saturday, while showing real fight all over the pitch.
The reality is if City want to look more secure, it’s unlikely they will always be a good going forward as they were. Certainly not as frequently.
And surely a successful season in general trumps simply notching more goals at home than anyone else.
5 – Birmingham may yet come good
It still feels a bit weird to see Harrry Redknapp plying his trade in the Championship. His position is perhaps the biggest indication of the ambitions Birmingham are working to, even if the budget isn’t the biggest.
You look down their squad list now and there are a few names that make you think they should be all right once Harry gets them together for a few weeks.
Elements of their game suited Norwich too, it has to be said. There was only infrequent pressing and City looked quite comfortable in holding up the Blues’ 4-4-2 shape that only occasionally evolved into a 4-2-3-1.
Perhaps it’s part of the argument the Premier League has saught to alter, that the transfer window should close for everyone before the season has started.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Birmingham evolve from here, once the likes of Jota and Jeremie Boga have bedded in for a bit.
6 – One step forward, Burton await
This start to the season has been all about buying time until things hopefully click. Doing that through a rather nervous atmosphere on Saturday was no mean feat.
Usually three points would buy quite a bit of time too, but it seems that this won’t be the case over the next week.
As good as Leeds continue to look with their flashy new recruits under manager Thomas Christiansen, the 5-0 demolition of Burton at Elland Road certainly adds to the dynamic of the Brewers’ visit here on Tuesday. You already sense Carrow Road will accept only victory.
Then it’s a road trip to a Sheffield United side that will be primed with the same game plan that saw Millwall run all over Farke’s Canaries to such inglorious effect.
Victory over Birmingham and its manner were important steps forward – but we may well learn a lot more from the next 180 minutes of football.