Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-1 Championship fightback against West Brom
PUBLISHED: 22:04 12 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:40 13 January 2019
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from The Hawthorns
1. Rhodes to the rescue
Norwich had been pummelled and were on the ropes for long spells at The Hawthorns. But they found a way in the most spirited of fashion. Albion will rue their inability to add a second which in all probability may have been enough.
But when you have Jordan Rhodes in reserve, one is never enough. Kenny McLean’s initial free kick spiralled back towards him for a second go. Rhodes the arch predator was on the move to guide the cross past Sam Johnstone at the near post.
Those 2,723 Norwich fans had the perfect view and the burst of noise may have been felt back in Norfolk. City may have now won just one of their last seven in league and cup - or one league defeat in 15 depending on where your measure is on the glass - but this felt like much more than a battling point.
It was a result built on guts and resolution. It may just propel them back into a winning seam after treading water in recent weeks.
2. Krul hat-trick
There really is no in-between with Norwich’s number one. His distribution with the ball at his feet was nothing short of shocking at The Hawthorns.
Max Aarons must have got tired of the ball sailing over his head, and out of play, with West Brom forcing Krul to kick long.
But the double save straight after half-time was stunning. First he tipped over Hal Robson-Kanu’s goalbound clip and then beat away Gareth Barry’s piledriver.
That proved crucial in the final analysis but even after Rhodes had drawn Norwich level there was another top drawer close range stop to deny Robson-Kanu again.
It is tempting to focus on what Krul did not do right in the West Midlands. But he was also instrumental.
3. Time for some experience to help Farke’s fledglings?
It is a testament to City’s head coach the imminent exit of Ivo Pinto is another signal the future has become the present in Norwich’s defence.
Aarons has been superb in his breakthrough season, while Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis do little to raise the average age in front of Krul.
When Christoph Zimmermann is your most experienced operator at the back, having played in the fourth tier of German football barely two seasons ago, you know you are witnessing a changing of the guard. Grant Hanley’s suspension and those knee concerns around Timm Klose perhaps limited the room for manoeuvre.
But the gulf in streetwise experience at times was painfully evident right across the park. A Premier League squad in all but name is perhaps an unfair barometer but against the best in this division there is an argument to pepper City’s line up with a few more older heads down the stretch. That is not a change of philosophy, more an acknowledgement of how deep the water is for so many fresh-faced talents.
4. Time to get to work on Mo
Farke joked on Friday, after revealing Emi Buendia had returned some way ahead of schedule, that he was loath to praise his sports science team too much because Moritz Leitner was still sidelined.
The German midfielder appears to be on course to return at the start of next month but any similar short-circuiting of that timescale would do wonders for Norwich’s ability to control the tempo and possession. Especially with the stakes now seemingly higher every week. A touch of composure in the middle of the park from Leitner is sorely missed at present.
Mario Vrancic again deputised but it only underlined again how big an absence Leitner is from this side.
5. Crunching the numbers
You might argue the Norwich head coach was getting his retaliation in first prior to the game when he pointed out his side had taken only two points from the corresponding run of five fixtures heralded by the trip to West Brom.
Despite such slim measures, the Canaries had still reached the summit prior to the festive spell and went into this contest in an automatic promotion place.
But after a hard-fought draw that perhaps on occasion exposed some of the naivety and vulnerability in this spirited squad, it is worth remembering there is a bigger picture far beyond the games that climax with the derby visit of Paul Lambert’s Ipswich next month.
Nothing will be decided in this spell of testing matches. Farke spoke again on Friday about his next target after securing safety is to match last season’s points haul. Only then will he raise his sights publicly. But a dose of realism might be no bad thing as they scrap against promotion hopefuls. And Ipswich.