Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-0 Championship win against QPR
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict after a first home league win.
1. Fighting Franke - In the grand scheme of things it might seem an inconsequential episode but the angry way Marcel Franke reacted to Jamie Mackie’s high boot towards the end of the first half was a significant sign. The verbals that followed from the German, after emergency action to head clear, was the first real sign of aggression from a centre back who was mauled by Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan in that Sunderland reverse. The subsequent clean sheet against QPR for Franke and his defensive pals, and the manner he appeared to relish the physical confrontations when City were put under sustained pressure bode well. It is not just all about the smooth passing rhythms. Norwich will need some devilment and muscle when the occasion dictates. If Franke can fulfil that brief we can forget his uncomfortable baptism against the Black Cats.
2. Gunn Mark II can be as good as the original - Angus has big gloves to fill at Carrow Road. He also has the pedigree, given Norwich have borrowed him for the season from Manchester City. There has been enough evidence to suggest City have a young prospect who can only get better with more exposure to Championship football. The early save from Jamie Mackie was vital in the context of a tentative start from a group of players looking to respond to Sunday’s Sunderland defeat. But there was an even better save shortly after Nelson Oliveira had put City in front, when he denied Luke Freeman from close range. They say it is the mark of a top operator to make big interventions in the vital moments. That was certainly the case against QPR. He deserved his clean sheet.
3. No miracles but more of the same from big Nelson - Three Championship outings, two from the bench and now two league goals. Oliveira is as good a guarantee of goals Norwich have at this level. Keep him fit and focused and City’s Portuguese striker will plunder in large quantities this season. The ability is not in doubt, the big question mark surrounds Daniel Farke’s efforts to harness the forward’s talent for the greater good. The City head coach told Oliveira pre-match he did not want miracles, three goals or five assists. He just wanted a selfless shift for his team mates. Oliveira delivered on that score and got his reward with a clinical second half finish. The standing ovation when he was withdrawn and the hand shake from his manager should convince him he is an invaluable part of the German’s plans.
4. Two faces - All the talk after Sunderland was about sizeable possession statistics. But the manner of City’s 2-0 QPR win hints at more than simply a collection of technical ball players and a rigid dogma. This was a victory sourced in defensive resolve and swift counter-attacks. Norwich, in open play, were second best to the visitors. The passing was disjointed and fitful. Yet they found a way. There will be plenty of Championship games this season that fall into the same bracket. It is a useful trait to have.
5. Villa Park crunch - Early-season it may be but City’s players can now relish a weekend trip to an Aston Villa who already appear to be listing badly. Those pre-season predictions around Villa’s promotion credentials, fanned by the high profile arrival of John Terry, appear wide of the mark. Steve Bruce already has a job on his hands to convince the doubters and fulfil soaring expectations. The pressure is off Farke’s squad, in comparison, after two testing home league games. Norwich travel buoyed by a timely QPR win. Villa’s players will understandably be nervous this Saturday at kick-off. City should look to cash in.