Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 4-0 rout at Millwall
PUBLISHED: 23:15 26 August 2017 | UPDATED: 23:54 26 August 2017
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from the Den.
1. Work in progress? Enough. - Yes, we get the patience thing. We understand the scale of the turnover and that widespread desire for change. Those aspects are all a given about this bold Norwich City re-invention. But five league games in and the lack of individual and collective responsibility to simply keep the white object out of the Norwich net is now embarrassingly inept.
Daniel Farke spoke on Friday about Millwall’s direct threat around the imposing figure of Steve Morison. The first goal leaked came from….a direct ball towards Morison and a knockdown from the big man after outmuscling Marcel Franke.
Strike partner Lee Gregory was left unattended inside the Norwich area to slot past Angus Gunn to trigger the rout. A total lack of basic defensive nous. Same as Sunderland. Same as Aston Villa. City look physically inferior and in this zonal system totally at the mercy of Championship strike forces.
2. Statistics - Norwich’s defensive woes are so bad it needs another pointer all to itself. Farke has pulled some impressive statistics out of his managerial tool kit in the early part of his reign. Marco Stiepermann’s 1.4kms in a nine-minute cameo that stretched over a full Championship shift would have marked a league best. Or the one after Sunderland, suggesting City’s volume of possession in that game stretched over a 10-game spell would result in eight wins. Quite. Here’s a more pertinent one at present. 12 goals conceded in five games. At this rate last season’s dire goals against column will soon look healthy in comparison.
3. Flexible Farke - City’s head coach dissected his side’s alarming capacity to concede on Friday afternoon ahead of the trip to the Den. Norwich’s intensity out of possession needed to dramatically improve, he reasoned. The inference being it was less about a radical re-think in terms of philosophy, formation or even personnel. The German needs to take this fortnight’s international break away from the mad schedule of a game every few days and ask himself some tough questions; because his template is not going to be residually effective in the hustle and bustle of the Championship.
Alex Tettey has had limited involvement in the league this season but showed again in a League Cup outing against lower level Charlton he has the physicality and the energy to offer a degree of protection to this shell-shocked backline. He is by no stretch the best passer in Norwich’s midfield mix. But he is the best destructive force. And he is needed until the artists can prove their worth on a weekly basis.
4. Front to back - City’s new ‘project’ increasingly looks like Farke and his coaching brains have tried to stick the roof on before bedding in firm foundations. Norwich will not progress, in terms of their slick work in possession, until they build a solid platform. That encompasses everything from formations to defensive systems, at set pieces, to personnel. Russell Martin was singled out for special treatment by sections of the travelling support after the third goal went in. Every touch from him until the interval brought a smattering of boos.
His withdrawal just prior to the hour mark triggered audible appreciation from the same part of the ground. Martin is no stranger to criticism but his clarion call for unity at the end of the season now looks hollow and for a large constituency is tied to his removal from the XI. It will take more than that on this latest diabolical evidence from the Den.
5. Transfer re-think - Farke declared he was ‘happy’ with the numbers and the mix of his squad on Friday, when pressed if it needed a final flourish ahead of next week’s transfer deadline. In this new model that hinges as much on what Stuart Webber feels is required, as much as the head coach. But there is no question help is needed after another mauling exposed such vulnerability amongst this group of City players.
Timm Klose should return after the international break. Sean Raggett has been allowed to return to Lincoln until the New Year. City’s top brass may counter Farke has options. But it is actions between now and next Thursday’s deadline, not words, that will give us a real insight into the thought process at the head of the club’s football pyramid.
Even before this latest setback Norwich look light and lacking in the grit and determination required to check an alarming concession rate. Time will tell if this sobering outing is a tipping point.