Michael Bailey: Double jeopardy, homegrown hammering and THE big positive – six things we learned from City’s false start
PUBLISHED: 06:12 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 22:21 13 August 2018
So that was dramatic – PinkUn Show host and Norwich City correspondent MICHAEL BAILEY hits his super six as the Canaries claim West Bromwich Albion defeat at Carrow Road from the jaws of victory.
1 – They can now do the hard bit!
It was a factor that caused anguish come full time – yet if Norwich City can keep it up, it’s a key improvement.
For all of nine minutes, Daniel Farke was finally in charge of a Canaries side with a positive goal-difference. With a backdrop of wondering how Saturday would compare to the number Sunderland did down here early last season, City showed they had the nous to score first and give themselves a real platform.
City scoring first happened in just seven of 23 home games last season – a record equal with the Black Cats and better only than another relegated side, Burton.
Yep. The next bit is obvious. From there City effectively threw it away, and that is no less frustrating.
The good thing is we have seen City tighten up, sharpen up and manage a game; traits that now need rediscovering. Like most ex-Premier League clubs and despite other issues, West Brom had all the game management they needed. Your turn City.
2 – It’s a Krul world after all
It started with a question in the press room before kick-off: How did I feel City’s season would go? My answer? So much depends on two big summer signings, Tim Krul and Jordon Rhodes. Those words felt prophetic come 5pm.
Krul’s unfortunate home debut is not a one-off. It’s just that John Ruddy got a friendly to make his big mistake in. Clearly it’s all the fault of the new pitch.
Krul’s penalty concession was forgivable given greater misdemeanours from others just seconds earlier. Sadly, such mitigation is in shorter supply for Jay Rodriguez’s crucial second – from range and through Timm Klose.
With Remi Matthews deciding one rejection was one too many, Krul’s job now is to not only shake off his error but show it was a blip compared to what he offers.
Last season City were tight at the back but never added the goals they needed. We’re about to find out if having the goals and tightening up at the other end is an easier task.
3 – Ivo is truly fond of a mixed bag
Russell Martin and Alex Tettey – they are the only players in Daniel Farke’s current squad with more appearances in yellow and green than Ivo Pinto.
I must admit, I thought the Portuguese defender would be gone in the summer. But he’s still here, he’s fought through an injury-hit pre-season and deserves huge credit – just like Tettey at Birmingham – for churning out such an energetic performance with so little preparation pitch time.
Pinto’s efforts going forward were such that you can understand why a head coach would like a right-footer at left-back.
Pinto’s ability to cut inside and shoot or pass caught out Albion on more than one occasion. In many ways, he was at his attacking best.
Alas, three of the Baggies’ four goals could also be put down – in part – to Pinto either being caught out, leggy or not closing down. Still, with a bit of work I’d still call him a left-back option from here.
4 – It pays to do your homework
City’s pre-season win at Luton was best remembered for an excellent first-half showing and Jordan Rhodes’ worrying ankle injury.
What was perhaps forgotten was the striker’s first goal for City. A penalty similar to Saturday – hit the same way. Only that time, the Luton stopper dived the other way.
In fact someone – probably me – no doubt said Rhodes sent the keeper the wrong way. We now know that’s probably not the case, given Albion keeper Sam Johnstone was almost horizontal to his left when Rhodes was still two strides from striking the ball.
Johnstone revealed: “It was homework from my time at Villa last season. I’d seen Jordan’s penalties and he favoured that way. I remembered that and luckily it paid off. I thought it’s early in the season, he wants a goal, that’s probably his way. So homework from last year actually helped me.”
After all the World Cup penalty focus, you’d think everyone would just smack it.
5 – The Baggies won’t get so lucky too often
West Brom, we know what you’re going through. From the hugely talented squad, question marks over a manager with popularity but no experience, the cries of ‘attack’ and the feeling your quality will be enough to get you through all scrapes.
We’ve seen Norwich City have to deal with that series of circumstances more than once in recent years – Albion’s third goal underlined the point; it’s all there for them if they get it right.
Indeed, how the Baggies deal with the aftermath of Saturday will be intriguing – given it came via two huge helping hands, rather than cutting City open.
The successes will be ascribed to Darren Moore getting things right and players coming into the side and into form. And yet, that first half a horribly passive Albion were let off the hook in a big way. Their season will be fascinating viewing.
As will their kits. From Saturday’s version to their midweek yellow and green, they’ve got that right at least.
6 – Farke’s hands are a tad tied
We’re yet to properly gauge the quality of City’s current squad – but the options and balance in terms of what it offers Daniel Farke certainly feel like an improvement on the previous campaign.
And yet it has become quite apparent in the opening two games there is an issue making life far from simple.
In a senior squad of 30, 14 qualify as homegrown players – including Russell Martin, Matt Jarvis, injured striker Carlton Morris plus a trio of Todd Cantwell, Aston Oxborough and Max Aarons with one senior appearance between them.
But it’s the flip side that seems far from ideal. City are allowed 11 non-homegrown players in each matchday squad – and have 16 in their current group, the majority signed since May 2017. That’s five with no chance of featuring from the get-go – and a few disappointed faces floating around the camp.
The good news? The rules don’t apply in the Carabao Cup. So here’s to a Stevenage free for all and no cup exit!
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