Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-2 Championship finale against Barnsley
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Barnsley verdict after Norwich City's 2-2 Championship draw.
1. A silver-lined encore
Be honest, it feels an eternity already since Norwich City accomplished their primary mission of sealing promotion back to the Premier League. That came without kicking a ball after stumbles for Brentford and Swansea as they prepared to face Bournemouth in a late kick off.
Add in a couple of home defeats in the immediate aftermath, then back to business at QPR. And finally sealing the title in emphatic fashion against Reading.
But no trophy and no fans inside Carrow Road last weekend. No matter. Another week to savour the feeling before Grant Hanley, and Alex Tettey, could finally lift that gleaming Football League Championship trophy aloft in the grey and the gloom at Barnsley.
As Daniel Farke alluded to at his pre-match press call, there was something lacking in comparison to those scenes at Villa Park two seasons ago.
Not just the absence of fans inside the stadium but the sense of theatre and occasion. Norwich did not need any last day heroics on the pitch. Although it was entirely fitting they hit back twice given the resilience they have shown this campaign.
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The job was already done. 97 points. Champions. And now a lovely memento in the Carrow Road trophy cabinet.
2. So long, boys
Maybe there was a rare dollop of sentimentality from Farke in his team selection with Tettey and Mario Vrancic both included on their farewell tour. But the outpouring of genuine affection towards the pair, inside and outside the football club, since the decision was announced they will leave officially this summer speaks volumes for their impact.
Farke himself sounded genuinely upset on Friday afternoon as he recounted how the emotions had started to well in recent days, once the ramifications of the club decision started to sink in.
But hard headed pragmatism is the order of the day now under Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber. It was why the likes of Moritz Leitner and Tom Trybull were jettisoned prior to this latest Championship title triumph.
In truth, bar an early season flurry this time around from Vrancic, others have shouldered the heavy lifting and grabbed most of the headlines.
What next for both men will be fascinating.
But to take Farke at his word, should Norwich engineer Premier League survival then a delayed party this time next year should include invites to both. Thank you chaps. Good luck. God bless.
3. Mighty Max
For obvious reasons, there was no fanfare but if the avalanche of transfer speculation that has built around City’s talented full back in previous transfer windows finally translate into tangible business, this was also the last sight of Aarons in green and yellow.
Should he depart, and the inevitable caveat needs re-stating it will only be on City’s terms and if a potential suitors can convince Webber it is in the interests of all concerned, then despite his relative youth he leaves a huge hole.
Norwich would clearly have to look for a ready made Premier League replacement in due course.
But they will have to go some to find a prospect with the athleticism, the attacking adventure and the character and temperament to match Aarons.
Luton may have moulded him in his formative academy years, but he has grown up at Norwich. He has blossomed at first team level under the guidance of Farke into a player touted as good enough to play for the very biggest and best.
The fact he remained on board after relegation, when it may have been easier to jump ship, and played his full part in restoring the club’s Premier League status ensure if he leaves this coming summer, he goes with the best wishes of every Norwich fan.
4. Time to kick on
It was some impact from Adam Idah. Barely had he been on the park two minutes when he displayed all his predatory instincts to drift to the back post and sweep Todd Cantwell’s perfect pass into the roof of the net to draw Norwich level again.
Idah scored the opening goal of the league campaign to seal three points at Huddersfield. But in between it has been a frustrating spell, punctuated by injury after making his breakthrough for the Republic of Ireland, and also a coronavirus diagnosis.
The powerhouse young forward must have envisaged a vastly different campaign when he grabbed those Huddersfield headlines. But it was a good reminder at Oakwell what a prospect he is.
This season will have been a huge learning curve but what a stage the Premier League presents to really underline, as Farke always says, he was born to score goals.
5. Seize the day, Barnsley
It was a classy touch from the hosts, given under the current social distancing protocols Norwich’s dressing room was situated in the opposite corner flag to where Barnsley first emerged. But the Reds made a beeline for the visitors. Then as Tettey led his troops out they formed a guard of honour to welcome the champions onto the Oakwell turf.
The applause was genuine, the warmth noted. It was the same after the final whistle as they deferred to Hanley, Tettey and the trophy presentations. In between they had set about making life uncomfortable again for the Canaries. That should have surprised no-one. Under Valerien Ismael Barnsley have shown a healthy disregard for reputations, and their place in the pecking order.
Hence why this game was a final tune up for a play-off tilt that looked fanciful when Farke’s friend arrived in October last year, with Barnsley languishing just above the relegation places.
The City boss is not betting against the Reds following his club to the Premier League. That would be some story. You could also debate whether Norwich’s own prospects of survival may be enhanced by Barnsley’s elevation, over maybe Bournemouth.