Hanley and Gibson owe City pals a debt
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited
Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson may be the best ever centre back pairing Daniel Farke has had at Norwich City – but the Canaries’ boss is keen to share the love around.
Another clean sheet in the 2-0 Championship win at Coventry moved City four points clear at the top ahead of Rotherham’s visit to Carrow Road.
The statistics suggest captain Hanley and Burnley loan signing Gibson have let in fewer league goals after 20 games together than any other duo since Farke’s arrival.
“I don’t want to single out those two. I want to sing the praises of the whole team,” he said. “We shouldn’t be too carried away. It is difficult to compare any statistics from this season with my centre backs in the Premier League. It was much more difficult to concede the same small amount of goals.
"I wouldn’t even compare with my first season, because it was more a situation we had to stabilise. Even the promotion season we had Moritz Leitner or Tom Trybull, number 10 types, in front of the back four.
"Right now we play with Olly Skipp and Kenny McLean and are a bit more solid in front of the back four. A different approach. It is a bit easier for my centre backs.
“I must praise all three, because when Christoph (Zimmermann) has played we have looked capable of clean sheets. It is difficult to leave him out. I am quite pleased with our whole defensive behaviour, quite pleased with the protection and absolutely happy with what Grant and Ben are doing.
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"If players like Emi Buendia or Todd Cantwell didn’t work as hard without the ball, in comparison to some other midfielders on this level, it would be harder. They invest so much in the boring stuff for an attacking player.”
City's enviable squad depth could tip the balance during the title run in, with the likes of Przemyslaw Placheta and Josh Martin struggling at present to make the matchday squad.
“There were periods when we struggled to find a keeper, a left back, a striker, even to fill the bench. I much prefer this situation with lots of competition,” said Farke. “The depth is quite important and in the longer term it will always pay back. I am not sure it is the case for one game. We won’t rotate seven or eight positions.
"It would not be healthy to do this if it meant bringing players onto the pitch who are not in their rhythm. If everyone stays fit and we have this competition then, yes, it is an advantage. It is important to have players available on the training pitch and also to have that quality.”