Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 5-0 Premier League final day defeat at Manchester City
- Credit: PA
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Manchester City verdict after the Canaries’ 5-0 Premier League defeat.
1. Dizzying descent
It could take a good week for City’s defenders and midfielders to stop spinning after an afternoon on the Manchester City carousel. The Canaries had to forage on 26pc possession but it was really an exercise in trying to frustrate and filling in endless holes in front of Tim Krul.
But the movement from Pep Guardiola’s men, the desire to win the ball back on the odd occasion they did lose it, and the sheer quality and finishing prowess rendered this a damage limitation exercise.
That was before you added the scarce resource at Daniel Farke’s disposal, that saw him include two keepers on an under-populated substitutes’ bench.
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The visitors were game and committed but outclassed. As they have been for the majority of this sorry Premier League season. Kevin De Bruyne’s two emphatic, world class finishes underlined why heart and character and team spirit and togetherness have simply not been enough. Nowhere near it. Even when Norwich do not face this level of brilliance.
2. Tame Teemu
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When you are on such a long dry spell, when you have been restored to the line up, when you go into this game with rising speculation about your future, all Teemu Pukki surely craved was the sort of first half chance against Edersen he would have slotted in his sleep back in the Championship.
There was zero conviction in how he approached Manchester City’s keeper, and the execution was the act of a frontman bereft of confidence.
Pukki has simply looked a shadow of his former self since that foot injury at Leicester in December. Not even a three month pause was able to rejuvenate the striker in a team limping towards relegation.
If those reports from Turkey turn into tangible actions then both the player and his club have decisions to make. City need the Pukki of his pomp to do anything in the Football League again. This current version will not cut it.
3. Oh no, Onel
What a finish from City’s Cuban export to cut inside Kyle Walker and rifle a shot through the legs of Bruyne, to beat Ederson at his near post. Unfortunately for Hernandez, and Norwich fans, the eagle-eyed video assistants correctly spotted he was a fraction offside when receiving the initial pass.
City do not have to worry about the vagaries (that is the polite term) of VAR back in the Football League. But they do need Hernandez to exhibit the same ruthless instincts he showed inside the opening 10 minutes.
There was another superb slaloming run in the second half before Ederson advanced to foil him. Add that end product to his game on a regular basis and Norwich have a seriously rounded operator on their hands. All the raw material is there.
4. The Norwich Way
Sadly there was no repeat of the last time Norwich fielded two keepers on the bench against Manchester City.
Archie Mair got up close and personal with the Citizens’ galaxy of talent before he heads west to link up with National League newcomers King’s Lynn on a season-long loan.
Add up a stack of injuries, suspensions to Emi Buendia and Josip Drmic, and the upshot here was only eight of the permitted nine substitute slots taken by the Canaries, with Mair joining Michael McGovern on the bench.
Given the hosts could introduce Riyad Mahrez, Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan at the interval it was another graphic illustration of the gulf within the Premier League, never mind between the top flight and the rest.
But City’s matchday squad contained 10 academy prospects. Capped with first team debuts for Akin Famewo and Jordan Thomas. If ever you wanted a signal of what is at the core of this current direction of travel – even in such trying circumstances – that was it. Even if some of the first wave do move on this summer, there has to be others waiting to take their place from within.
5. The clock is ticking
Those transfer window dates confirmed in recent days carry the potential to destabilise Norwich’s already devilishly difficult task of shedding the baggage from this campaign to hit the ground running back in the Championship.
Given the new campaign will begin on September 12 that is potentially a month of head-turning speculation, rumour and maybe finally firm offers around the club’s best talent, as Farke attempts the not inconsiderable task of winning football games.
In an ideal world, City would complete their incoming business and sanction the outgoings well before the Canaries begin their league quest.
But this is not an ideal world and with inevitable brinkmanship and the usual last-minute scramble mentality of buyers and sellers Stuart Webber now needs to move centre stage over this abbreviated close season.
City have already made a start to reshape the squad. But not every moving part will be within the Canaries’ control.