Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 3-1 friendly win at King's Lynn Town
- Credit: Ian Burt/Archant
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his King's Lynn Town verdict after Norwich City's 3-1 friendly win.
1. Fun in the sun
For so many reasons the sight of Norfolk’s two premier clubs duelling in the warm evening sunshine with fans present at The Walks was a sight to lift the spirits.
The result was immaterial with the drive for fitness at this stage of pre-season paramount. But Kieran Dowell’s brace and a late finish from Adam Idah sent the vast majority of those in attendance home happy.
Dowell finished last season with five goals in 10 games and with Emi Buendia and Mario Vrancic departed, plus Marco Stiepermann, there is a vacancy for the creative pivot in Daniel Farke’s Premier League plans.
Farke got a chance to run the rule over Billy Gilmour and Milot Rashica, as well as unveil a departure from the base formation that swept his side to a second Championship title last season. Christoph Zimmermann, Jacob Sorensen and Andrew Omombamidele set up in a defensive three.
There was a feel of experimentation, as you would expect at this stage. Farke will not be showing his top flight hand until much nearer Liverpool’s league visit. But he may have taken more from a competitive Lynn workout than a one-sided affair.
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2. Classy Gilmour
From Wembley to the Walks. Some journey for Gilmour, who no doubt to the delight of the Norwich fans in attendance and those of a Chelsea or Rangers persuasion able to watch the live feed, made a swift public appearance following his recent season long loan move.
The hype that surrounds Gilmour tells you what a prospect he is. That previous Wembley date saw him star in Scotland’s 0-0 Euro 2020 draw against an England side who went all the way to the final.
A period of self-isolation curtailed his own tournament and delayed perhaps the formalities of his switch to the Canaries.
But this opening 45 minutes was worth the wait. Forget his relative inexperience or tender years, Gilmour demanded the ball from City’s central defensive three.
There were glimpses of his obvious quality in possession; the touch, balance and awareness to feed in Bali Mumba twice and one gorgeous first time raking pass for Rashica were a joy to behold. Gilmour does not bring the aggression and the defensive retrieval work of an Olly Skipp.
But you sense his arrival is a signal City will try and exert a measure of control and an ability to set the tempo when the real action commences. Getting the right midfield mix around Gilmour is now key.
3. Running man Rashica
The club’s big-money signing from Werder Bremen this summer said all the right things in his official unveiling on Thursday. But it is what he can bring on the pitch that will excite City fans.
Operating in an advanced role down the Norwich left, flanking Jordan Hugill in the first half, he grabbed every opportunity to dip inside and try his luck on his right foot.
The radar may have been a little awry when it mattered most but the intent and the drive were encouraging signs against the National League neighbours.
Rashica spoke on Thursday about how he needs to adapt to Farke’s demands and the high intensity of training. At this early stage of pre-season, these friendlies are simply an extension of that general quest for fitness.
The sharpness in the final third will come. But for a club who know at times in the Premier League they will not be able to dictate through possession alone having a counter-attacking threat with the pace and thrust of a Rashica looks a useful asset at Farke’s disposal.
4. Do not write off the Linnets
Ian Culverhouse will have taken plenty from the way his squad competed for the most part, until perhaps the Canaries’ greater fitness levels told in the final quarter.
They more than deserved a first half goal slotted by Ross Barrows, after Junior Morais’ stunning initial strike cannoned off Angus Gunn’s bar.
Inevitably, given the pedigree of many former Football League clubs now operating at the same level, plenty will predict another season of struggle. But look around the Walks – both on and off the park – and you can see the tremendous strides this proud west Norfolk club have achieved in recent seasons.
In Culverhouse they have an astute, gifted coach who will extract above and beyond the sum of the resource at his disposal. Norfolk needs a vibrant football scene below the Premier League Canaries.
What a campaign ahead for both. Few outside the county will fancy their chances of staying up. But both clubs appear to be heading in the right direction.
5. Precious Sorensen
Jacob Sorensen operating in a defensive three from kick off will have raised an eyebrow or two from those looking in. We know all about the Dane’s versatility after that extended shift at left back in the club’s Championship title success. Sorensen was recruited as a central midfielder but has operated at centre back for the Danes at under-21 level.
Given the saga involving Celtic’s Kris Ajer looks set to be resolved in the coming hours and days with Brentford closing in a club record purchase, City’s central defensive stocks continue to be scrutinised.
Farke has four frontline options at his disposal if you add Omobamidele to the mix. But perhaps Sorensen should not be discounted should Farke view a defensive three as one part of his flexible tactical planning.
Fresh from a new longer term Carrow Road deal announced this past week, Farke’s comments following that announcement were telling when he flagged up why Sorensen is now one of the most valuable members of his group. In truth, his defensive nous was not seriously tested at Lynn but it will be interesting to see if the experiment is repeated as pre-season develops.