Energy, long throws and a love of hard graft - Mathias Normann scout report
- Credit: PA
It's rare for the first look at a new signing to be in a game that doesn't involve Norwich City, but Mathias Normann displayed some of the reasons why the Canaries were keen to bring him to Carrow Road.
Normann's first fixture since agreeing to join Norwich on a season-long loan was an international match against the Netherlands.
City's new signing played on the left of a midfield two as Stale Solbakken deployed a narrow 4-4-2 formation in the hope of causing Louis van Gaal's men problems. Norway's current squad is comprised of stars like Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland and Arsenal's Martin Odegaard.
Normann was partnered alongside Morten Thorsby and the pair did add some physicality and athleticism to their midfield engine room.
Within that duo, there was plenty of energy and a desire to win back possession. Some in the Norwegian press opted to describe them as ensuring the team were not 'nice boys'.
There is plenty of context surrounding Normann's individual performances at present. After all, the 25-year-old is still working to a level of full fitness after missing the entirety of pre-season with Rostov.
That was evident in patches of this match. Normann did get caught in between pressing the Netherlands midfield or covering space in the build up to Davy Klaassen's equaliser.
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In the end, a pass was played in behind him and that allowed former Liverpool man Gini Wijnaldum to cross for Klaassen to tap into the net.
But that switch off, and the five minutes that followed, proved to be a mere lapse of concentration during a match where Normann limited Wijnaldum to very little. There were moments where he failed to track runners, but that may be down to fitness rather than his appetite to defend.
In possession, Normann's display was, on the whole, impressive.
There was one moment in particular where he received the ball nicely on the half-turn before spraying a perfectly weight lofted pass to Jens Petter Hauge down the left. The midfielder crossed for Mohamed Elyounoussi, who scuffed the effort wide.
You can't help but think about the joy Milot Rashica or Christos Tzolis would have got from watching such a pass. Normann does attempt those high risk passes on the regular.
Many comparisons will naturally be made between Normann and Skipp, button the evidence of this performance, they are players with a few differences. The Norwegian is more willing to attempt to win the ball back in higher positions rather than cover space.
His enthusiasm to win possession is encouraging, but he does seem to possess the knowledge of when it is necessary to commit a tactical foul, a skill City lacked during their defeat to Leicester City at the weekend.
Normann was also Norway's designated corner taker. His deliveries were consistently good and he even has a long throw-in his armoury as well.
He was replaced after 68 minutes and, beyond Haaland, was arguably Norway's best player in a game against a highly-rated Netherlands side.
Underpinning his positive work in possession is an obvious love for the hard graft. There is a willingness to cover ground and win possession back, whilst attempting to be adventurous and positive with the ball.
Daniel Farke will see plenty that he can mould this season and there is still plenty to come from City's new man. When he does get fully up to speed, Norwich have an option different to those currently available in midfield.