Paddy Davitt verdict: The wait for City's big bang theory
- Credit: PA
Pleasing on the eye but inoffensive. It sounds like a nice red. It was faint praise from Rafa Benitez after Everton’s Premier League win over Norwich City.
It is a tone top flight bosses have queued up to direct at the Canaries. Good footballing style, good footballing philosophy. What none of them will admit to in public is on the evidence of the first six attempts it is also easy to nullify.
Bar maybe Manchester City’s attacking cut and thrust and Liverpool’s counter-attacking prowess it is not as if Premier League opponents even extended themselves.
Norwich have harnessed consistency in one area. Individual errors. There were more at the source of this latest reverse on Merseyside.
Ozan Kabak may feel a touch hard done by but once an attempted clearance was mistimed and his straight leg tempted Allan the outcome was inevitable. Even if it took another interminable VAR interlude and a pitchside review from the official.
Kenny McLean’s later stumble and Pierre Lees-Melou's inability to halt Demarai Gray combined to seal Norwich’s fate. Regular as clockwork. Right on cue.
More positive strands from a performance that ultimately ended with no points and another burst of social-media fuelled introspection.
- 1 Buendia sale crucial to £21.5m profit that helped fund City's summer revamp
- 2 Ferguson knew ex-City captain would excel in management
- 3 Webber on Farke future and his own contract
- 4 Paddy Davitt: Should Farke pick up the phone to Neil?
- 5 'Scandalous, a disgrace' - City chief hits backs at haters
- 6 From a magician to a clown. Farke on his critics
- 7 ANALYSIS: City's complex financial story still has a reassuring theme
- 8 City chiefs 'very proud' of financial results amid Covid-19 challenges
- 9 'Don't give up on us now' - Webber plea to City fans
- 10 Giannoulis committed to City survival scrap
It is simply impossible to quantify how big the constituency is who feel Farke is entering the end game. But it is growing.
The simple fact this is now an open debate for public discussion should tell you the gravity of the situation.
Farke again urged his players to ‘keep out the negativity’ following his side’s defeat, but the mere fact he had to acknowledge it underscores a tipping point needs to arrive swiftly.
To stitch together the end of the previous failed Premier League tilt under him, and the start of this one, and extrapolate the German’s long winless run as a signal he simply cannot cut it at the highest level conveniently overlooks a record-breaking Championship title win and a radical overhaul to his squad in between.
But what is also indisputable is the manner of this season’s early faltering steps feel uncannily similar to the sense of drift and realisation those in green and yellow, on and off the pitch, were a long way short of what was required last time to be competitive in the Premier League.
For that reason alone you suspect a large measure of any simmering frustration is the unwillingness to buy the time, or the tough fixture list, or the disrupted pre-season preparation lines.
Farke himself said the moment to judge would be once a ‘bumpy’ Premier League opening was behind them the other side of the first international break. Well, that has been and long gone.
Since when City have come up short against Arsenal, Watford and now Everton.
Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not the upward curve of Brentford and, to a lesser extent the Hornets, is magnifying Norwich’s own struggles.
Brentford fell behind twice to Liverpool on Saturday evening and emerged with a point even Jurgen Klopp was prepared to concede they merited.
Watford fell behind to Newcastle at home, but that man Ismaila Sarr rescued a point.
The smoother adaption, thus far, of City’s newly-promoted rivals echoes how Sheffield United seamlessly stepped up two seasons ago.
Although the Blades now find themselves back in the Championship, which perhaps serves not to run away with the idea the die is already cast.
By common consent this is a better Norwich City squad than two seasons ago. Tim Krul made that very point after what, for long periods, was a comfortable shift at Goodison Park.
But the fact remains Norwich need so much more than patient possession. They need the aggression and the intensity that Benitez felt were key to overcoming ‘a good footballing side’.
They need the physicality and the urgency and the athleticism that seems to be a staple in every Premier League opponent they have faced thus far.
None more so than at Burnley next Saturday under the gnarled Sean Dyche, who you suspect will say all the right things in public between now and this coming weekend. In private he will plan to disrupt and disturb, to bully and to dominate.
City and Farke know what is coming. It will be an uncomfortable afternoon at Turf Moor. But this is what they signed up for and set about reconstructing a squad in the summer to try and deal with.
Farke feels the watershed is coming. It cannot come soon enough.