Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-0 friendly win against Huddersfield
- Credit: Norwich City/Matthew Usher
Paddy Davitt delivers his Huddersfield verdict after Norwich City's 2-0 friendly win.
1. Bravo Pierre
After an eventful pre-season debut against Lincoln City, that brought a goal plus a work permit and international clearance, this was the first public sighting of Lees-Melou in green and yellow.
Accepting the gentle nature of the fitness exercise it was still an impressive body of work from the Frenchman.
His range of passing, the way he covered the ground and the relish he snapped into tackles underlined his versatility and illustrated perhaps why another defensive midfielder - in the mould of Olly Skipp - is not on the agenda in what remains of the transfer window.
Lewis O’Brien felt the full force of one such challenge in the second half. You can begin to see the midfield mix with Lees-Melou and Kenny McLean or a Lukas Rupp offering Billy Gilmour the protection to set the tempo.
The Chelsea youngster was absent as a precaution to rest a tight quad, but another of City’s summer midfield recruits made a very favourable impression at Colney.
2. Water is wet
His European Championship quest may have ultimately proved an exercise in frustration but this was vintage Teemu Pukki on his return to a Norwich shirt. One real sight of goal in a 45-minute cameo, one composed finish lifted over Lee Nicholls and nestled just inside the far post.
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The trigger move and the quality slot demonstrated again why he remains such a pivotal figure for Daniel Farke. Despite a desire to add to their attacking options. His race to be fit for Finland, after a late-season ankle injury, saw him successfully appear at a landmark tournament for his country that he, more than most, made happen.
But he looked a pale shadow of the player who again plundered with such regularity in another Championship title win.
A delayed return to Norwich’s pre-season for a well-earned break will hopefully have recharged the batteries. This is a big season for his club but also for Pukki, who may view another crack at the big time as unfinished business. He will need no reminding how a stunning Premier League start gave way to more injury-induced angst.
3. Big strides from Bali
Fresh from a new, improved Carrow Road deal, which should demonstrate how highly rated Bali Mumba is, the teenage defender caught the eye once more in a 66-minute appearance before making way for the ‘veteran’ Max Aarons.
Farke pointed out trying to oust either Aarons or Dimitris Giannoulis on the opposite flank is a tall order at present. But the former Sunderland youngster is bang up for the challenge.
He again looked comfortable in tight spaces and tigerish in his tackling.
There is so much raw material for Farke to mould, and you can understand why despite his youth and relative inexperience he will remain part of City’s Premier League planning.
To use Farke’s oft-quoted test, Mumba has confidently walked through the door, and with each passing outing, even in a pre-season setting, shown he does not look out of place.
4. Economy of effort
Adam Idah’s goals to minutes ratio in the early part of pre-season is something else. Against both King’s Lynn and now the Terriers he cashed in during second-half cameos.
His latest strike illustrated why his head coach has previously labelled him a natural born goalscorer. Idah was all alone on the edge of the six yard box as a defensive ricochet spiralled towards him. That predatory instinct of being in the right place at the right time was matched by the cushioned touch on his chest and the emphatic half-volley.
There has been speculation this window Idah is a Championship loan target. Norwich have zero interest it letting him leave the building. If anything, continue in this type of vein and he will start to earn more and more Premier League exposure.
To have a player with his goalscoring instincts Farke can unleash from the bench if it is not happening for Pukki is a desirable commodity.
There may be another attacking addition if the cards fall right for Stuart Webber and his recruitment team, but either way Idah has started this campaign in the mood to make his mark.
Last season’s Championship title was forged on a defensive resolve and that clinical attacking edge. As Huddersfield’s 7-0 hammering proved on their last visit to Norfolk when Norwich moved through the gears they could be devastating. But in the main the bedrock of a second title under Farke’s guidance was that resolution woven around Tim Krul and his defenders.
Krul made a welcome return to the side after his extended break for Euro2020 duty. And a new addition to the family.
Ben Gibson and Grant Hanley have stepped up their returns from injuries in recent days at training, but were kept in reserve again. Nevertheless a second clean sheet in a matter of days, and only the one conceded at King’s Lynn on the opening night, is a useful platform.
There are clearly things Farke is seeking to add for the much tougher proposition in the Premier League. But he would dearly love to retain the miserly streak and the pride in clean sheets that carried them back to the top flight.