Paddy Davitt: City's debt to Sorensen and McGovern
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Let us for a moment gently ease Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell out of the spotlight. Time to step forward Michael McGovern and Jacob Sorensen.
True, Cantwell and Buendia were mesmerising in the 2-0 Championship win against Cardiff City at Carrow Road that ensured City fans will pull back the curtains on Christmas morning looking down on the rest.
Buendia has been excellent for a number of weeks. The goals and the assists evening out in a reprise of his headline-grabbing antics the last time City cut a dash through this division.
Cantwell looked in the mood to finally put an injury-interrupted start to the campaign, plus those unwanted transfer distractions and public criticism from his coach over a lack of focus, behind him.
As he himself has stated on social media since the weekend it is all about looking forward now.
Set aside the negative drag from another transfer interlude spanning January, when the latest window re-opens, and on the evidence of Saturday’s clinical takedown of the Bluebirds the duo look a cut above in the Championship.
You could add Teemu Pukki, Max Aarons or Tim Krul to that definition as well. But Norwich have moved five points clear on the back of not just individual quality but a resilience and refusal to collapse in the face of a lengthy list of injuries.
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A penny for Sorensen’s thoughts when he returned to the changing room at Brentford in October to be told by Farke get ready for your league debut. At left back.
A position the Dane was not recruited for and to all anecdotal evidence since had never played before in his career.
There were inevitable signs of discomfort in those early outings deputising for the injured Xavi Quintilla. But perhaps the biggest compliment now to the young man is a fit-again Quintilla surely has a fight on his hands to reclaim the shirt.
Sorensen has added a greater attacking adventure in recent matches and by and large remained defensively resolute. It is a testament to his character and his self-belief. Which brings us to McGovern.
The Northern Irishman could have been forgiven for hearing the faint sound of a sharp intake of breath all the way back in Norfolk when he replaced Tim Krul at Stoke.
Krul has emerged as a talisman as well as still a top drawer keeper good enough to force his way back into the starting line up for Holland’s most recent Nations League ties.
McGovern was on a loser before the Dutchman had hobbled down the tunnel in the Potteries with a thigh injury.
But, much like Sorensen, whatever the immediate future now holds with Krul nearing a return to the ranks the experienced back up has let no-one down. Farke labelled some of his shot-stopping ‘world class’ over these past three games.
Like Sorensen, the pair have lost only once at Luton Town since the emergency calls came.
Farke sought to reassure the doubters when he labelled McGovern the ‘ultimate professional’ immediately after that hard-fought win at Stoke. This was a more recent eulogy carried in the Belfast Telegraph.
“Michael is never ill, never injured and always spot on. He prepares for games as if it's the World Cup Final,” said his head coach. “He knows everything about the opposition, even if he's not playing.
"You wouldn't believe it, but he even analyses their warm-ups. I would say he is a real role model for any player. In fact, there is no better one than Michael McGovern.
"Of course, it was not easy for him because he was not in the side, but he has delivered and I knew that he would deliver.”
After the latest Cardiff victory Farke also pointedly referred to the shifting dynamic of players returning from injury and the squeeze on starting spots.
But any who may start to feel frustrated at a lack of game time from this point would do well to speak to McGovern or perhaps even Sorensen should both be dipped out of the line up.
If Norwich achieve their stated objective come next May it will not be solely a triumph to lay at the talented feet of a Buendia, Cantwell or Pukki.
It would also be a recognition of those who had to emerge from the shadows. Think back to the title winning season of 2018/19 and how big an impact Mario Vrancic had towards the end of a campaign in which he actually made just 14 league starts.
Or the key goals Jordan Rhodes provided against Millwall and West Brom in a loan spell where he was largely the chief cheerleader to Pukki.
It takes so many moving parts to stitch together a successful promotion push. To this point, Norwich appear to have every base covered.