Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' stirring 1-0 Championship win against Brentford
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Brentford verdict after Norwich City's epic 1-0 Championship win.
1. Champion result
This might well be the culmination of Daniel Farke’s work this season. There are still hurdles to clear but the manner, as much as the result against their closest challenger for promotion, was a statement night at Carrow Road.
Tactically, technically and talent wise, Norwich came to the party. The mere fact Tim Krul did not have a save to make in the entire second half against one of the league’s most fearsome frontman was a testament to the Canaries’ approach. Brentford had chances prior to the interval, but so did the hosts.
And a few more besides after the break to add to their lead courtesy of Emi Buendia’s brilliance.
You will not hear it uttered in public, but Stuart Webber, Farke and the rest behind the scenes can start to accelerate the planning for a Premier League return. That goes for the Norwich fans, who would dearly have loved to be part of this occasion.
They should get their chance against the biggest and the best later this year.
- 1 MATCHDAY RECAP: Dowell stunner puts City on cusp of promotion
- 2 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' spirited 1-0 Championship win against Derby County
- 3 Premier League here we come for City chief Farke
- 4 EFL announce revised schedule to avoid Prince Philip funeral clash
- 5 Farke makes a pact with City squad
- 6 'Our only concern' - Farke reveals City's promotion roadmap
- 7 Farke on Canaries records, Rooney and respecting the Rams
- 8 City boss too busy to worry about his contract at the moment
- 9 Spud Thornhill: Early days, but can City break that promotion record?
- 10 Dowell the difference at Derby as City close on promotion
2. The greatest showman
Buendia’s goal was worthy of the occasion. The assist that wasn’t, for Teemu Pukki just prior to the interval, would have been replayed on a loop for many days. Two high quality sides but the Argentine maestro was still a cut above.
The composure and the quality of his 10th goal of a productive season nudged Norwich in front.
Receiving the ball from Mario Vrancic down the City right he had two for company but glided between the Brentford duo before setting his sights on the inside of David Raya’s right hand post with a low curling left footed finish.
The arcing ball in behind for Pukki to test Raya in the final act of the opening period was in it’s own way just as beautiful.
Buendia’s serial appearances now in the divisional team-of-the-week should be a sign of things to come. Surely only Ivan Toney can lay claim to lifting the Championship player-of-the-season crown should Buendia and Norwich finish off a season hurtling towards the Premier League.
Whether that is the midfield talisman’s parting gift to the Canaries is for another day. But this was another graphic demonstration why he will be on the radar of the biggest clubs in the land.
3. Centre ground
Buendia may well romp another man-of-the-match vote. But how good were City’s two centre backs and two central midfielders? As individuals, as pairs and as a unit they were fantastic once Norwich got themselves in front.
There were a couple of moments of alarm when Ivan Toney escaped detection but on this occasion it was Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson who took the laurels.
In front of them, Kenny McLean covered the pitch like a man possessed. Olly Skipp snapped into perfectly-timed turnover challenges with aplomb.
Those two looked to be Farke’s preferred pairing prior to the Championship season getting underway.
Injury and Lukas Rupp’s emergence as a viable alternative interrupted the experiment. But since McLean has returned from period out due to coronavirus he has arguably been City’s most consistent performer.
When the dust settles, and Norwich can finally savour mission possible, the immense contributions of this quartet should not be undervalued. They have been the beating heart.
4. Too eager to please, Sergi
Formerly of this parish, Sergi Canos recently made it clear in an interview he felt Alex Neil did not give him a fair crack of the whip in a brief sojourn at Norwich after arriving with plenty of fanfare from Liverpool.
To be fair to Neil, Jacob Murphy’s emergence that particular Championship season had more to do with Canos’ swift departure than any lukewarm response from the Scot.
Canos played his part indirectly in Norwich’s previous title success with a big goal on a big day down the stretch to sink Leeds at Griffin Park. Both the Spaniard and the Bees should have accompanied Leeds out of the division last season but for a horrid late stumble.
You can be sure he wanted a statement performance back at Carrow Road. An early strike stung the palms of Krul but then a costly slip seven yards out had him beating the turf in frustration.
Then his risky pass was intercepted in the turnover that led to Buendia’s opener. His attempt to redeem himself faltered when Buendia fended him off as he strode purposefully towards the area.
One wishes Canos the best in his attempts to return to the Premier League, after his formative experiences at Liverpool. But his City spell will go down as wrong time, wrong place.
5. Give him a night off
Pukki failed to add to his seven goals in his previous five outings. He had his chances. David Raya outwitted him in that duel in first half stoppage time.
There was another fantastic stop from the keeper to claw out the right footed strike he loves to drag back across defenders into the bottom corner early in the second period.
Plus a few more clear sights.
Farke hit the nail on the head recently. He will score, he will miss. That is the life of a striker. But he was the talisman two seasons ago and however many more he manages to add to his current 18-goal haul he has now answered those questions whether he had lost his edge after a sobering second half to the previous Premier League campaign.
He should get another chance in the top flight to prove he belongs in such rarefied company. Those who were on the journey 12 months ago will feel they have a point to prove. Pukki has nothing to prove any more in a green and yellow shirt.