Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 1-1 Championship draw against Blackburn
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Blackburn verdict after Norwich City's 1-1 Championship stalemate.
No, not missing out on equalling that club record burst of 10 consecutive league wins. Daniel Farke and his squad will handle that disappointment. But the sight of Dimitris Giannoulis departing in the first half and then, more worryingly, Ben Gibson stretchered away later on was far more concerning.
Giannoulis took a fearful whack from a Blackburn arm in a mid-air duel and was unable to continue.
Gibson remained motionless behind the Rovers’ goal for a good five minutes after a full-blooded challenge from Darragh Lenihan. The full extent of his injury may only become clearer in the days ahead. Farke admitted having seen the pictures he feared the worst.
While Giannoulis must be a doubt to join up with Greece over the international break.
City have the squad depth but perhaps two injuries and a disjointed performance overall underlined the margins remain fine.
- 1 Webber reveals he turned down 'massive job' to stay at City
- 2 PRESSER LIVE: City v Watford - Hanley, Pukki, Cantwell injury doubts
- 3 Spurs loanee Skipp discusses his future and potential of Canaries return
- 4 'Blown away' - Gibson reveals how City wooed him for Premier League push
- 5 'I rate him. He's a fantastic player' - Farke open to Skipp return
- 6 City lose Giannoulis appeal; three-game ban stands
- 7 City ace Krul reflects on Premier League interest
- 8 Pressure on Hornets for title-hunting City
- 9 City players greeted by special messages from fan groups
- 10 'Good riddance' - Norwich fans react to European Super League plans
Norwich have the points on the board but they still have to seal the deal the other side of the break. They can do without any further injury complications.
2. Dowell. Discuss?
A classy assist for Kenny McLean’s goal demonstrated again Kieran Dowell is a player of some technical merit. There were also some other gorgeous first time passes and a teasing free kick whipped in for McLean to head over in the first period.
But when he departed for Marco Stiepermann in the final quarter you were left wanting more.
It was not the compelling audition one might have hoped for after excellent outings against Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest.
That mix with Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell behind Teemu Pukki remains a work in progress. At times, the way Dowell glided around the park was not quite on the same wavelength when you compare the manner Buendia and Cantwell drive with urgency and purpose.
It is understandable a relationship which previously had only come together for the Boxing Day defeat at Watford will need time to gel. But Stiepermann’s entrance added greater dynamism, and brought Pukki firmly into the game after operating for large parts on the margins. Allied to a more direct approach to bypass the Blackburn press.
Farke revealed afterwards he was tempted to take Dowell out of the firing line rather than roll him out for a second game in a number of days following an injury-hit season. The implication was perhaps he lacked the spark and the energy to fully grab control of this game. But until someone in this Norwich squad grasps the opportunity in that number 10 role the debate will continue.
3. No baby bounce
Buendia looked like a man on a mission to mark the recent arrival of his newborn son. A spiralling first half effort clipped the top of the bar before Thomas Kaminski denied him superbly with an outstretched right leg in stoppage time.
You could sense the Argentine’s frustration. The baby celebration will have to wait. Much like the rest of his team mates the first half proved a stodgy affair for the leaders.
But after McLean’s goal, Buendia began to exert his influence. Despite the likes of Lukas Rupp and Dowell softening the blow of his absence at Nottingham Forest, the 24-year-old is an integral part of the puzzle.
A fortnight off to focus on family matters and City then need him firing on all cylinders to power them over the finish line. Before we will see what the summer brings.
Quotes attributed to his representative in the Italian media on the eve of this game underlined his client will be a Premier League player next season. Norwich fans must retain hope that is in green and yellow.
4. Father time
The mutual respect between Blackburn substitute Elliott Bennett and his former Norwich team mate, Alex Tettey, was clear as the duo warmed up midway through the opening period. But so was the banter, with Bennett asked the veteran Tettey where his zimmer frame was.
The Norwegian is approaching the end of his current City deal. His length of service ensures the Canaries will look to reach a mutually acceptable solution for what happens thereafter. Tettey is scheduled for a discussion with Stuart Webber over this upcoming international break.
The man himself had earlier this season raised the prospect of moving into a coaching role and publicly declared how much he would relish learning from Farke. Whether City share the same view will become clear in due course.
Farke himself did not wish to be drawn on the futures of Tettey, Mario Vrancic or Michael McGovern for that matter on Friday. But there remains huge affection for Tettey among Norwich’s fan base. Reaching an outcome that suits all parties is the task.
Tettey is the type of character you would want to keep around this camp. A popular, experienced and ultimate professional. A role model to the younger elements in the camp. Even if his playing days are now winding down.
5. Fingers crossed
Norwich’s winning surge prior to the international break means they look uncatchable. To take 28 points from a possible 30 in this league is some feat.
But Farke is unlikely to be able to put his feet up. Not after two defensive injuries and his best talent set to be scattered far and wide across the continent playing for their respective countries. Even from Norwich’s lofty vantage they would not want to face the run in without any more of their key men.
The two week pause should at least give Farke and his coaches a chance to catch their breath. It has been a remarkable phase after a Swansea defeat that suggested it could be a bumpy ride in the promotion stakes. Norwich simply hit the accelerator and cruised clear.
Farke should use the next fortnight to reflect on a job well done - even if Rovers hit back at Carrow Road for a point they will feel they merited. He would not seek to take the credit away from his troops but given he started this season knowing the brief was promotion, and having exhausted much of his credit from a dismal exit from the Premier League, he has managed himself and the season thus far magnificently.
The last thing he needs, however, is any more bad injury news from his international contingent. Particularly with that excessively tight turnaround for a Good Friday trip to Preston.