Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Premier League-bound Canaries' 3-1 defeat against Bournemouth
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Bournemouth verdict after Norwich City's 3-1 Championship loss.
1. Premier League, baby
We can get to Bournemouth in due course. Norwich’s place in the big league was confirmed without kicking a ball earlier on Saturday after both Brentford and Swansea City failed to pick up wins. Watford’s defeat at Luton Town was another boost in the pursuit of the title.
What unfolded at Carrow Road was an exercise in frustration. A rare sensation in a season of triumph.
To lose for the first time on home soil since Derby County’s smash-and-grab on October 3 2020 says it all. City’s consistency and relentless thirst for wins, clean sheets and points has set them apart.
Bournemouth look to be coming on strong but it needed a managerial change and some introspection one suspects. Likewise Watford. Norwich have done this by embracing continuity and trusting the process.
Canny recruitment, retaining their key players and some nuanced changes to how Farke has set up this Norwich vintage have proved an irresistible formula. Norwich will return to the Premier League a better team on and off the pitch.
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The enduring sadness was no supporters present to bask in this latest achievement under Farke. One or two lone voices could be here outside the stadium in the first half and a small burst of fireworks in the second period, before what sounded a larger group singing session after the final whistle.
When they return it will be to see the green and yellow mix it with the elite. That deserves to be the enduring memory from a day when it was very definitely mission accomplished.
2. Fizz goes flat
Norwich started in the mood to serve up another champagne solo. But Dimitris Giannoulis’ early red card tilted the game decisively in favour of the upwardly mobile Cherries.
Emi Buendia finished another sublime team goal to put Norwich in front and, in truth, the visitors were unable to match the intensity and the speed of thought and deed from Farke’s boys in a blistering opening quarter.
But Bournemouth arrived on the back of five straight wins, and with the type of attacking quality to punish the 10-man Canaries.
It looked a tough assignment with a full complement, given the job was completed hours earlier after those slip ups for others. Norwich were left seething at the manner of Giannoulis’ dismissal. In such a tight contest against two very evenly matched line up it proved a decisive episode.
Thumping strikes from Arnaut Danjuma and Lloyd Kelly underlined why you would not bet against the south-coast side following Norwich back to the big time.
3. Out of control
Giannoulis’ look of incredulity when referee Graham Scott brandished a red card for his challenge on Ben Pearson underlined what he thought of the dismissal. Farke’s vocal assessment in the immediate aftermath was just as clear. ‘You have ruined the game’ he bellowed at the official in the aftermath of the 17th minute incident.
Presumably Scott felt Giannoulis was out of control as he arrived a fraction later than Pearson to catch the Bournemouth player on the calf.
But the referee did not even award a free kick later in the first half when Grant Hanley was left hobbling after a brave block on Adam Smith. It is that seeming inconsistency which so frustrates supporters.
City have the joys of the video assistant referee ‘system’ to come when they return to the Premier League.
It would have been interesting whether the Stockley Park crew would have advised Scott to look again. Certainly for Giannoulis a three game ban for a straight red card will sting.
4. Bravo Buendia
A 13th goal of the season to go with the 15 assists. There was so nearly a 14th for the undermanned hosts in the second half, when he threaded a strike through the legs of Philip Billing but just past the right-hand post with Asmir Begovic scrambling.
Those are personal numbers which suggest he must be the front-runner for the club's player-of-the-year. Surely only Ivan Toney can lay a claim to deny him the same honour across the Championship.
The result might have gone against his side but the reverse league defeat back in September at Bournemouth was notable for the Argentine’s absence from the City squad.
His head coach revealed afterwards both Buendia and Todd Cantwell were left out for a lack of focus due to transfer window distractions. The duo remained, and how they have responded to play crucial roles in a promotion that will stand comparison with any achievement in the long history of the football club, given the unique circumstances over the past 12 months.
But Buendia has been the leading man. His impact has been vast, his skill a joy to behold. Alas, a fresh wave of transfer speculation this summer is as inevitable as his ability to play a killer pass or a composed finish.
Beat Watford back at Carrow Road on Tuesday and the handsome Championship trophy is heading back to the Canaries’ trophy cabinet. You can be sure Farke and his players would have happily settled for that teaser before a ball was kicked at Huddersfield on the opening weekend of the campaign.
Bournemouth needs to be forgotten quickly. Farke may even opt to use the sense of injustice at how this match swung away from his team as an extra sliver of motivation for the Hornets’ visit.
Norwich’s players will want to confirm their superiority. It was interesting on Friday to hear Farke additionally talking about the club records in their grasp. For a man who is not ‘addicted’ to the league table his understanding of what is still possible appears crystal clear.
These type of seasons do not come often in a player’s career. Farke and the leadership group inside the Norwich dressing room responded magnificently to early season setbacks. So too the long winning run after that loss at Swansea, which has effectively proved too much for the rest.
The manner of this Bournemouth defeat will hurt but expect the right response. It is in the DNA of this group.