Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-0 Championship cruise against Nottingham Forest

Kieran Dowell rifled Norwich City's second goal against Nottingham Forest in the Championship

Kieran Dowell rifled Norwich City's second goal against Nottingham Forest in the Championship - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Nottingham Forest verdict after Norwich City's 2-0 Championship win.

1. Levels 

Norwich strutted around the City Ground with the air of a side on loan to the Championship. They are not just a cut above the rest, it is a chasm. A ninth straight league win opened up a 13 point gap in the race for automatic promotion that already feels like a procession. 

Teemu Pukki and Kieran Dowell struck inside the opening 13 minutes and from there it was only a matter of how many. Chris Hughton’s Nottingham Forest restored a modicum of pride after the interval.

Tim Krul was needed to foil Lewis Grabban, seconds after Luke Freeman’s swinging hit had flew wide of his far post. But after navigating those two alarms, Norwich cruised to the final whistle. 

Hughton has been recruited to add another promotion from this league. But the Reds look a long way short. To be fair to them, every team who has succumbed to Norwich on this nine-match faultless streak has been a long way second best. It is increasingly hard to to gauge where the measure lies.

Are Norwich simply that good or have the rest surrendered too compliantly? It matters not. Norwich will not be back at the City Ground chasing three points next season.  

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2. Two for the price of one 

Emi Buendia’s absence from the team sheet, following the birth of his second child, may have had one or two of the more pessimistic Norwich fans trembling. City, without the brilliant Buendia, is not usually a good look if you cast an eye over their record when he is unavailable. 

Dowell came in on the right hand side, with Lukas Rupp retaining his place in the centre of the attacking three behind Pukki. 

Buendia’s are big boots to fill. But Rupp’s double assist and Dowell’s first league goal in Norwich colours were the perfect riposte to the doubters. 

Dowell, in particular, looks tailor made for a Farke template; possessing the technical ability and balletic grace to mix up the palette alongside the likes of Buendia and Todd Cantwell.

His sweet left-footed strike from the edge of the area flashed past Jordan Smith before he could fully extend his body.

It should do wonders for a young man who looks, at least from the outside, to be the type Farke needs to fill with confidence to really express his undoubted talent. 

Buendia remains a vital cog in the machine but at this level Farke has options to soften the blow.  

3. Sign him up 

That pre-match baby news for the Buendia family back in Norwich means there could be another son of Norfolk starring for City in 20 years or so from now.

No pressure, but your dad is some act to follow. Wherever the Argentine’s career leads from here, the birth of his second son will forever root him within the East Anglian footballing family.  

One hopes his father can get enough sleep in the coming days to return against Blackburn, ready to mark the new arrival with a trademark celebration.  

Given the huge imprint he is leaving on the Canaries’ second tilt at a Championship title, the speculation around his future come this summer is inevitable. Stuart Webber is now well versed in this tiresome tango.

When the time is right, when it suits all parties, when perhaps the individual has outgrown his current club, a parting will surely follow. If all that applies to the 24-year-old then the hole he leaves will be vast.  

Perhaps indirectly Norwich’s display at the City Ground was a glimpse into a post-Emi world. But you can be sure Norwich would also look to bring in fresh blood - armed with a transfer fee that would smash their existing club record out of sight. 

On the bright side, we might only have to wait a couple of decades for another homegrown Buendia to dazzle. 

4. Can he be cloned? 

There is nothing more to be said about Norwich’s prolific striker. A 22nd league goal of the campaign set the visitors on their way. The sharpness of his turn and the unerring accuracy of his right-footed finish into the bottom corner was pure poetry.  

His blistering goal burst has propelled Norwich out of the pack and into clear water. He is on the cusp of a second Championship title winners’ medal, and at this rate still well in with a chance of overhauling Ivan Toney in the battle for the golden boot. 

But it was also refreshing to hear him speak in the build up about his rising excitement ahead of spearheading an historic first ever appearance at a major finals for his country. 

It remains to be seen whether the Euros remains a pan-European affair, or whether those reports it could be moved wholesale to the UK this summer actually come to pass.  

But it says everything about the man himself he cannot wait to achieve what he labelled ‘a dream’ with Finland. Not for him a sofa, feet up and a summer off to prepare for another tilt at top flight football.  

Nevertheless, there will be plenty of Norwich fans keeping fingers crossed he comes through unscathed, and without too many miles on the clock after a gruelling Championship tour, to lead the charge again for his club. He is priceless.  

5. Place your bets 

Farke was happy to concede after the win at Sheffield Wednesday his squad had secured a play-off spot.

Complete a hat-trick of wins this weekend now against Blackburn at Carrow Road and he might have to accept that is job done for a place in the Premier League. Norwich’s lead to third-placed Swansea is 13 points after this ninth straight league win.  

Albeit the Swans have a game in hand but there is no guarantee they will make the most of that after another sobering defeat on Tuesday.  

Should the Canaries deal with Tony Mowbray’s visitors then confirmation of the inevitable will arrive shortly after the international break. 

Just how special this achievement is will only become clear once the final whistle blows at Barnsley on the final weekend of the regular campaign. Then the clean sheets, goals, wins and points can be collated and placed in their proper historic context.  

But there is no doubt we are witnessing a stellar season on the pitch, in a time none of us who have lived through this pandemic will ever forget. In that regard this is a season unlike any other. For that reason alone it will stand alone. 

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