Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the title-winning Canaries' 4-1 Championship romp against Reading

Norwich City's squad celebrate the Championship title after beating Reading 4-1

Norwich City's squad celebrate the Championship title after beating Reading 4-1 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Reading verdict after Norwich City's 4-1 Championship triumph sealed the title.

1. Champions 

What a team. What a season. What a way to wrap up the Championship trophy, after sealing promotion back to the Premier League a couple of weeks ago.

Reading were bright and energetic and caused City some uncomfortable first half moments.  

But once Kieran Dowell levelled there was only one side in this. Rafael Cabral was on a one man mission immediately after the restart, but after Dowell added his second the dam burst. It was clinical, it was ruthless, it was Norwich City.  

In the end it did not matter in the final shakedown with nearest rivals Watford slipping up at Brentford. But that is not how this side roll under Daniel Farke. After the inevitable lull, and all those mitigating circumstances around home defeats to Bournemouth and the Hornets, City have slipped a gear again.  

In a season unlike any other before or, we hope, to come in the future, they have written an unforgettable chapter. Get that karaoke machine plugged it. It could be a long night.  

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2. Legacy 

Farke now has the distinction of being the only Norwich City ‘manager’ to win two titles at this level in the club’s history. But as the German himself said upon accepting his well deserved Championship manager-of-the-year at the Football League awards on Thursday, without his team behind him he is nothing.

At the final whistle confirming his side’s coronation there was a small fist pump before turning to embrace his coaching staff.  

This has been a collective effort but Farke was the man front of house. He was the one taking the flak during that endless ‘Project Restart’ era, when defeat after defeat sapped all the joy and enjoyment out of a top flight tilt that started in such thrilling fashion after the most unexpected of Championship promotions. 

Not this time around. This was expected. This was demanded. For all Stuart Webber’s public backing following relegation, Farke had to deliver.  

To do so against the backdrop of losing two of his best young players, and the endless speculation around others. To handle the hangover of demotion, to cope with the loss of key players through injury, or periods of isolation due to coronavirus. No Norwich manager has surely faced such adversity.  

Now he will take his team back to the Premier League. He more than most in this green and yellow collective deserve to be back in the limelight. Once he dries out after being drenched by his celebrating players following this game.  

3. Dowell’s case for the defence 

Pre-social media boycott, if you had taken the temperature in some quarters of City’s online support then Kieran Dowell still had to convince he could be the answer to that attacking midfield option behind Teemu Pukki. 

Dowell was certainly purchased from Everton as the longer term solution to a situation that was graphically highlighted in the last tour of the Premier League, with the failed loan spell of Ondrej Duda.

Ankle surgery following the opening Championship home game curtailed the 23-year-old's bid to make a huge impression.  

But his first half finish to drag Norwich level was his fourth goal in an extended run since his return from injury. A fifth followed after the interval, after he had been denied superbly by Cabral. That is the type of productivity which had eluded Mario Vrancic in his previous occupation of the ‘number 10’ role.

That stunning free kick winner against Derby County also underlined Dowell is a special talent. But the next stage is to exert this type of influence over City’s attacking endeavours on a regular basis. He needs to stamp his personality on Norwich’s Premier League return.

Do that and those lingering doubters will fall silent. 

4. What next, young man? 

Andrew Omobamidele is not a name too many Norwich fans would have heard of before a ball was kicked this season. Apologies to those who keep a closer eye on the club’s emerging development talent. But they know the name now.

The 18-year-old was pitched in at the deep end following those season-ending injuries to both Ben Gibson and Christoph Zimmermann. 

His full debut at Preston had that nasty twist when the hosts’ late, late equaliser went through his legs. But it was still a hugely assured offering. But maybe the sense of occasion and the adrenaline got him through. Certainly it was far too small a sample to judge his readiness for first team combat.

Six full games later and he looks just as assured. The talent is clearly not in doubt, but it is the temperament and the composure that must be getting the likes of Farke and Webber very excited. Omobamidele has done everything asked of him.

To use Farke’s analogy with young players, he has confidently stepped through that door. But whether his progress is best suited as part of a Premier League squad, or on loan next season to further his development, is one of the delicate decisions to be made over this summer.  

5. Goodbye. Good riddance. 

In the final seconds of City’s final home game of their title winning season, the unmistakable strains of ‘Yellows’ floated up outside Carrow Road. The fans were not just here in spirit, more than a few were here in person.

But inside the empty stadium it was left to Farke’s players to lead the celebrations at the final whistle.

The joy and the warmth of the embraces between players, coaches and backroom staff was obvious. But there was something missing. There has been something missing all season. And the back end of the previous one. 

With the government’s road map and vaccination roll out appearing to tack in a positive direction with each passing week, one can only hope the next time City emerge at Carrow Road they will be greeted by cheers and roars from the terraces.

In a bleak period, Farke has talked often about playing on to try and bring some comfort and some distraction to the lives of their supporters. Those fans have a team to be proud of.

This summer cannot pass quickly enough. The countdown to the Premier League, and the return of the faithful, starts right here.   

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