Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 Championship win against Sheffield Wednesday
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Owls' verdict after Norwich City's 2-1 Championship comeback victory.
1. Champion response
The wheels came off in the first half at Hillsborough. Daniel Farke stuck on top of the range alloys for the second.
A tremendous comeback that had championship class stamped all over it. Sheffield Wednesday were excellent prior to the interval. Barry Bannan pulled the strings from deep, Jordan Rhodes fired them in front and Norwich’s work looked laboured. It as if the wet and wild conditions had sapped all that composure and quality everyone in this league knows they possess.
Whatever Farke said to stoke a response in the second half should be bottled. Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell smashed in sublime efforts. Norwich pressed with intensity and aggression.
Tim Krul was a virtual spectator. It was another demonstration this group can go toe to toe, as well as paint the pretty brushstrokes. Their lead restored to 10 points and the Premier League another step closer.
2. Showman Todd
- 1 City transfer rumours: West Ham show interest in £30m rated Aarons
- 2 Transfer rumour: Canaries interested in Celtic defender
- 3 Webber will continue to be 'brutally honest' at City
- 4 No West Ham contact for Aarons; Drmic wage hike unlikely
- 5 Former City boss to leave post at the end of the season
- 6 David Freezer: Emotions bubbling for City as Watford tee up a proper title race
- 7 City hot-shot out to prove point in Premier League, claims ex-Canary
- 8 QPR forced to deny manager is leaving ahead of City clash
- 9 'We want to top this season off properly' - Krul's message to fans
- 10 Webber reveals he turned down 'massive job' to stay at City
What a way to grab the headlines from Cantwell. He had it all to do when he controlled Emi Buendia’s pass just inside the Owls’ penalty area but the speed of thought was matched by the stunning execution.
Barely had he brought the spinning ball under control and he was opening up his body to whip the most exquisite left-footed finish past Kieren Westwood into the top corner.
It was a majestic intervention from a player who is now delivering the goals his talent warrants at this level.
Two in his last two, five for the season and surely more to come down the strech. Farke had no hesitation in restoring him immediately to the line up for the previous win over Luton Town after missing a couple of games with a calf issue.
He is now an integral part of this potent attacking spearhead. His understanding with Buendia and Pukki is powering Norwich to the finish line. This was another mature offering.
He was buffeted and battered on occasion, with Sheffield Wednesday’s defenders clearly identifying him as a major threat. Farke revealed afterwards he was withdrawn after a kick on his Achilles. But he kept his cool and delivered in devastating fashion.
3. Unsung heroes
Farke could see the funny side of a fifth monthly snub in the Championship manager-of-the-month reckoning on the eve of this game. Cardiff City’s Mick McCarthy claimed the spoils.
Farke, with tongue firmly in cheek, pointed out even his previous title triumph at this level was insufficient currency to lift the divisional manager-of-the-year. A feat that earned Marcelo Bielsa the prize last season, as well as a nomination for Fifa world coach of the year.
But on a serious note, Farke also made it clear an award or two for his mantlepiece would also be recognition for his coaches, analysts and all the backroom staff who put in the hours to allow his players to shine where it matters.
The relentless nature of Norwich’s second half surge at Hillsborough, as the Owls wilted after going into the red zone prior to the break, underlined again Norwich must be the fittest squad at this level.
That ability to turn games late on is a throwback to their success two seasons ago. It is a testament to the appetite of the players to keep going but also the conditioning and the fitness and nutritional support network operating in the shadows. Three points you suspect earned in this manner is better recompense than a monthly award.
4. Top notch Gibbo
Fair play to the Burnley defender. That first half was as difficult as he has had in a Norwich shirt. Gibson was an injury doubt on Friday, with the hamstring issues that Farke attributed to a heavy workload in green and yellow this season after two years in the wilderness at Burnley.
One could understand entirely why Farke wanted to keep Gibson at the heart of his backline. The Clarets’ loanee has been superb alongside Grant Hanley, and his ability to bring the ball into midfield has been a key part of City’s ability to deconstruct Championship rivals.
But he might have been reconsidering his decision after he desperately hauled back Josh Windass, in the move that eventually brought the Owls’ opener.
There was a number of intercepted passes as well in the opening period, almost as if that early hesitancy and any hamstring twinges were playing on his mind. But he responded like his team after the interval.
There was a vital near post block to halt a Sheffield Wednesday counter and far more assurance to his overall game. Norwich have not simply sourced a decent footballer, they have the perfect type of character.
5. He smells goals
You feared the worst when Rhodes was included in the Owls’ line up for his first start under new boss Darren Moore. Rhodes remains a hugely popular figure with many Norwich fans for his impact in a season long loan that ended with a title winners’ medal at this level.
Less so perhaps for his role on the pitch, given Pukki emerged the main man in 2019, but for his bubbly personality and his popularity with team mates and fans alike.
But Rhodes is paid to score goals for Sheffield Wednesday.
Those predatory instincts remain as sharp as ever after reacting quickest to Joey Pelupessy’s deflected shot to calmly roll the ball past Krul from close range. But Rhodes’ energy and appetite for work also appeared to unsettle Hanley and Gibson at Hillsborough prior to the break.
With the experienced striker out of contract this summer there might still be some who would like him back at Carrow Road.
That ship has sailed. But this was a painful, if not damaging, reminder of why Farke labelled him one of the Championship’s best ever in the build up.