Paddy’s Pointers: Five early observations from Norwich City’s German tour
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There is plenty of talking points already for Norwich City as the Premier League planning steps up out in Germany. Paddy Davitt focuses on some key topics.
1. How's your luck?
A penny for Daniel Farke's thoughts when in the space of four minutes in the opening quarter of the opening friendly of the summer he had to watch both Louis Thompson and then Ben Godfrey hobble past him.
Thompson, more than most, deserves never to see the treatment table again in his professional career.
There was a sharp deceleration and a grab of the right hamstring, after attempting to beat Andreas Voglsammer in a leg race. Farke indicated afterwards this latest layoff should be in manageable territory. But it is Godfrey's ankle that triggered the greatest cause for alarm.
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Especially given Christoph Zimmermann will miss the first few games of the Premier League quest and Timm Klose is yet to fully re-join team training. The sight of Jamal Lewis alongside Grant Hanley in the centre underlined the depletion to Farke's stocks.
Bielefeld's first goal owed everything to that lack of understanding, with Lewis guilty of a cheap turnover. Farke knows full well should Godfrey be ruled out for any length of time it may require an unscheduled foray into the transfer market.
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Although pictures of him on Monday at City's training camp without the protective boot on his left foot offer cause for optimism. This time last summer it was Lewis and Hanley on the sidelines nursing injuries.
Farke is right to adopt a philosophical tone this far out from the trip to Liverpool.
2. New boy bounce
Josip Drmic and Patrick Roberts slotted seamlessly into City's attacking unit, while Ralf Fährmann looked composed and controlled before being left exposed by a makeshift backline.
All three appear to possess the quality Norwich need to try and compete in the Premier League.
There is also a thread of astute recruitment the like of which brought Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki to the club.
Fährmann has a wealth of top flight experience in Germany while Drmic may have had his injury problems in recent seasons but even in a brief cameo in Gutersloh showed intelligent movement and cunning in how to manipulate his markers in tight spaces. Roberts was denied by a flying save and later drilled in the corner that led indirectly to Drmic's penalty.
A spell at Celtic followed by an injury-hit sojourn to Spain may have failed to propel him towards Manchester City's star-studded first team squad.
But there is undoubtedly a young player of promise and Farke has proved adept at not only trusting youth but extricating that richness. Norwich will need more fresh blood between now and transfer deadline day to equip the squad for the challenge ahead.
3. Bulky Buendia
Those regular social media updates posted by the midfield maestro over this summer recess working out in the gym were clearly not for show.
The Argentinian has returned to City duty boasting a more muscular physique.
If that extra power can be harnessed but not to the detriment of the balletic grace and technical flourishes he left on the Championship title-winning campaign then Norwich may have the type of X-factor player coveted by Premier League rivals.
A midfielder who can make the difference when the margins are so fine and the gulf to bridge, in so many respects, is vast.
One thing that has not changed since last season is the aggressive edge to Buendia's game, although given the rashness of his red card against QPR it should be duly noted there was no adverse reaction to two stiff challenges from Joan Simun Edmundsson that earned the Arminia man a deserved sending off.
4. Eye-catching Idah
The Republic of Ireland youth starlet must have savoured his second half cameo in Gutersloh.
It has been a dizzying few weeks for a talented teenage striker who this time last year was simply trying to prove he could make the step up to development football. Idah has cleared every hurdle put in front of him since arriving from Cork; which is why he is now a fully-fledged member of Farke's first team pool at Carrow Road. There will be no loan moves any time soon.
Idah speaks with an assurance and self-belief that indicates he is unlikely to be fazed by the elevation.
That is an essential quality. Idah is not a tourist in the touring party. His aim must be to emulate the likes of Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis and make that transition from the development pool. To do that when the end destination is the Premier League makes it all the harder.
But Farke clearly feels the young man is good enough to try.
5. Just remember
The real business begins in front of the world at Anfield on August 9.
Anything before that really is immaterial.
Be it the results, performances, the good or the bad. Farke revealed after Bielefeld struck late to snatch a draw he wanted to experiment in the remaining friendlies, to inject an element of surprise into how Norwich aim to attack the challenge of Premier League survival.
He finished the first game with a defensive three and two wing backs and pledged to do the same again at a suitable opportunity.
At this stage of pre-season the priority is the gruelling fitness work that inevitably takes the edge off City's endeavours against opponents, who like Arminia, are much further advanced in their preparations. Judge Farke and his players on Merseyside.