Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 0-0 Championship stalemate against Boro
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Middlesbrough verdict after Norwich City's 0-0 Championship draw.
1. No pictures on the scorecard
This was a raw-boned affair on a bitterly cold winter’s day at Carrow Road. Boro came to frustrate and as the match developed probe on the counter. Jonny Howson was the midfield master. Dael Fry bottled up Teemu Pukki.
Norwich failed to muster a single shot on target. That statistic alone tells you how well Neil Warnock’s side managed to suffocate the Championship leaders. Add in Emi Buendia’s latest red card with well over 25 minutes left in the contest and this should go down as an excellent point in the circumstances.
It would have been easier for Norwich to accept it simply was not going to be their day. In truth, Boro never tested Tim Krul with their numerical advantage.
Norwich have faced adversity many times already this campaign.
They find a way. Norwich can play much, much better. But if they continue to accumulate points when they are not firing the rest will find it difficult to reel them back in.
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- 8 WATCH: Delighted Delia Smith leads Canaries fans in Emi Buendia sing song
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2. Why always me?
Remember that shirt Mario Balotelli revealed back in the day playing for Manchester City? Buendia might want to see if he can borrow it.
Yet again the Argentine was at the centre of a red card episode. His third since the end of the Premier League season, when his frustration boiled over against Burnley.
But you had to feel a fair degree of sympathy at the manner of his second booking against Boro that is set to rule him out of the trips to Milwall and damagingly the promotion shoot out at Swansea.
The first yellow for a lunge on Howson was a desperate attempt to rectify his own mistake.
But a follow up from distance that ended with him trying to pull out of the challenge before he made contact with George Saville felt harsh. Yes, whether he needed to make such a challenge is fair comment given the tightrope he was walking.
Yet the manner Boro berated referee Keith Stroud to take action after the game eventually came to a halt was distasteful. Stroud appeared to take guidance/instruction from his assistant referee, as Saville climbed to his feet. None the worst for the minor collision.
Buendia could only turn and contemplate his latest self-inflicted exile. Maybe the fact he has form and his reputation is counting against him. Farke certainly felt it was harsh. Although was there was another post-match admission there was no need to give the official a decision to make.
3. Welcome to the Championship, Dimi
City’s new recruit must have wondered what he has let himself in for. This was a bumpy, muscular introduction to the Championship. Thankfully he will not face a Warnock side every week at this level.
But the manner Boro choked the space in wide areas limited the opportunity for Giannoulis to showcase his penetrative attacking forays. It took 56 minutes before he was able to flick the afterburners and cut inside Djed Spence to tee up Lukas Rupp.
There was ample evidence he will have navigate this getting-to-know you phase in some of his darts and lack of understanding with the movements of his new team mates, or the natural rhythm of City’s possession template. That will come.
He appears to have the pedigree and the athleticism to be a real asset.
Jacob Sorensen could indeed count himself unfortunate to make way after an elongated stint that started out as a makeshift necessity but by the end had looked an increasingly natural assignment for the Danish central midfielder. Xavi Quintilla could not even make the matchday 18.
Giannoulis is the man City have identified as Jamal Lewis’ longer term successor. He may well have learnt far more from an uncomfortable outing against battling Boro than a one-sided cakewalk.
4. Hot stuff Hanley
In a game of precious few chances, a game where Boro successfully nullified Norwich as an attacking force, City’s captain was imperious. There were numerous forays deep into enemy territory with the ball in the most promising moments of the first half.
There was also plenty of vital defensive interventions in his own box, with the visitors looking to embellish their work ethic with a set piece threat. Perhaps only one blemish on the day, when Rupp’s pass bobbled horribly to afford Howson a chance to test Krul late on. For the vast majority this was another demonstration of what a hugely influential figure Hanley now is.
This was his 23rd appearance of the league season. Given those persistent injury absences that have marked his Canaries’ career we are seeing why he was such a coveted addition with a consistent run of games.
In Ben Gibson he appears to have a perfect foil.
Even when Norwich were reduced to 10 men for the final quarter Hanley’s presence on the pitch offered reassurance.
5. Come in number two
Orjan Nyland will be unveiled in the coming days as Norwich’s second and final signing of the January transfer window.
The former Aston Villa keeper has agreed to join the Canaries on a short term deal that suits both parties.
There will also be an avenue to make it a more permanent arrangement. For that to happen Nyland will have to show not only he is a reliable back up option for Krul but someone, much like former loanee Ralf Fahrmann, who can push the Norwich number one to new heights.
Daniel Barden has furthered his cause hugely but regular loan football looks the next stage in his development beyond this season of discovery. To recruit Nyland is no reflection on the 20-year-old's mature displays during a time of crisis when both Krul and Michael McGovern were unavailable.
Farke suggested on Friday it would verge on irresponsibility not to try and source reinforcements for the run in.
Should McGovern’s services be retained when he returns from hamstring surgery beyond the end of his current deal this summer, then Nyland’s presence becomes even more important in the short and potentially longer term.
The Norwegian is on the comeback trail himself after a back operation in November but there is no question he showed enough at Villa to suggest he could solve a problematic hole in Farke’s squad.