Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 defeat against Leeds
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Paddy Davitt delivers his Leeds verdict after Norwich City's 2-1 Premier League defeat.
Not in effort or a collective desire to deliver the required response from Norwich City after that Chelsea hammering. But certainly in the quality threshold required to compete in the Premier League.
Certainly in the belief levels, which after Rodrigo rifled Leeds back in front visibly drained from the hosts. Ilian Meslier was a spectator when he should have had an uncomfortable passage to the final whistle.
Add in the basic, individuals errors from Ozan Kabak and then Tim Krul that gave Leeds the points in the match-deciding act and the mix is toxic.
There was a streetwise edge to Leeds in how they sought to run down the clock, to disrupt and disturb that contrasted with a naivety from the Canaries.
Daniel Farke made changes and by the end had a battery of forward thinking players on the park. But it was a jumble, a mess and the air of resignation hung heavy across Carrow Road at the final whistle.
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City now prop up the rest eight points from safety. The gap is so, so, so much bigger than that.
2. Call answered
Stuart Webber’s calculated gamble, perhaps, in the build up to poke the City fan base had the desired effect. Webber asked City supporters ‘not to give up on us’ and to bring the noise.
They certainly stuck with Farke’s players right to the end.
There was an inevitable frustration expressed at the final whistle, after another loss against a team who exhibited similar frailties for long spells at Carrow Road, given their own struggles for upward mobility.
But this was not in the same ball park as the anger that followed Watford’s away win earlier in the campaign.
City fans do not need instruction in backing their players and showing their loyalty.
But Webber, Farke or anyone else inside the football club could have no complaints. At present, there is precious little evidence or hope this is not heading the same way as relegation the last time around at the top table.
Webber also made it clear there will be no knee jerk reactions, no panic measures regarding Farke and his job prospects.
The feeling inside the camp is Leeds marked the start of a five game swing of fixtures that could alter the mood music. But this was more of the same, depressingly monotone tune.
3. Show of faith
Andrew Omobamidele’s inclusion in the City line up was not great surprise, with Ben Gibson suspended for his Chelsea red card. But a deployment on the left of a back four was an eyebrow raiser.
The youngster has emerged as a centre back of some promise, who is now a fully fledged Republic of Ireland international as well as a Championship title winner and Premier League debutant. Not a bad body of work for someone still in his teens.
Ombamidele’s pace against Leeds dangerman Raphinha appeared a key factor in his positional switch. Not that Dimi Giannoulis is exactly slow. But the Greek has found himself on the wrong side of Farke’s dividing line after both heavy defeats against the elite.
There were some alarming lapses of concentration in the earliest stages. Understandable perhaps in the circumstances.
But his confidence on the ball and his composure to step into midfield underlined this is a rapidly maturing operator. But it was the character he showed in a see-saw minute or so after the break which spoke volumes.
Isolated again by Raphinha, he allowed the man-of-the-match to veer inside and smash an opener through a crowd scene. But the 19-year-old did not cower. He rose majestically to glance home Milot Rashica’s corner.
Respite proved temporary, but what a rush that must have been for a young man who grabbed his chance in another losing effort.
4. Warrior Hanley
City’s captain has had his own rocky spells already in a season of pain. The Scot had to front up and issue a public apology for the dire display from him and his team mates at Stamford Bridge. A response was required.
Hanley led from the front in the first half with his reading of the game, illustrated by a goalline clearance after Dan James had veered around Krul.
There was also a collection of key interceptions to thwart Rodrigo. But towards the end of the opening period he appeared to wince playing a pass back towards Krul.
At one point thereafter the keeper signalled to the bench a change was required. Hanley thought otherwise and not only reached half-time but appeared at the head of the queue from the tunnel for the second period.
There was a woeful pass straight to Raphinha, but Hanley hared back to block a cross, typifying his influence and his leadership.
He did eventually disappear late on as Farke whittled through his roster in a bid to salvage the game. The situation looks bleak, maybe even irretrievable already, but any chance of a fightback will have Hanley at its heart. Whether it this season or next remains to be seen.
5. Dowell dilemma
A big day for many in green and yellow. But particularly a player making only a second Premier League start for the club, and his first minutes in the top flight since a defeat at Arsenal in early September.
Farke indirectly delivered a warm eulogy recently, when he explained why the former Evertonian had kept Todd Cantwell out of the matchday squad against Brighton. It essentially revolved as much around Dowell’s attitude and professionalism day in day out, as any reflection on Cantwell.
But what City need so desperately is a genuine creative edge to unlock tight, well-drilled Premier League defences.
This was not the statement he would have wanted to deliver. The radar was off on too many set pieces, although his willingness to run in behind and stretch the play did fashion an excellent chance for Rashica.
The problem Dowell has is he needs to grasp every opportunity that comes his way. Farke, or the Canaries for that matter, simply do not have the time to wait for him to find his feet.
Asking anyone in this squad to dictate top flight games is some ask.
But Dowell certainly has a better chance than most with his talent and technical prowess. Yet he will remain on the margins until we see it on a regular basis.