Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s brave 2-2 Premier League draw against Tottenham
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Tottenham verdict after the Canaries’ 2-2 Premier League draw
1. Raging against the light
If Norwich are heading south they will not, to paraphrase Daniel Farke, raise the white flag. City were brave, aggressive and willing to mix it with Jose Mourinho's high rollers.
There was another unwanted VAR episode the Canaries fell the wrong side of and, it must be noted, another self-inflicted error from Tom Trybull in the lead up to the penalty crashed home by Harry Kane to earn Spurs a point.
In normal circumstances, the Canaries would merit every plaudit going. But given they have failed so miserably against the clubs around them at the bottom of the Premier League standings the full time whistle made it impossible not to escape the sense this was a missed opportunity to put relegation rivals on notice.
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2. Mighty Mario
Mario Vrancic, at the peak of his powers, is a thoroughbred of a central midfielder. He might not be the player you want when it is backs-against-the-wall and brawn over brain is the currency of choice.
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But if you want someone to see pictures other do not see and have the technical ability to execute and manipulate a football there are few peers in this Norwich squad.
The first half goal was all about composure and a clinical intent at the defining moment, as Paulo Gazzaniga advanced to calmly sidefoot it past him into the bottom corner.
There was another frankly ridiculous pass with the outside of his left foot as he fell to the floor in the centre circle that carved out a chance for Onel Hernandez.
But that spotter's badge pinpoint diagonal chip controlled by Teemu Pukki was a thing of beauty.
It deserved more than to be chalked off at Stockley Park but yet again there was enough evidence Vrancic should be accommodated in Farke's midfield, and the right scaffolding then placed around him to let him shine.
The heavy bang he took to his neck region limited his impact before his second half substitution. But, if fit, he must be involved against Crystal Palace.
3. Where next?
For Norwich, it might still ultimately be a one way ticket to the Football League. But at least that would mean no more VAR interruptions, unless the Championship intend to follow suit any time soon.
After the Manchester United penalties, the Arsenal re-take and the Chris Basham red card over-rule against Sheffield United, Pukki was adjudged to be offside before he collected Vrancic's pass to roll the ball beyond Gazzaniga.
This being VAR of course nothing is straightforward. Either in the application, the communication or the story. Some in the immediate aftermath wanted to suggest Pukki was a fraction offside at the moment the ball was played. Others took to social media to argue he was offside earlier in the play.
Either way, the reaction to Kevin Friend's confirmation of the latest decision from a control centre hundreds of miles away was met with predictable fury inside Carrow Road.
If it is here to stay in English football, it is not even a work in progress at present. It is an irritant.
4. Jose's soothing words
There was a warm eulogy for Norwich from Tottenham's high profile coach on the eve of battle.
Mourinho spoke about how City's 'arrogance' was something he admired, their desire to play a brave brand of football, and the fact their lowly league status and slim points haul bordered on an illusion.
It was an echo of the manner Jurgen Klopp hailed the 'cheeky' Canaries approach at Anfield on the opening night.
Farke's boys certainly lived upto that Mourinho billing with a performance of passion and quality. The Portuguese was forced into a double change at the break and a new shape to try and combat the hosts.
In the final analysis it does nothing for Norwich's league status but at face value it does underline the framework of Farke's football template could work at this level. With the right tweaks, further reinforcements to the squad and growing experience.
5. New year, new start
City ring in 2020 against Crystal Palace at Carrow Road. They waved goodbye to 2019 with the sort of display they routinely served up on that marvellous Championship title winning surge.
It was only fitting the final memory of the year was a reminder of their attacking verve, the vibrancy of youth and the predatory instincts of Pukki - before VAR intervened to deny him a 40th Canaries' goal.
It might not feel like it when City fans glance at the current Premier League standings, and the chasm to safety, but this has still been year where their club picked them up and carried them along on a thrilling ride of more highs than lows.
With the right management on and off the park they also have the financial platform now to push on.