Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-0 Premier League defeat against Watford
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Watford verdict after the Canaries’ Premier League defeat
1. Cards on the table
Let's be honest here. Norwich City's football obituary in the Premier League was penned by most outside Norfolk before a ball was kicked in the top flight this season.
When Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber framed the challenge in terms of scaling Everest then it is hardly a surprise they now find themselves at the foot of the mountain.
Watford's fans taunted their rivals at the final whistle with chants of 'We're not bottom anymore'.
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Norwich were again toothless up front and punished for glaring individual errors.
The recipe is toxic. The numbers are horrendous. Nine league defeats in 12, 28 goals conceded in those 12 league games, only two scored since beating Manchester City.
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Yes, that did happen. With over two-thirds of this campaign left and the pending return of Christoph Zimmermann and Grant Hanley the other side of the international break, those willing to peer through the gloom may hang onto an optimistic thread or two.
But if the long march back to the Championship has begun in earnest, then the messaging from the top needs to be even louder, consistent and crystal clear.
Those who will be part of the fightback and those will be jettisoned needs to be sorted well in advance and new foundations put in place.
This cannot be a sad, dispirited limp back to the Football League and the mother of all hangovers, regrets and bitterness to overcome when they get there.
2. Everyone's a critic
You could put the pocket of boos on the final whistle at Carrow Road down to the frustration of a huge missed opportunity against a Watford team who arrived in these parts with the same self doubts and hunting a maiden Premier League win.
But there appeared to be a new front open up on social media in the sour aftermath.
It might be a minority but it was loud enough to be heard; those who feel Daniel Farke has taken this club as far as he can.
For those fans they do not want to hear about injuries or the fact he is attempting this with essentially the same squad who cut a swathe through the Championship.
You could justifiably reason without Zimmermann this starting XI is actually inferior. Certainly none of the small body of additions in the summer transfer window have really pushed themselves into regular contention.
The release of the club's latest accounts underlined that is how it had to be, and Farke again in the build up insisted he was fully on board.
But the architect of a remarkable ascent last season against that negative financial backdrop is the one front of house.
His call to retain the same XI who flopped at Brighton looked suspect before kick-off.
Alex Tettey preferred to Ibrahim Amadou - himself a makeshift option - at centre back, questionable. And the continued omission of Patrick Roberts from the 18 continues to baffle given the quest Webber embarked on to bring him here.
One thing is for sure, if results the other side of the international break fail to improve Webber is not a man for sentiment.
He made it clear in a recent radio interview he would be negligent not to have alternatives in mind if this heads south.
Farke knows scrutiny comes with the territory when results turn. He can expect that to intensify from here.
3. Personal responsibility
One charge you cannot lay at the head coach's door is the basic errors on a weekly basis that show no sign of abating.
Emi Buendia's attempt to trick Gerard Deulofeu got the same treatment as a similar lack of judgement against Aston Villa.
Farke went as close to a verbal tongue lashing as he has ever done in his post-match dissection of a 'nursery' mistake.
Buendia is a young man making his way at the top table but youth should not insulate these players from criticism.
Max Aarons has responded well to his positional issues in the defeat to Manchester United.
Ben Godfrey's urge to run the ball out of his own half inside the opening two minutes against the Hornets indirectly led to the turnover that put Buendia in the spotlight.
Jamal Lewis appeared momentarily transfixed as Andre Gray surged towards Deulofeu's cross, before a cheeky back heeled finish sealed the win.
The tariff is ridiculously high, the punishment for even a brief lapse in concentration unforgiving. But this is the Premier League. And these young players have to prove they truly belong.
4. Centre ground
Farke has two weeks to stew on the latest setback. You can debate whether he has good enough players to solve the puzzle.
But to paraphrase the man himself if the white flag is not going to be raised over Colney then he needs to strive for a residually effective template from the available resource at both ends of the park.
Adding Zimmermann to the mix of itself is not going to be enough to engineer a revival.
On the basis Farke would look to renew that partnership alongside Godfrey that swept City to the Championship title it frees both Tettey and Amadou to be dropped into a midfield mix which, for the most part at this level, has failed to offer the defence protection or Teemu Pukki support.
Mario Vrancic's late cameo in a losing cause was a positive sign. Vrancic, more than any other, was the catalyst to haul Norwich over the line last season.
But he now faces the same question whether he can make the step up.
If Farke decides the time has come for boldness then Todd Cantwell should also come into the central debate. Buendia, Marco Stiepermann and Moritz Leitner have failed their auditions.
Some of Cantwell's set piece delivery in the second half was wayward. But with Watford sitting deeper after Christian Kabasale's sending off he injected a greater energy and tempo in that area.
He also has the technical ability in tight spaces. That is his position.
Frankly, with an eye not only on this season but the next what would Norwich have to lose from a longer term trial?
5. Navel gazing is all the rage
Watford may have got a leg up at Norwich's expense. But the next two Premier League games on the resumption of the international break bring two clubs weighed down with a similar sense of frustration.
At least that is how it appears peering from the outside.
You can be sure the fans of both Everton and Arsenal look at the scale of inward investment and demand more that the current rations.
Everton travel to Southampton later on Saturday while Arsenal have a stiff looking assignment at Leicester. But neither club look to have harnessed genuine upward mobility.
Norwich must put their house in order first and foremost. A trip to Goodison Park in all probability comes too soon for Zimmermann but that starting line up on Merseyside may tell us plenty about Farke's mindset, and whether he has decided it is time indulge in more than tweaks or faith in the tried and trusted.
Freed from the cycle of striving for Premier League gains, this next fortnight may well be among the most important of his Carrow Road tenure.