Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from relegated Norwich City’s abysmal 4-0 Premier League loss to West Ham
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his West Ham verdict after the Canaries’ abject 4-0 Premier League defeat.
1. Good riddance 2019/20
What a sad way to meekly exit the Premier League. Or perhaps it was entirely fitting Norwich treated us to fresh set piece vulnerability and toothless attacking output to gift struggling West Ham a precious win in their own relegation battle.
Norwich’s was effectively lost some while again. A seventh straight league defeat confirmed the inevitable. This was frankly embarrassing. Pride in the shirt? Talk is cheap.
Since football at the elite level returned - after a three-month pause for a global pandemic which should put City’s sporting demotion firmly in perspective - Daniel Farke and his squad have fallen a long way short.
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They will now crash land back in the Championship.
Maybe not all of them, despite Farke’s assertion players will only leave on City’s terms; not that on the evidence since the restart too many embellished their reputations.
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On the pitch this will go down as a desperately poor tilt at the top flight. Certainly the worst in the Premier League era. Injuries or no injuries. That is not a label Farke or those players want. But it is deserved.
2. Root and branch
The nature of how Farke and Stuart Webber operate should mean this summer will contain a forensic look at where the season unravelled. There will be factors outside the club’s control. Granted.
But City’s weakness on defending set pieces proved a recurring theme.
It was before the lockdown, it most certainly has since.
Everton, Watford and now West Ham all profited from a chronic failure to attack the ball, to mark men, to patrol an area inside their own penalty box. Twice in this game, if you count Michail Antonio’s header for his second from Mark Noble’s free kick.
This verges far beyond some theoretical debate about the merits of zonal marking. Farke was pressed on the topic after Southampton punished his side earlier this season on the south-coast.
His answer may have surprised many. He is not wedded to one system over the other, he merely deployed what he felt was the best way to use a squad not populated with the tallest of oaks.
Whatever has underpinned Norwich’s work in this sphere it palpably did not work. You might contend it did not work in the Championship either but was camouflaged by a barrage of goals at the other end. But it must be addressed from here.
3. Changes, changes
There was a little piece of history midway through a second half that was reduced to a training exercise once Antonio had completed his hat-trick.
Farke unveiled the first Norwich quadruple substitution in a competitive game. Adam Idah, Lukas Rupp, Josh Martin and Todd Cantwell were introduced. At this stage of the summer’s horsetrading you would confidently predict the first three will surely be part of the fightback.
Cantwell’s eye-catching efforts in the brightest part of his breakthrough season have already seen him touted with potential Premier League suitors. Even before those latest reports linking him with Sheffield United surfaced.
Farke was right on Friday to state the prospects of a concerted attempt from the Canaries at an immediate return will hinge on him keeping a rump of his best talent. That means where possible resisting offers for the club’s brightest stars, unless the financial numbers scale to a level City can simply not ignore.
Farke made it clear again pre-match they are under no financial pressure to sell. But there are many moving parts to these close season sagas.
A degree of churn is inevitable. On the evidence of the past few months it is absolutely essential to refresh and re-invigorate.
4. No messing
On the topic of transfers, expect Jacob Lungi Sörensen’s move from Denmark to be confirmed in due course. City have three more deals in the pipeline ready to go in the coming days.
Quite apart from the amusing saga of a very public pursuit for Dennis Man which, at the very least, hints at City’s ambition to be progressive and creative in the upcoming transfer window. Even if Man would appear not to be a viable option, should Steaua Bucharest’s outspoken owner be unwilling to lower his inflated valuation.
Allied to those training pictures of Sam McCallum, Melvin Sitti and Danel Sinani all at Colney this past week it should illustrate the planning - in terms of recruitment - is well advanced.
Now Webber and Farke know what is in front of them on the pitch they have to be bold off it; both in terms of who they can attract within the club’s sustainable model, and, as discussed above, who they feel will be part of the journey from this current roster.
5. Cruel on Klose?
The Swiss international remains a hugely popular figure in these parts. He stayed when perhaps he had chances to leave when the club slipped back into the Football League before.
In recent times Klose has spoken fondly of how Norfolk could even remain a base for him and his family when he retires.
You sense the affection is mutual.
But pressed into emergency service far quicker than Farke wanted after his long term knee injury, Klose’s lack of activity and lack of sharpness has been exposed. Such was his desire to help his team he willingly stepped into the line of fire.
You could argue Ben Godfrey left him with no option but to incur a red card in the FA Cup against Manchester United. But his wayward pass sparked Brighton’s match winner and here he was bullied by Antonio.
Klose barely lifted his feet off the floor for Antonio’s second, in first half stoppage time. Farke urged caution and low expectations when the experienced defender initially made his comeback from the latest injury interlude that had beset his Carrow Road career.
Most would hope there is still a positive chapter or two to write. But along with his team mates, he has not been up to scratch.