Connor Southwell: Vrancic’s quality has seen him cast as a super sub

Mario Vrancic - Norwich City's super sub. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Mario Vrancic - Norwich City's super sub. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Mario Vrancic is a quality footballer – you only need to watch him play to know that.

The Bosnian is the type of footballer capable of reminding you why you chose to follow football, whether it be the superb range of passing or the precise free-kicks, he is a joy to watch.

Daniel Farke is his biggest fan, the founding member of the Vrancic fan club. Often supporters question why the classy midfielder doesn’t start in games, something City’s boss puts down to concerns over physicality and mobility.

City’s win over Birmingham City graphically illustrated his quality again. At this level, the midfielder can be the decisive factor in games, as he proved on Tuesday.

When we record our live videos for our various social media channels, the same question always arises: Why isn’t Mario Vrancic starting?

City boss Daniel Farke is Vrancic's biggest fan. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City boss Daniel Farke is Vrancic's biggest fan. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd


You may also want to watch:


In Ollie Skipp and Lukas Rupp, City have discovered a partnership that offers them a degree of defensive security – although they still look open on the counter – and functionality.

Rupp, in particular, impressed. But those positions have altered from when Farke first assumed his position in City’s dug-out.

Most Read

Contrast and compare the players that occupy that double pivot now with how Farke lined up against Fulham on the opening day of the 2017/18 season.

The midfield three comprised James Maddison, Harrison Reed and Vrancic. All technically proficient footballers.

Vrancic scored the winner when City beat Reading 2-1 in 2018.
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Vrancic scored the winner when City beat Reading 2-1 in 2018. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

That’s not to say that Rupp and Skipp aren’t – but they do possess more industry and less creativity than operators like Vrancic or Moritz Leitner.

The scars of the Premier League have altered Farke’s view of what that double pivot consists of – it’s the reason Vrancic is now placed in the number 10 debate.

As a caveat, in games where City are dominating, such as the one on Tuesday, then deploying Vrancic in a deeper role to help unlock a door can still be effective.

For all the talk of a lack of mobility, it was Vrancic who was in support of Adam Idah to capitalise when the ball popped up into his path.

Vrancic celebrates his late strike against Reading.
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Vrancic celebrates his late strike against Reading. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

He possesses the quality to change results – every time he has scored after coming on a substitute Vrancic has turned the game and ensured City have either won a point or all three.

Goal one – a 2-1 win over Reading, September 19, 2018

Vrancic replaced Emi Buendia and was on the pitch for only five minutes when he scored the winner to secure a valuable three points for the Canaries in their title-winning campaign.

The Bosnian delivered the perfect response after Jon Dadi Bovardsson produced an equaliser for the Royals only a minute prior.

Vrancic netted a late penalty against Wigan in 2018.
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Vrancic netted a late penalty against Wigan in 2018. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The result helped build upon the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough that many credit as being the turning point of that season.

Goal 2 – a 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic, September 29, 2018

Vrancic replaced Todd Cantwell and got a longer run of 26 minutes in this particular fixture.

Jordan Rhodes had missed a penalty against West Brom so the responsibilty fell to Vrancic after Teemu Pukki was fouled in the area. He placed his penalty straight down the middle to ensure City won three points and stretched their winning streak to four matches.

Vrancic's penalty helped City sustain a four-match winning streak.
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus I

Vrancic's penalty helped City sustain a four-match winning streak. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Goal 3 – a 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, April 19, 2019

This contribution is perhaps the most memorable of them all.

Picture the scene – the clock has ticked past 96 minutes and Vrancic has just won a free-kick on the edge of the area.

As a packed Carrow Road waited with baited breath, he stepped up and curled it into the net to rescue a crucial point towards City’s promotion.

Vrancic's last-gasp free-kick against Sheffield Wednesday is his most memorable moment in a City shi

Vrancic's last-gasp free-kick against Sheffield Wednesday is his most memorable moment in a City shirt. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Goal 4 – a 1-0 win with Birmingham City, October 20, 2020

Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham City were stubborn defensively, but Vrancic once again produced the goods to help City claim their second win in successive matches.

When you add the assists the Bosnian has produced after coming on as a substitute in his City career – three – the tally adds up to a seven-goal contribution.

Vrancic will be now be hoping he can be called upon in Farke’s starting XI.

Vrancic celebrates his late winner against Sheffield Wednesday. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Image

Vrancic celebrates his late winner against Sheffield Wednesday. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

When City are piling on the pressure in search of a moment of quality capable of turning a draw into a win then Vrancic has the composure and skill to do just that. In the Championship that is pivotal. Especially as City look to take the burden off Pukki and seek to share the goals around.

Vrancic will be hoping to become City’s superstar rather than simply their super sub.

Mario Vrancic scored the winner against Birmingham City on Tuesday. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus

Mario Vrancic scored the winner against Birmingham City on Tuesday. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Super sub Mario Vrancic celebrates his late winner against Birmingham City last night Picture: Paul

Super sub Mario Vrancic celebrates his late winner against Birmingham City last night Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus