Michael Bailey: Six things learned from Norwich City’s sweet Sheffield United success
- Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images Ltd
Acrimony, controversy, late buses and lack of respect – Michael Bailey grinds out six lessons from a not so quiet Norwich City win at Sheffield United…
1 – Farke life is a pragmatic life
So much of that Burton draw is put in a better light for what Daniel Farke got out of his side at Bramall Lane.
Sure, the lack of mixing things up in midweek was as frustrating as it gets. But then you see City play Sheffield United with a perfect game plan and realise seven points from nine is probably better than what you’d have taken during the international break; to consider it without conceding a goal would’ve brought laughs.
The way Farke had his holding midfielders press out wide to help outnumber United on the flanks when they attacked proved too much for the hosts to work out.
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How City’s head coach has adapted what he wanted from his side, to fit the realities of the Championship, is the most promising part of their current improvement.
And as always, the best buy-in you can get to anything you’re trying to do comes in the form of three points.
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2 – All hail magic Yanic
In reality, he probably isn’t supposed to still be here. Summer speculation Yanic Wildschut was surplus to requirements meant if a move for him had come in, City may well have cut their losses on a pricey January signing.
But this is football. Things change in the time it takes to think they will – and in fairness, they changed during the summer rather than the last few weeks.
Even at right-back – never likely to suit Wildschut however much he wanted to give himself a chance – he was one of the brighter spots in pre-season, while his two starts in City’s opening games were ended due to City’s tactics and shape in Ivo Pinto’s absence, rather than Wildschut’s form.
Saturday had been coming. Every one of the Dutchman’s appearances this season offered a positive.
He has something different, he wants to adapt to what Farke wants – and City should embrace the player they now have.
3 – Trybull dancing in England
Speaking of players the Canaries should look to embrace, we’re now three games into Tom Trybull’s Championship career – and his late 10-minute Carabao Cup cameo against Charlton still pops into my mind.
The German midfielder’s short debut was so eye-catching in such a short space of time, the big question almost seemed too obvious. He was never going to look that comfortable so swiftly in the Championship.
And yet, he really does. He doesn’t give the ball away and has the priceless midfield gift of always making time for himself.
And as he especially proved at Sheffield United, he wants to get stuck in and really doesn’t want to be beaten.
Other players are starting to improve too – a nod here to Marco Stiepermann, who was also excellent at Bramall Lane – but the ease at which Trybull has settled is itself proof of what a good player City have in their ranks.
4 – It’s Wilder by name
The mix of Chris Wilder and Sheffield United is a match made in football heaven. He’s a Blade, they love him, and the size of that club was wasted in League One.
It shouldn’t be a surprise how well United have done or that it seems to have rubbed some people up the wrong way. Paul Lambert’s Norwich City – on a similar journey – did exactly that too.
So maybe when you have that intensity and passion, the histrionics are inevitable. Because that’s what most of Wilder’s performance was on Saturday.
His list of excuses was remarkable, including detailing his actions for being sent to the stands and yet not quite getting the fact his said actions were rightly punishable.
Time-wasting happens every week. It’s part of the current football furniture. Once Wilder starts addressing how one-dimensional and predictable his side was on the pitch, then he can move on from Saturday’s defeat.
5 – Football’s dark side needs light
I love football – but parts of it I truly hate, and this weekend there’s been far too much of it.
From the alleged incidents outside Bramall Lane, to bottles being thrown at players on to the Bramall Lane pitch, to fans on social media legitimising violence – any violent act at a football match is an inexcusable act, as it would be anywhere else.
Sure, they’re only so-called fans. Sure, someone did something seen as provoking the action. Sure, it’s only a minority.
Which is where the rest of us – clubs, supporters, journalists, football authorities, police – have a duty to make sure those found responsible for violence of any kind are brought to justice. To make sure other fans don’t excuse the actions, or just ignore them and let them get on with it, or believe it’s OK because it’s only a small, moronic element.
Even in football, that’s the only humane response there should be.
6 – Cup momentum will be tempting
This is a pretty hectic period for City with seven games in 22 days and even with Daniel Farke’s positive outlook towards the Carabao Cup, Tuesday night’s trip to Brentford will have him thinking.
The Canaries looked strong on the Bramall Lane pitch on Saturday, even come the seventh minute of added time.
Yet there will be several bodies Farke may fancy giving a rest come Griffin Park, if only to offer them some mental recuperation ahead of tricky games against Bristol City, Middlesbrough and Nelson Oliveira-loving Reading.
Fortunately City’s squad isn’t yet as small as they possibly planned it to be, and what may be of real interest is which players come in that have been on the outside of the XI since the international break.
If Farke can motivate Tuesday’s side to continue the momentum City have already built this month, then the Norwich head coach’s hand will be even stronger back in the Championship.
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey, Facebook @mbjourno and Instagram @mrmichaeljbailey