‘I think he should be a candidate for Young Player of the Year’ - Pundit praises style of Cantwell and Canaries
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Experienced BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce has hailed the talent of Todd Cantwell and urged Norwich City to stick to their principles in spite of the looming threat of Premier League relegation.
The long-serving BBC commentator covered City's narrow 1-0 defeat to champions-elect Liverpool at Carrow Road on Saturday evening and sympathised with the plight of Daniel Farke's team, sitting seven points from safety with 12 games remaining.
"Had they had Zimmermann and Hanley fit, the two centre-backs who played so well against Liverpool, through that autumn period, it might be a different story," Pearce said, referring to the injury crisis which so disrupted the first half of City's season.
"They've got youngsters of real talent in defence but they showed a naivety during those three months. They play in a certain way though, they have good technicians.
"Like Cantwell, what a good player he is, I think he should be a candidate for Young Player of the Year from what I've seen of him.
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"But I don't think they'll panic, this is a different Norwich City FC than we've seen before when they've been in the Premier League, it's really well set up behind the scenes, the academy, and I even think if they go down Farke will stay and they will give him the chance to bring them back up again.
"And rightfully so because he's a man who speaks with passion and honesty, I've got a great deal of admiration for him and this football club. Against Liverpool though, manful as they were, they were found wanting in the end."
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The Canaries couldn't keep the runaway leaders at bay though, with Sadio Mane coming off the bench and scoring the game's decisive goal in the 78th minute.
The victory has left Liverpool 25 points clear and looking almost certain to win their first title since 1990.
"They have a way of finding a way," Pearce said, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live after the game. "Southampton the first couple weeks of the season, 2-1, Villa away a similar thing (2-1 in November), it's happened time and time again for them this season, they do find a way.
"Conditions did play a part but I thought it was a game low on quality despite the effect of the wind and Storm Dennis, I thought they were below par, I thought Norwich did ever so well though. I feel really sorry for them, they defended with discipline and passion.
"One question I would say is the affect of the winter break, has it had any affect, have the players come back looking refreshed? No they haven't."