Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-0 Championship defeat at Nottingham Forest
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict following the City Ground defeat
1. A word to the wise - Daniel Farke’s honesty is an admirable trait. The manner he dealt with the fall out from Nelson Oliveira’s Fulham antics and what he labelled Josh Murphy’s ‘unprofessionalism’ prior to the win at Middlesbrough earned him plenty of kudos with Norwich City’s fan base.
Talking about the importance of the name on the front of the shirt and the privilege of representing this club play well with the wider public.
But claiming a fifth game without a win in the Championship at Nottingham Forest was the ‘best away performance of the season’ drew a stinging response on social media from a support base becoming increasingly frustrated.
Yes, City’s play was measured and much closer to the smooth passing rhythms Farke clearly wants to see.
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But those wins at Sheffield United, Middlesbrough and Ipswich were far more appetising for one simple reason. League points, not style points. That is the name of the game.
2. Unacceptable rations - Let this statistic sink in.
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Norwich City have scored only twice in a Championship game since August 19. That 2-1 win at Reading is the rarest of commodities.
Is it any wonder you can almost feel the intake of sharp breath among the players when they ship a goal? Right now, it is terminal. So it proved again at the City Ground.
Farke’s side created situations of promise in and around the vicinity of Jordan Smith’s goal, but the lack of conviction is painful to watch. Oliveira’s dipping free kick was as good as it got in the East Midlands. The German is on record as saying in Oliveira and Cameron Jerome he has two of the best in the Championship. Time to see it.
3. Better, boys - One facet of Farke’s upbeat post-match assessment was undeniable. Mario Vrancic turned in his best league shift.
The Bosnian was paired in tandem with Harrison Reed in a central two, and the Southampton loanee seemed another in the visiting line up who enjoyed a footballing contest against the Reds.
The duo were afforded time and space to get on the ball and try to make the most of such freedom.
With Tom Trybull unlikely to return this weekend and Alex Pritchard and Alex Tettey still on the comeback trail, it may be a pairing that gets another shot.
If Vrancic, in particular, can back up an encouraging display on home soil he may at least start to force some of the doubters to re-think.
4. Time to panic? - No, but if this current flatlining in results continues much longer Norwich will be nearer the bottom three than the top six of the Championship. To be fair, there have been no grand predictions from those at the helm at any stage over this campaign.
No promotion sound bites to echo last season’s rash mantra from the previous management or chief executive.
But nevertheless those inside and outside Carrow Road would expect better than mid-table mediocrity.
Setting aside the huge turnover in personnel, a new structural approach and debilitating injuries - which now includes Timm Klose, who departed the City Ground with a hip problem - this is not good.
Not by a long way. A work in progress is fine but ‘progress’ at this juncture is proving elusive.
5. Karma? - Struggling on the road, struggling at Carrow Road. And who rides into town next? Alex Neil. Rest assured a man hell bent on proving a point or three. Neil was jettisoned to pave the way for a bold, new era, spearheaded by Stuart Webber and Farke. Neil has had his ups and downs at Preston this season but returns to Norfolk buoyed by a 2-1 midweek win at Bristol City.
The mood is already irritable.
Paul Lambert tended to enjoy his reunions with Aston Villa, for the most part. The sight of Neil, Frankie McAvoy and Dean Kiely beaming from ear to ear around 5pm this Saturday is not a pleasant scenario.
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