Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from slick Norwich City’s 3-1 Championship win against Birmingham City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Carrow Road
1. Boring, boring Norwich
No goals, precious few shots, prolonged spells of lateral passing. The second half at Carrow Road was just the ticket.
Daniel Farke’s squad perhaps dispelled the myth they can only operate at full volume with the throttle wide open.
Norwich did the damage in the first period with three goals in 12 minutes, plus Che Adams’ equaliser for good measure, and then proceeded to stick. There was still the odd attacking flourish, positions of promise not taken, but no naivety, no cavalry charge leaving Tim Krul exposed.
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Norwich even did the business defensively at a number of late Birmingham corners.
Any team with serious aspirations of lasting down the stretch on the road to the Premier League will need to shutdown games, take the heat out and control the tempo. Norwich simply squeezed the air out of any concerted Birmingham fightback in the second period. Low on entertainment is not always a bad thing.
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2. Touchpaper lit for TT?
Tom Trybull may not have been the universal choice to replace the injured Alex Tettey. Perhaps those who braved the howling wind and rain away to rejuvenated Hull City remembered how he failed what felt like a big audition, after a limited role in the club’s Championship charge.
The lines were word perfect against Birmingham.
Trybull will have known had he not performed in this game there might not have been another chance with Tettey expected to return shortly, Louis Thompson getting minutes under his belt in the development squad, and Kenny McLean now a frontline option.
The goal was the icing on the cake but the manner he roamed free, the willingness to put his foot in when required, and the productive pairing he forged alongside Mario Vrancic bode well for an extended run, in the short term at least.
Trybull may have profited from a Birmingham side happy to sit off and let Norwich’s deeper lying midfielders dictate. But he grasped his opportunity in only his seventh Championship start of the season.
3. Golden delight
Teemu Pukki took his growing league tally to 16 for the season to move alongside Tammy Abraham and Billy Sharp at the head of the Championship goal charts.
That may change later this weekend yet if the prolific Finnish international continues at this rate he will take some beating in the scrap to seal the golden boot in the second tier of English football.
Enough has already been said about the astuteness of the business that brought him to Carrow Road.
When you see the selfless endeavour, the quality movement and the cool touch to divert Jamal Lewis’ cross at the near post, to open the scoring against Birmingham, you can only marvel at how the unassuming 28-year-old was ever available on a free transfer.
Every goal and every headline may bring unwanted speculation in this mad month of all months. But Pukki strikes you as a footballer with a well developed sense of self and an appreciation both of his current surroundings and status.
Stay fit and healthy and he could be spearheading City’s attack in the Premier League.
4. ’No Mas’
Farke was well within his rights to point out the rough ride Emi Buendia got in a 39-minute cameo crammed with invention, technical quality and another assist to add to his growing collection, before one blow too many proved his undoing.
Buendia’s artistry and effectiveness inevitably will get him noticed on the circuit.
You can be sure the secret is out amongst Championship rivals who on a weekly basis appear keen to get up close and personal.
Farke was quick to point out that comes with the territory for such a creative midfielder, but the officials must also intervene to ensure the line is not being crossed.
Effectively kicking Buendia out of this contest deprived home fans of seeing more of his wonderful awareness and array of skills. Farke hailed City’s medical staff for getting Buendia back ahead of schedule after a recent ankle injury.
He may need to ask for an encore if the 22-year-old is to be fit and available for the upcoming visit of promotion rivals Sheffield United.
5. Feet up. Relax
Friday night football might not appease the purists but after doing a number on Garry Monk’s below-par Birmingham it allowed Norwich to get the first blow in this weekend.
Not to mention an extra day’s recovery before they build up to a couple of major collisions against the Blades and Leeds.
Marcelo Bielsa’s leaders travel to a Stoke under new management. Not even Bielsa will have been able to produce a comprehensive dossier on Nathan Jones’ work in the Potteries after his arrival barely 10 days ago.
Chris Wilder takes his squad to a Swansea City listing in mid-table but unbeaten in four.
Norwich might not quite be in the territory of relying on favours from elsewhere, with many hurdles still to clear, but it would be another little boost should either of their chief promotion rivals stumble. Farke denied before his side’s first victory in five league games Birmingham was a must-win. But if either of the Yorkshire clubs fail to match their three points on Saturday it might prove a momentum-boosting weekend, after a festive flatline in terms of results.