Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 4-2 Championship defeat against Aston Villa
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Villa Park.
1. Lightweight - The final scoreline may well serve to mask the underlying concerns. City failed to test Villa’s keeper until Josh Murphy rolled a finish past him on the hour mark totally against the run of play. Norwich were second best in all three departments. Defensively, unable to contain impressive youngster Keinan Davis, across midfield one-paced, and lacking the drive of Villa’s hat-trick man Conor Hourihane, and offering little up top for the most part. Early days it may be but Norwich’s passing game was no antidote to the aggressive, pacy urgings of Steve Bruce’s side.
2. The inconsistency of youth - Harrison Reed smashed home a sublime goal to seal the midweek win against QPR. Here he was at fault for the turnover that led to the opening Villa goal before a clever pass created a brief lifeline for Josh Murphy to slot. There is no doubt the Southampton loanee has the talent but like any young player making their way you can expect inconsistency not only from game to game but within each 90 minutes.
3. Mitigation - There was something akin to a social media meltdown when the team news dropped and City fans digested Nelson Oliveira had made way for Cameron Jerome. Jerome was eager and voracious in his appetite for work but lacked any real conviction when Norwich did fashion a sporadic chance. But Daniel Farke revealed afterwards the big Portuguese had declared himself fit despite intensive treatment in the morning on a groin injury. With his compatriot, Ivo Pinto, not risked and Marley Watkins also nursing a foot injury there was additional factors behind the German’s selection policy.
4. Tempo, tempo - That as may be but it feels there is a predictable edge to this new passing philosophy which does not hinge simply on who is available. Too often in the opening games, City have wandered across the field laterally, allowing opposition defences to shuffle into lines and wait for a misplaced pass or a rushed decision from the Canaries to turn over the ball. The template is sound. Keep the ball, move the opponent around and profit from the space when it eventually opens. But Norwich need to move the ball with far greater urgency and energy rather than merely retain possession as a badge of honour.
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5. Charlton pick-me-up - Farke arguably does not wish to have another game with a depleted squad but after another difficult 90 minutes of Championship action it might not be the worst thing for, particularly, the new players to bed in. Plus a shot of confidence from a decent performance and cup progress would be welcome ahead of what already looks a difficult trip to Millwall next weekend.
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