Six things you might have missed after City suffered late heartbreak to draw with Coventry
Norwich City are 10 unbeaten and sit top of the Championship, but all isn't as positive as it seems for the Canaries. Connor Southwell assesses their 1-1 draw with Coventry City.
1 - Calling upon the kids
Daniel Farke is known for being a youth-enabling coach who isn’t afraid to drop youngsters into the heat of battle in the Championship.
Recall Max Aarons’ debut in an East Anglian Derby or Jamal Lewis’ first start following a disheartening defeat to Brentford. Occasion doesn’t waver Farke’s trust.
As City led 1-0, Coventry boss Mark Robins sought to impact the game from the bench. For Farke, such an option wasn’t available.
A mere few weeks ago, Farke could turn to his bench and ponder whether to throw Jordan Hugill or Mario Vrancic into the mix. On Saturday, it was only Christoph Zimmermann amongst a bench of six, five of whom hadn’t played a minute for the club at senior level.
Tyrese Omotoye and Andrew Omobamidele had only just nursed themselves back to full health from injury and featured in the first half of the U23s goalless draw with Burnley only 24 hours prior.
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The reality is, if this current injury situation continues, then Farke will have to put trust in those occupying the bench. Protecting them is understandable given the state of this particular game, but City might not have that luxury in the weeks ahead.
2 - High five!
An advantage afforded to Mark Robins was the ability to call upon five fit first-team options to bring on in the second half in order to alter the dynamic of the fixture.
It was through one of those changes that the Sky Blues found their equaliser courtesy of striker Maxime Biamou. The gruelling nature of the Championship coupled with a more intense schedule owed to a shorter season means the importance of preserving players' fitness and recovery will be increased.
You just need to listen to Jurgen Klopp to understand the frustrations amongst football managers at present.
The Canaries managed to keep Coventry at arm's length for the majority of the fixture without necessarily being overly creative themselves. That dynamic shifted as Robins shuffled his pack and Farke kept faith with those on the pitch. That allowed the visitors to sustain their level of performance for longer, City, in turn, looked leggy.
City have to get going again in preparation for Wednesday night. There will be little time for improvements on the training pitch and more focus on recovery.
3 - Unlucky 13
Daniel Farke is sick of it. Norwich City supporters are sick of it. But it looks to be getting even worse.
One thing City’s boss would have been keen to happen was that all his first-team came through the encounter with Coventry unscathed. Sadly, for Max Aarons, that wasn’t the case. He left the stadium on crutches with his left foot in a protective boot. These measures tend to be precautionary immediately after the game.
As he limped around the perimeter of the Carrow Road pitch, you could sense Farke’s frustration. Lukas Rupp’s hamstring injury and Aarons' shin knock increases those unavailable to 13. For the Canaries, that really is unlucky.
You can adopt the word unprecedented or your preferred synonym, but the Championship will punish any side caught licking their wounds and looking particularly vulnerable. City have to grin and bear it. The calendar won’t wait for those players to return.
Maybe, as Farke suggests, the attentions will move away from performances and instead on grinding out results. If they can stay within touching distance whilst their key players recover, then that will be some achievement.
4 - The Flying Pole
Making the jump from the Polish top flight to the Championship was always going to be a difficult step up for Przemek Placheta.
The rapid Pole has quite had an eventful few months. It started by signing for Norwich City, then saw him get engaged before making his debut for the senior Poland side. That inclusion in his national team seems to have extracted some confidence that is aiding his performances in yellow and green.
Against Coventry, his pace helped City stretch the game, but his purposefulness with the ball and how he looked up when in crossing positions to pick out a team-mate impressed. In recent weeks, there has been a marked improvement in his output. It isn’t a sudden rise but a steady, gradual upgrade in his displays.
Similar to Onel Hernandez’s first six months in England, it’s clear there are the tools to be a success in England. Thereafter it’s about refinement and adaptation.
There is a partnership beginning to blossom between Placheta and makeshift left-back Jacob Sorensen. The latter’s willingness to allow the Polish international a licence to attack is benefiting Placheta. Still, it is clear work has been done on the training pitch to improve the intelligence of his runs.
Playing in front of a pragmatic full-back seems to be the best way to extract his qualities.
5 - Mr Reliable
Alex Tettey’s qualities are no surprise to anybody who has watched him perform throughout his eight years at Norwich City.
The Norwegian's presence in midfield instils some calm into City's spells of possession. This season has largely seen the 34-year-old take a watching brief as Spurs loanee Ollie Skipp continues to impress.
Once again, Farke finds himself having to rely on Tettey, this time due to a depleted squad. At Stoke, City’s boss described his defensive positioning as ‘world-class’. Even with Skipp’s inclusion, City do not possess a better screener of the back four than Tettey.
His contract may expire next summer, but the conundrum remains. How do they replace someone who has proven to be so dependable during such a prolonged period of service in Norfolk?
Even now, after all these years, he is performing well in the Championship. Even though he isn’t such a prominent member of the first-team squad, his importance hasn’t diminished. Given the injury crisis, City may need to lean on his qualities again this side of Christmas.
If he can sustain the ball-playing quality he displayed on Saturday more consistency, then it’s further evidence of his refinement under Farke.
6 - A lift on the horizon
The welcome news this week surrounding the turnstiles opening to 2,000 supporters at Carrow Road next Saturday is a very welcome one, for two reasons.
City could have done with them on Saturday as they attempted to see out what would have been an excellent win, given the context. Behind closed doors, the venue of the matches means very little. Even with a small number of supporters providing noise and energy, there will be the return of home advantage.
Farke’s men face the reverse of that on Wednesday when a limited number of Luton Town fans will be permitted into Kenilworth Road to watch the match. The dynamic is going to be fascinating and is another hurdle to overcome.
Furthermore, this move hopefully represents another step closer to normality. The tunnel since March has been long, bleak and dark – finally, there is a light emerging at the other end. With promising vaccine news, suddenly a return to a full Carrow Road doesn’t seem the fantasy it once did.
When that day comes, NR1 will play host to the biggest party and, regardless of the result, it will be a special day for so many City supporters.