David Freezer: What's going on in training, City?!
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The long waits between Premier League games are particularly excruciating for all connected to Norwich City at the moment.
When a team is going through a difficult spell in the Championship, it's usually only a few days before another opportunity to put things right arrives.
Daniel Farke will appreciate full weeks of training with his players but for supporters, it means another lengthy stint of wallowing in the worry and misery of a shocking start to the campaign.
After the disrupted pre-season, late transfer arrivals and difficult opening fixtures, Farke and his coaches have had plenty of time to get stuck into the tactical work on the pitches of the Lotus Training Centre.
Thankfully, injuries haven’t been too bad so far and the only suspension has been the one-game absence that Ben Gibson has just served for his red card at Chelsea.
On the injury front, Grant Hanley was yesterday ruled out for "two or three weeks" - he and Christoph Zimmermann have been the only fresh injury absences since the pre-season problems cleared up, with Przemek Placheta and Sam Byram having to ease their way back to full fitness carefully.
The anomaly has been Todd Cantwell, with Daniel Farke expressing frustration at minor fitness issues preventing consistent training to his exacting demands - telling one of his squad's most creative players to focus on under-23 duty, much to the bemusement of many.
Yet in spite of things being relatively settled for the last couple of months, certainly in comparison to the injury crisis of two years ago, evidence of work in training paying dividends has been minimal on match days.
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As the famous Canaries saying goes: "Whaas goin' orn in traynun, Neyul?"
City's players had a full week to prepare for the trip to Chelsea after their 0-0 draw with Brighton, while Thomas Tuchel's leaders had to contend with a Wednesday night game against Malmo in the Champions League, going full strength and winning 4-0.
They even lost front-line strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to injury but were still able to drop N'Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Anders Christensen to the bench for the 12.30pm Saturday kick-off as they romped to their 7-0 humiliation of the abject Canaries.
It was a similar story ahead of the defeat to Leeds, very nearly a full eight days later.
Norwich could focus on preparation at Colney, whereas Marcelo Bielsa's team were at Arsenal in the League Cup on the Tuesday night, losing 2-0.
Eight of those players also started at Carrow Road and ran out deserved winners after an initially spirited response from the Canaries fell apart following the disastrous second goal, just two minutes after the joy of Andrew Omobamidele's equaliser.
I felt the City supporters had done their part up to that point and had responded to Stuart Webber's bullish demands, with a mostly supportive atmosphere, from the traditionally louder areas of the stadium at least.
Yet the balloon was very much burst by that goal, started by immature play from Ozan Kabak and finished by a misjudgement that Tim Krul held his hands up for in apology.
It reminded me of the 2-2 draw with Reading in April 2019, when Ben Godfrey had rammed home an equaliser and was swiftly followed by a classic centre-back's header from a corner as Christoph Zimmermann sent Carrow Road wild in the 88th minute.
As the celebrations of promotion being within touching distance surged after an almighty roar, the Royals turned the party into a wake as Andy Rinomhota fired in an excellent equaliser in injury-time, denying the eventual champions a ninth win on the spin.
Fortunately, that squad got the job done, eventually.
On Sunday, Dion Dublin was highlighting the dejection on Match of the Day Two, pointing out the amount of City players with hands on their heads in the aftermath of that damaging Leeds goal.
For a team that already have a real fight for survival on their hands, the absence of a concerted push to bombard the visitors' box was hugely concerning.
With so much hard work ahead to salvage this season, there is no room for feeling sorry for yourself, only for hunger to prove everyone wrong.
Let's hope that work on the training pitches has proved more productive for the feet as well as the mind this week, as another defeat will make it incredibly difficult to convince supporters to keep the faith.