The simple reality is a stark one for Norwich City, the only evidence they required that the playoffs are streets away was in the quality of their opponents.
These were both sides cut from similar cloth, however.
They were both constructed to retain possession, with technical operators instructed to pass their opponents into submission. Norwich’s good spells mustn’t be discounted. This was not a game which progressed in the same manner as those in South London and Bolton.
Norwich was knocked off their perch from poor marking from a set piece. This goal came following significant warning signs and City could’ve found themselves two goals down had Pontus Jansson had capitalised from poor marking. He later made no mistake.
Farke made a point of discussing the alteration to man to man marking for this match in an attempt to nullify Jansson’s aerial prowess. Seemingly it didn’t work.
This epoch underpinned the deficiencies which have been pertinent thus far this campaign for Norwich. Chances a plenty but severely lacking clinical finishing, even with Alex Pritchard following a period of convalescence, Norwich look devoid of all creativity in the offensive third. Particularly when Maddison’s star isn’t shining as brightly.
There is a severe lack of cutting edge infecting this Norwich side presently.
A lack of width frustrating and a lack of offensive intelligence exasperating, four shots on target from 14 registered efforts is profligate and toothless. With the abundance and great expense of flair at his disposal, Daniel Farke cannot point towards any list of injuries.
The offensive side of the game is lacking. Admittedly, this wasn’t a display as toothless as Bolton, and should Pritchard’s respective strikes nestle into the back of the net, the debate becomes void on this occasion.
The frustration is Norwich’s regression to Farke’s precursor’s era. The stubborn 4-2-3-1 involves shoehorning players into positions which restricts the team efficiency as the whole. Pritchard should not be deployed out wide in games away from Carrow Road. Sure, Norwich need technical operators, but they also require differentiation in the final third in order to create opportunities.
A pass too many, incorrect decisions frequently and an over complication underpins Norwich’s improvidence. Farke needs to install a freedom and licence to express upon his sides offensive efforts, but also a trust and a confidence. The emphasis on combination play in and around the penalty area is restricting simplicity and improvisation.
Chances were created but City struggled to locate an extra gear in their frenetic search for an equaliser.
Other issues also persist. The back four are exposed and isolated due to the lack of midfield resolve, with Tettey and Trybull both back to full fitness, Farke must be flirting with the idea of restoring the dynamic duo who were key instruments in Norwich’s orchestra during the elusive unbeaten run.
Vrancic and Reed have improved drastically match on match, but a defensive pivot and a portion of guile is what’s required currently. The fundamental difference between the two conflicting sides was Leeds capability to defend doggedly but also how they attacked with direction, intensity and simplicity, in part due to Norwich’s lack of midfield resolve.
Norwich is a multifaceted outfit.
Sometimes they play eloquent and effortless football whilst on the ball but major deficiencies hinder any progression in regards to results. The difference between Norwich and the top six are there to be evaluated. A lack of quality, a lack of resilience to become victorious in an ugly manner and a lack of composure in finishing situations, those are the key differences.
Marco Steipermann cuts an inexperienced and astray figure whilst operating in a left back role. With the recovery of Jamal Lewis and James Husband, Norwich will have a more stable and reliable left side.
What is more concerning is the opponents frequently overloading this area, they locate Norwich’s weakness and probe and exploit it. The German’s marking was questionable for Jansson’s header and was similarly slow off the mark for Jordan Rhodes goal last weekend. Steipermann must be deployed elsewhere.
There is no disputing his unquestionable quality; however, his career history reveals a player who is streaky in form and loose in temper. He must be replaced for the benefit of the team. Jerome is lurking in the wings and is ready to be deployed.
Jerome offers more reliability when compared with Oliveria’s intrepid style. Jerome should combine with those behind him in a more successful manner also. Admittedly, he may not be the most potent finisher nor is he as athletic as in previous seasons, but he does offer a link between midfield and offence. It was also Jerome’s presence which allowed Maddison to flourish during his most prosperous spell.
This festive period is pivotal to the outcome of Norwich’s campaign. As they languish equally between the seemingly aspirational playoff places and the blood-curdling reality of the relegation places. This Norwich side is currently fragmented and multifaceted. 10 points between those elusive marks, these games can be categorised as season defining.
This performance offered reasons to be cheerful but fundamentally it’s the result which will be remembered and in a sea of apathy and frustration, this will only provide fuel to the fire.