Right now, being a Norwich City fan is certainly very rewarding.
The football is exhilarating to watch, the desire and spirit within the squad are visible for all to see, and the Canaries are two points clear at the top of the Championship – what more could we ask for?
Every member of the squad is pulling their weight and Daniel Farke certainly has some strength in depth to utilise as the games start to come thick and fast. However, the January transfer window inevitably gives each side the change to make some alterations to their line-ups.
With that in mind, here’s a look at each area of the squad and whether or not the Yellows need to delve into any transfer business.
Tim Krul may have had a shaky start to life at Norwich City, but he is gradually becoming a more authoritative figure out on the pitch, despite the occasional lapses in concentration (let’s try to forget about Millwall’s third, eh?)
He arrived under the same pretence as a lot of the Canaries’ recent recruits in recent times; a man who has undoubtedly shown his quality and experience but had slightly lost his way. Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber took a gamble on Krul and we are starting to see him grow into the keeper of old.
Beneath him in the pecking order are Michael McGovern and Aston Oxborough. The latter will certainly be in and around the first-team squad for years to come, while Northern Ireland’s number one is into the final 8 months of his contract.
It is apparent that Norwich might need to delve into the market to sign a keeper at some point once McGovern leaves, but I think that is something that can be left until summer.
JAMES’ VERDICT – STICK WITH WHAT WE HAVE
The defensive situation is an interesting one, with some high-earning players failing to get a look-in in recent months.
Max Aarons has arrived on the first-team scene and taken his chance with some vigour, playing like a man with experience far surpassing his years. In his current form, the Yellows have no need to drop the 18-year old out of the side and, should he begin to show any signs of weariness, Ivo Pinto and Ben Marshall are more than able to dip back in on a temporary basis, without the backline losing a lot of their defensive stability.
The centre-half situation is a very interesting one. Christoph Zimmermann has been in splendid form since deputising for the injured Grant Hanley, and it will be intriguing to see what happens when the Scot is back and ready for action.
Those two are seemingly moulded into the right centre-back slot, while left centre-back Timm Klose is almost acting as a mentor for Ben Godfrey, since his switch from a defensive midfielder. The Yellows won’t need to dive into any desperate signings in this department while there is such strength in depth and continuity at the back.
However, left-back is where there may be some additions. Jamal Lewis has been in sensational form this year, just like Aarons on the opposite flank, and it seems illogical to think that anyone could take his place.
Despite this, what happens if Lewis gets injured or needs a break? Pinto has been drafted in from the opposite flank in some instances, but it is clear that he isn’t comfortable with being asked to play in that role.
James Husband’s Norwich City career is probably done and dusted, while you would bet against Marco Stiepermann being dropped back into that position after thriving so much in attacking midfield of late. Therefore, could a move for a backup left-back be on the cards? You’d like to think so.
JAMES’ VERDICT – SIGN A BACKUP TO JAMAL LEWIS
In one sense, you’d suggest that Norwich are well-resourced in their central midfield options, but if you were playing devil’s advocate, you could argue for another defensive midfielder being brought in.
Alex Tettey has surprised everyone this year and is arguably in the best form of his eight-season association with the club, but with Louis Thompson being unable to catch a break injury-wise, is Tom Trybull going to be enough to cover both Tettey and Moritz Leitner, should either need to miss a few games?
Godfrey is seen by Daniel Farke as a ball-playing defender now, meaning that he is unlikely to be a viable option, and Mario Vrancic is arguably better playing the cutting through balls further up the pitch, either down the centre or on the flanks.
If Moritz Leitner gets injured, do Norwich have someone in the same mould who can act as the metronome of the side and be the heartbeat of all attacking forays? There are still a lot of issues with Kenny McClean, so until his injury predicament is sorted out, he won’t be seen as a serious alternative to Moritz. You’d argue that Trybull could do this role, albeit to a lesser degree, but it could be risky to gamble on Leitner sustaining his form and fitness for the remainder of what is already a gruelling season.
However, you get the feeling that Norwich is likely to want to take that chance. The aforementioned Godfrey and Vrancic can be deployed in defensive midfield roles on an emergency basis, while you’d hope Thompson can come back to fitness sooner rather than later.
Savvas Mourgos and Adam Phillips are two names who could come into the fold next season if needed, so Farke, Webber and co could certainly be reluctant to add to what is already a congested midfield area midway through the season.
JAMES’ VERDICT – STICK WITH WHAT WE HAVE
We’ll briefly touch on our central attacking midfield options before delving into the bigger topic of discussion.
Stiepermann – the self-proclaimed ‘man born to score goals’ – has been like a new signing since slotting into the number 10 role. His strength is incredible, he distributes to the flanks well and has such an impressive footballing brain. With Vrancic also proving that he can add the same traits to the Canaries side when called upon, it seems like this isn’t an area that needs any work.
However, if certainly, transfer rumours are to be believed, Norwich could very well be ready to delve into the market for another wide player, which certainly wouldn’t be a bad move.
Onel Hernandez and Emi Buendia have been imperative to so much of the good football witnessed at Carrow Road of late, but aside from Ben Marshall, is there really anyone else to act as cover further up the field?
Those of you who watched the Bournemouth game in the Carabao Cup game will know that Felix Passlack was excellent in an advanced role on the right, so he could perhaps get a few more bites at the cherry in the coming weeks. However, that leaves Marshall out on the left and, unless he is given a solid run of games, he is unlikely to make the kind of impact that we were assured he could have when he first arrived.
There is no doubt that Todd Cantwell is more than capable of playing on the left – as he has proven – but squad depth is key.
The Canaries could well need another out-and-out wide man for the games which require more width, as an alternative to Todd, whose natural tendency is to try and cut inside. This isn’t to say that he hasn’t had a wonderful impact this year, rather Farke needs a deep squad capable of adapting to various circumstances, even if injuries start to hit.
With Matt Jarvis in the same boat as Louis Thompson injury-wise, bringing in another pacey wide man – particularly for the left side – could be exactly what the squad needs. Where this leaves Ben Marshall is up for debate, but a man of his versatility could prove to be invaluable if injuries mount.
JAMES’ VERDICT – SIGN A NEW LEFT WINGER
The striker department is the easiest of all to discuss. In short, we really don’t need to bring anyone else in.
Teemu Pukki and Jordan Rhodes have a combined 18 goals in 18 games – not bad going by anyone’s money!
These two strikers may be different in terms of how they approach games – Norwich’s ‘Fab Finn’ is willing to chase down any lost cause, while Rhodes chooses to bide his time and strike when the opportunity arises – yet their combined efforts will be crucial to any hopes of a promotion push.
We must remember that Dennis Srbeny is eager to take his chance and can make an impact from the bench, as he proved within seconds of his introduction against Sheffield Wednesday. His desire to start games will inevitably push Pukki and Rhodes to move up the gears and, if there are three strikers jockeying for one spot, the end result can only mean goals aplenty.
With Carlton Morris still to come back into the fold after a long-term layoff, coupled with the emergence of Tristan Abrahams (on loan at present), Adam Idah and Anthony Spyrou in the Under 23s, it seems simply unnecessary to add another frontman to the equation.
JAMES’ VERDICT – STICK WITH WHAT WE HAVE
Do you agree or disagree with any of the decisions in this article? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below and don’t forget to keep visiting talknorwichcity.com for all things Norwich City.