Riddled with illness and injury; this depleted Norwich squad resembled the walking wounded as they fought for a point at Oakwell.
This is one which will be filed as another game Norwich should be winning based on divisional standings. Norwich have picked up three points from games with Bolton, Nottingham Forest, Hull and Barnsley respectively. There graphically illustrates Norwich’s inability to adapt to the rigours of the division.
That record is simply not good enough. If those spearheading operations want a positive outlook on their structure and philosophy, they must provide reasons to be cheerful.
Depleted in terms of personnel, Farke was forced to make five changes, reverting back to the seemingly more comfortable five at the back formation. Norwich’s deficiencies were exposed prior to Farke’s more offensively minded tactical switch. This lateralism and lack of intensity continues to hinder their productivity as a sense of lacklustre lingers around that Norwich team.
This is a side that lack any degree of intensity, offensive threat or experimentation.
The absence of a natural striker was pertinent. Norwich lacked a pivot to which they could aim all of their attacking productivity. That aforementioned tactical switch may have papered over the metaphorical cracks of a poor performance, but bigger issues remain. Norwich seems inept at offensive play if James Maddison struggles to find top gear.
This is not a one off. Norwich have struggled to be free flowing all campaign. The over reliance of Maddison producing a moment of quality is unsustainable.
Gary Gardener marshalled the starlet amicably all evening, his man marking restricting the amount of possession which the influential midfielder saw. It was to be expected that Maddison will receive extra treatment. Most which has been profitable for Norwich this campaign has left the boot of the youngster.
It was one lapse in concentration from Norwich’s rearguard which saw the instinctive Oliver McBurnie quicker in thought and heed to dispatch a confident finish beyond the despairing Angus Gunn. McBurnie encapsulates all that Norwich lack. He is somebody capable of spontaneity in the final third and oozing in confidence.
He was the best offensive operator on the pitch.
There is little debate that Farke’s tactical switch was responsible for the change in impetus from the visitors. Their players advancing as oppose to retreating. Be aggressive were the instructions by their head coach and Norwich displayed an offensive edge which was lacking for the majority of the game.
It wasn’t vintage, but Norwich displayed a degree of character and resilience, prompted by the aforementioned changes. Farke deserves credit for the change in formation, regardless of the fact he must take responsibility for Norwich being in that position initially. Josh Murphy adopted a more conventional wing position, his switch is also evident. It hasn’t been a season to write home about and with the winger itching to join his twin in the Premier League, a more consistent performance level must be uncovered.
On his day, Murphy possesses the ability to win games individually.
The narrative was contrasting to that which was consumed in Humberside on Saturday. At the KCOM, Norwich looked defensively weaker operating with four at the back. In this fixture, they looked more of a threat after altering their formation. Norwich looked lacklustre, sluggish and imbalanced for long parts. This may have been an implication of the illness which riddled Christoph Zimmermann as well as others.
When Onel Hernandez was introduced to proceedings, the dynamic of the game radically shifted.
Norwich now possessed pace on either flank, a width which allowed them to probe with more intent. Murphy was reinvigorated with the freedom and familiarity of a wide role. It just reaffirmed the fact he is not a natural striking option. Without Oliveira, Norwich lacks a viable replacement.
Farke has addressed the gaping defensive hole evident after the mauling at the hands of Millwall. Yet, this is an attacking line up he inherited and one which will be radically altered come August.
Marley Watkins has been substandard in a yellow and green shirt to date. His attitude problems exposed by his head coach and a lack of influence in most fixtures leave his place in this side questionable. It remains to be seen where he fits in regards to the longer plan.
There is seemingly a real divide between supporters at present, one which is expanding by the second. This conflict of optimism and pessimism is dominating all quarters of social media with malicious, personal insults being exchanged in a petty matter. Norwich City is better than this.
Regardless of if you are fully supportive of the philosophy being implemented or not, the angst and aggression adopted by some is better suited to a playground. Simply because someone opts to view this philosophy with a positive spin, that doesn’t make them a ‘happy clapper’.
Nor are those who feel sceptical about the progression of the newfound regime wrong or negative. There is no right opinion, but respect should be a given. We are all standing behind the same cause.
As Norwich ascent towards the end of the season, perhaps the only glimpse of light is Wes Hoolahan’s farewell tour. Hoolahan displayed vintage glimpses of the reason he is adored in these parts.
He will not be a Norwich player come August, but if this is his final swansong, let Norwich supporters drink it in and remember a player who deserves the tag of a legend.