A busy week in the transfer window was capped off with Norwich City supporters feeling more comfortable about the direction of their club following an impressive victory at Griffin Park.
Having overcame the mental and physique fatigue that lingered in the hangover of the Chelsea game, Norwich displayed the characteristics previously seen at Bramall Lane, Portman Road and the Riverside respectively to conquer a Brentford side who had avoided defeat at Griffin Park for the last 14 encounters. Norwich’s defensive shape and solidarity alongside other mitigating factors proved the difference in London.
Daniel Farke described his side as the underdogs prior to this fixture and with an influx of injuries, most noticeably to captain Ivo Pinto, alongside the walking wounded in Mario Vrancic and Tom Trybull, the odds were suitably stacked against the visitors.
Enter James Maddison.
The young midfielder has taken to Championship football like a duck to water, and his meteoric rise continued with a sublime strike here. Maddison’s tally has risen to nine for the season as he continually proves the difference maker between a single point and all three for the Canaries.
All offensive output of note is channelled through the 21 year old. His technical superiority and the manner in which he drops his shoulder is a class above anyone on the pitch consistently in most weeks. He has become Norwich’s prized asset, and one who needs to be retained should Norwich have aims of progressing in an upwardly mobile manner for the rest of this campaign.
Farke critiqued the attitude of Tottenham loanee Marcus Edwards in his press conference, and if Edwards requires a model on how to apply himself in professional football, Maddison epitomises this. The work ethic and attitude of the ex-Coventry starlet will see his ever-increasing value continue to rise.
If the improvised flick through the legs of Ryan Woods wasn’t sublime enough, then the subsequent finish was. That phase personified the talent of Maddison. This goal evoked memories of that match deciding goal in the North East earlier in the season and caused bedlam amongst the travelling supporters occupying one quarter of Griffin Park.
Norwich has some talent on their books.
Maddison will be rewarded with the headlines, but Norwich’s reargued proved a decisive factor once again away from NR1. The makeup of that back three, consisting of Timm Klose, Christoph Zimmermann and Grant Hanley, continues to settle and impress.
Full of physicality and aerial dominance, it provides the substructure for Norwich to build upon. If they can discover an offensive fluidity to marry alongside this newfound defensive resilience; this side will be a force to reckoned with in this division.
Not only did the trio provide Angus Gunn with a consistent blanket of protection, but they were leaders also. Zimmermann continues to be the poster boy of this operation spearheaded by Farke and Webber. From the fourth tier of Germany to looking competent in the Championship, and on a free transfer, there will be few better signings than the German colossus this season.
On the contrary, Grant Hanley, a player who arrived for a substantial fee with plenty to prove, continues to graphically display why Norwich fought tooth and nail to bring him to Norfolk. His experience and leadership make him exceptional for his teammates to compete with but his physicality and aggression makes him a tough opponent from opposing strikers. He is an uncompromising figure.
These aforementioned players are proving critical components to the clockwork being assembled by Farke and Webber.
This obdurate streak was extended to Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic. The duo complemented each other exemplarily and Vrancic offered a resilience which he has been accused of lacking so often throughout this campaign. The Bosnian is finding his feet somewhat. This shield was pivotal to Norwich’s defensive doggedness.
Vrancic’s influence to Norwich’s counter attacking game mustn’t be discounted either. He is the supply line that reduces the depth of Maddison’s position. Without him, Maddison has to become that connective element himself, resulting in deep positioning and Norwich looking toothless whilst Nelson Oliveira is starved of supply.
With Ivo Pinto occupying the seemingly endless injury list after becoming victim to his car, Norwich needed to fill his athleticism with a temporary solution. Farke opted to deploy Harrison Reed in that right wing back role.
As a midfielder, Reed needs to define the style of midfielder he is but his energy and desire translated seamlessly into his new role on this occasion. Despite a couple of phases whereby his positioning was questionable, Reed negotiated this game wonderfully. Norwich can rely on the midfielder as a understudy should Pinto’s injury become prolonged.
Brentford had the majority of possession, but Norwich gained more territory in the opening period. Norwich pressed relentlessly, but needed a more condensed shape in the second period. This was a streetwise and adept away performance.
Farke’s blueprint is slowly being placed into practice. With new signings injecting a sense of freshness and renewed optimism, Norwich can afford to look upwards. Admittedly, this was a victory which required every weapon in their defensive armoury, yet Norwich appears to adapt to away surroundings suitably easier than Carrow Road at present.
Norwich is becoming a well oiled and tactically adept side whilst away from Carrow Road. The next stage of Farke’s operation is conjuring a plan to be effective at Carrow Road. If Norwich can retain the services of its brightest star, then Farke’s era will enter another gear.
With all attentions being averted onto the next chapter of the operation, this season is one of experimentation and placing the apparatus in place for the challenge that lies ahead. As supporters, it’s now time to fully support the operation.