It’s been a frenetic and traumatic week for Norwich City.
The departure of Alex Pritchard will be the headline, but Daniel Farke’s construction of a game plan capable of beating one of the best outfits in the division should be the key discussion point. Angst has been present on all quarters of social media since the news of Pritchard’s sale was broken, and quite rightly, but following a united display from the Canaries, those squabbling are now left to hug it out.
Farke was left with a prolonged inquisition on why those above him opted to sanction the departures of Pritchard and Yanic Wildschut. Yet, despite having £30 million worth of talent sold in six months, Farke continues to operate well despite the heavy constraints of a financial strait jacket. He stood a diplomatic figure in the aftermath of a dogged win at Ashton Gate.
Norwich is progressing in an upwardly mobile manner.
The players naturally deserve lauding, but Farke’s alterations to conclude a insipid run must be applauded. Furthermore, following a New Year’s Day victory over Millwall, Farke opted to stand by the tactics he deployed against Chelsea. It was brave, it was bold but this Head Coach got it right. Farke has the knowledge and tactical nous to lead this side forwards, during the excellent periods we’ve witnessed that.
Norwich operated in a 3-4-3 formation with James Maddison and Josh Murphy operating behind Nelson Oliveira. This formation grants those aforementioned operators a greater licence to create opportunities and they possess a freedom to roam.
There are still improvements required in offensive areas. In this set up, the wing backs are relied upon for width but productivity in wide areas is paramount to the success that Norwich will have whilst operating in this manner. Questions could of been asked of Ivo Pinto’s end product in the final third in the opening period, but his involvement in the winning goal subsequently answered those questions.
They also lack a real quantity of options in the penalty area during offensive situations meaning if the ball is put into the area, it must be of a world class quality in order to create a chance. With more midfield runners, the pressure could equate to more offensively.
Admittedly, Norwich require reinforcements but those donning yellow and green displayed a monumental degree of togetherness in order to grind out a victory against the Championship high fliers. The back three stood as colossus figures as they performed with a great amount of aplomb. Grant Hanley continues to shine since his instalment into the starting line up.
This can filed away alongside the pragmatic away performances at the likes of Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Ipswich. It wasn’t a portion of Farke’s proposed philosophy, but this was a performance which reaffirmed the belief held by many that this squad is capable of performing well in this division.
The application and understanding of the game plan was exceptional. Farke and his backroom side formulated a game plan which was carried out to perfection by his side.
James Maddison’s stock continues to rise. Each performance will be greeted with more column inches touting his services away from Carrow Road. This is an unwanted side effect, but his talent is undeniable. At points, his technical superiority has proved match winning.
City supporters must cherish consuming his exploits in a Norwich shirt. Maddison is conscious of the journey he is embarking upon and that could lean in City’s favour should interest become bids. His left foot is a wand but it was his distribution which allowed City to counter attack which was impressive throughout this encounter.
He continues to force writers deeper into their thesauruses, looking for appropriate superlatives to marry with his performances. When considering options for the infamous Barry Butler trophy come May, the award will be engraved with Maddison’s name should he continue to perform to this degree.
He continues to cause bedlam amongst supporters with sumptuous strikes and pockets of individual quality.
He has been somewhat of an unsung hero for the entirety of this campaign. His match winning save was of world class quality, but his consistency for a young man is just as impressive. This is a man who hadn’t played a minute of senior football prior to this season.
He is an all round goalkeeper. He’s a shot stopper, commands his area with such presence and leadership but also has excellent distribution, a quality required for goalkeepers in a more contemporary time. His foot work is effortlessly good. Gunn makes saves whereby he should be flinging to either side of his goal seem routine due to excellent footwork.
Alex Tettey is yet to lose a game whilst featuring for Norwich City; he has become an indispensable member of Farke’s side. Alongside him, Mario Vrancic continues to improve. The Bosnian has received plenty of critiques for his lacklustre and laboured style of play, but he continues to improve. His pass in the build up to the winning goal was a sublime piece of technical quality.
Norwich now resides six points outside the playoff places, with a mouth watering fixture against Chelsea sandwiched between this victory and an exciting clash with Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United. Should Norwich put in a spirited display against the Premier League champions and conquer the Blades, do supporters dare to dream?