One to be filed under the ‘one of those days’ category for those of a yellow and green persuasion.
Miserable conditions, an obvious sense of fatigue and Moritz Leitner’s absence were the contributing factors in what was a frustrating goalless draw at the KCOM Stadium.
After the manner at which Norwich dismantled Swansea City with free-flowing, aesthetically pleasing football, some supporters expected a relatively routine evening on Humberside that would see Norwich seize the Championship and seek to develop a gap to storm away from the waiting pack beneath them.
Contextualisation is key, however; four points from the last two away games, a continuation of an unbeaten run stretching to seven games in the league and they extend their stay at the top of the division, albeit by a single point.
Frustration will be the overriding emotion for Norwich City.
It was an evening that never really left first gear for Farke’s fledgeling’s and similar to that recent fixture in South Wales, Norwich found themselves coming slowly out of the blocks. They lacked intensity and fluidity, two characteristics that have been synonymous with their recent philosophical game, one which has seen them notch four goals in three consecutive games prior to this encounter.
Based on that statistic alone, money perhaps should have been placed on a 0-0 draw.
The unpredictability of the Championship is something every side will experience throughout the season, one way or another and eventually, the fortune that had been arriving in abundance on Norwich’s doorstep was always going to change course.
Pragmatism was rife among supporters prior to this fixture, which is intriguing once you consider where Norwich currently lie in the table. This is a wave Norwich supporters are attempting to negotiate successfully as opposed to resorting to somersaults and fancy tricks. Caution has become a predominant feature within the terraces and expectations are being kept minimal.
There could have been a differing picture painted following this game.
Instead of the conventional grumbles that Norwich has struggled to overcome an opponent residing 23rd in the division, there is a forgiveness that eventually Norwich were going to come unstuck. They have collected enough credit in the bank for that to be, rightly, the case.
Credit needs to be awarded to the hosts, considering Nigel Adkins only has 12 senior players available to him currently, their togetherness and defensive shaping was excellent whilst nullifying Norwich’s output for the majority of the evening.
Often in times of adversity, togetherness becomes more evident within a side.
Hull defended central areas doggedly, ensuring they maintained a compact core to force Norwich into wide areas and into crossing opportunities that simply isn’t part of Norwich’s game at present. The depth and proxemics of their defensive behaviours made the Canaries maintain possession in areas that weren’t hurtful to Hull.
Beyond a Tom Trybull header, Norwich didn’t get many sniffs of David Marshall’s goal, with the reargued of the hosts marshalling Teemu Pukki effectively throughout the game, with the in-form Finnish striker not seeing much of the ball.
After the impressive statistics being used to emphasise the brilliance of their performances of late, it’s typical of football to provide a timely reality check.
This performance displayed shades of last seasons performances, it was fairly one-paced and one dimensional for the most part. Admittedly, that is due to some brilliant defending from the hosts but equally graphically illustrates the difficulty of maintaining a high level of performance over a condensed period of fixtures.
Negative labels married to this result seem wayward somewhat.
This wasn’t a poor Norwich performance, ultimately it takes two to tango. Norwich wasn’t as impressive as in previous fixtures but was still dominant and in control of proceedings throughout.
The sense that they could lose the game was never felt over the course of the piece.
Sobering would be an apt description; this result will ensure everyone associated around the club is still in a bubble without floating away and the nature of their league position makes looking into the future an impossible task in reality. Norwich will circle winnable fixtures, one of those will come on Saturday.
The reality is this, the more impressive Norwich are in games, the more sides will seek to frustrate and retreat. Condensing the space and allowing Norwich the ball, encouraging them to come and break them down without initiating any attempt to attack or press.
In many regards, that’s the biggest compliment opposing sides can give to Daniel Farke’s team.
With it though, arrives an altogether new challenge. Respondence to the ultra-defensive tactics deployed will define how good Norwich City are, and an approach to counteract this tactical operation designed to restrict Norwich centrally will have to be constructed in order to overcome sides who elect to play against them in this way.
Undoubtedly, the absence of Mo Leitner was a contributing factor as to why Norwich was so one-paced in possession.
The German is one of the best operators in this division, and although it’s Trybull who’s song contains the lyrics ‘he never gives the ball away’, in reality, this seems better suited to the ex-Borussia Dortmund man.
Leitner dictates the tempo at which Norwich play on the ball and is responsible for turning over the ball through the thirds of the pitch. He’s an integral part of the intricate operation Farke is attempting to construct because he is the quarterback, the one responsible for starting offensive phases of play.
He passes through the lines and puts Norwich on the front foot, but also is responsible for locating team members in space. He isn’t a player whose name will be high up on the goals and assists records but is the heartbeat of the side, the metronome if you will.
His omission from the side affected Norwich on the ball, and despite Trybull being selected due to the conditions, Mario Vrancic would have been a more like-for-like replacement in terms of his technical ability. Farke shouldn’t receive criticism, ultimately Trybull’s selection was to ensure the Canaries had a solid base from which they could work.
News surrounding the outcome of his scan will be waited for with bated breath.
Rotherham at Carrow Road will pose a similar test, one whereby they will be keen to control the game without the ball and restrict Norwich in central areas. Intrinsically, Norwich has been devastating offensively when provided with pockets of space in which they can operate, but Farke and his team will need to conjure up an altogether set of methodology for the upcoming games.
They deserve leeway, ultimately, they haven’t lost.
Considering the distance travelled over the last few days, fatigue was always going to be prevalent. It was an adequate performance from Norwich and one which supporters will have expected at some stage or another.
A winning run is over, but an unbeaten one isn’t.
Carrow Road needs to be motivated in order to help secure a positive result against Rotherham. Similar to this fixture, it could well be frustrating, one which doesn’t pan out the way Norwich intend, but common sense needs to be applied. Norwich has been operating out of their skin at a level unforeseen by everyone.
Get behind them because it’s time to construct a new winning run; that’s what good teams do, navigate their failings with a response culminating in victory.
The ball is in Norwich City’s court, but they need you to get behind them.