17 games unbeaten, a clear and coherent philosophy whilst oozing quality, you can’t blame Norwich supporters for peering enviously at Fulham’s current situation.
They are all Norwich are desperate to be, playing aesthetically pleasing football whilst moving the ball with purpose and intensity. The difference between the two sides for long periods was unnoticeable, but the opponents ability to move through the gears and their ruthless edge in the final third proved the difference in this encounter.
Fulham were willing to engage in bouts of possession and looked a more refined entity in comparison to Daniel Farke’s side. As a collective, their consistency within their distribution of the ball was impressive. It wasn’t retaining possession for retaining possessions sake, but it was purposeful and at an intensity which made them dictate proceedings for lengthy periods.
From Marcus Bettinelli to Alexsander Mitrovic, Fulham’s control of possession was purposeful. They managed to do in two passes what Norwich required five to emulate.
This was dismissive from a side that look set for promotion. The manner in which they shifted through the gears in the second period was devastating for Norwich.
Norwich looked threatening on the counter at points and but for a lack of self belief and cutting edge, they could have punished Fulham but the questionable approach to home encounters continues to linger.
Norwich defended against the ball well for periods; soaking up a lot of possession and holding a condensed shape to restrict the pockets of space Fulham were seeking to operate in in between the defence and midfield. Following that second goal however, heads dropped and Norwich’s defensive shape became more fragile.
Whenever Norwich is defeated, social media becomes a void of negativity and pessimism. Frustration is obvious, but the overreaction and pockets of name calling is tiring. Norwich will lose games and get beaten by better opposition.
A middle ground needs to be struck whereby a win isn’t greeted with buoyant and over exuberant positivity and a loss isn’t greeted with condemnations to relegation. In truth, this season is too soon to pass judgement; the real test lies next season. What needs to be displayed now is a clear progression.
This was by no means a shameful disaster.
For the latter period of the first half, Norwich’s pressing improved and they unlocked the left hand side and discovered its potential for productivity. Onel Hernandez’s pace was a noticeable absentee and had Norwich have possessed the Cuban’s rapid speed; their game plan could have been more effective.
James Maddison as a makeshift winger saw his output lessen and he was a passenger for the majority of the first half. His usually reliable right boot was nullified in a streetwise midfield and he was often left to roam in the middle phase without clarity of his position. He improved in the second half, but Pinto’s isolation for long periods underlined the pertinent lack of right winger.
The debate surrounding Norwich’s striking position remains. Dennis Srbeny was once again given the nod ahead of Nelson Oliveira. The eccentricity of the latter option is well documented and Srbeny was given another chance to prove his worth to the cause.
Srbeny has had plenty of faith installed into him by Farke, the man who opted to take a risk on the ex-German third tier striker. He still possesses a rawness around the edges and is still residing in the acclimatisation period of his Norwich career. He was prevented from his first goal from a excellent save by Bettinelli.
The quicker that elusive first goal arrives, the better for all concerned.
Harrison Reed proved his versatility once more as he was reinstated into his more natural position in the engine room and his tenacity and business in the middle of the park was excellent. Reed is a multipurpose footballer, even in his stint at right back; he looked more than simply an emergency option.
Supporter’s frustrations with Josh Murphy reached breaking point. At 23, he is no longer a youngster and with 82 Norwich appearances under his belt, he must strike some consistency within his game. In this fixture, Murphy was lambasted for anything short of perfection. Admittedly, it wasn’t his most impressive outing and his decision making is often questionable, but he requires support.
Not just because he is one of Norwich’s own but because on his day, he is a match winner. He thrives upon confidence and he is Norwich’s second highest goal scorer this season, perhaps positivity would help achieve that much needed consistency.
With Norwich inferior to Fulham’s style of play, QPR awaits on Easter Monday, with redemption the order of the day from travelling supporters. Experimentation is critical as Farke needs to discover a winning formula to inject some positivity into this project ahead of next season, where a real ascent towards promotion must be seen.
Amongst Farke’s required tweaks to create a efficient and upwardly mobile Norwich City, is a discovering a game plan to make Norwich more entertaining and successful at home, the place he once said he was keen to create a ‘living room’, but Norwich have been lounging as oppose to being comfortably familiar.
For Farke, the work for next season is mounting and he must keep supporters on side.
If you want to win a signed Norwich City football, please look at the link below. Entries cost £1 with all proceeds being donated for Cancer Research UK.