Seven points from a possible nine will be the highlight from a productive Christmas period for Norwich City.
The headlines look healthier as Norwich recorded their second win in three home games. This period affords the Canaries breathing room in the table and allows them to look upwards in their quest for an improved league standing.
The rut has been halted, a platform has been built and Norwich is starting a New Year positively following a much improved performance against a robust Millwall side.
At half time, boos greeted the whistle and Daniel Farke’s decision to rest key bodies at Burton was looking increasingly dangerous. An injection of quality from James Maddison and Alex Pritchard proved the difference at Carrow Road.
Maddison’s inch perfect set piece provided Tom Trybull the opportunity to level proceedings and the sheer relief inside Carrow Road was palpable. Pritchard’s precision in his pass to assist the blossoming Maddison was quality of the highest order.
Across the piece, Norwich displayed more energy and urgency in their graft. There were warning signs however, Norwich’s lack of movement whilst in possession is the cause for the lethargic and lateral build up play. They were stodgy in their offensive play as they couldn’t work the ball through the two lines.
When Norwich fails to play through the key axis of the pitch, their offensive play was nonexistent. Millwall also had the better of the first half, the industrial Steve Morison was the outlet for diagonal balls and once he escaped the attention of Timm Klose and Grant Hanley, he had much more joy.
Farke’s pragmatism has been proved correct. He may have been sitting uncomfortably at half time, but his decision to rest the legs of key operators in Staffordshire and prioritise this battle at Carrow Road proved the difference.
Supporters were critical of his heavily rotated side against Burton, but with Pritchard, Lewis and Tettey all returning from injury recently, the load could have proved too much. Farke took a huge gamble and you can easily debate his merits of dropping two points at Burton, but in hindsight, the Head Coach deserves a huge portion of credit for his bravery and integrity in his decision.
Josh Murphy has endured a relationship full of frustration with the home support throughout this campaign. By his own admission, his output hasn’t made pleasing reading for those aware of the talent he possesses. His ovation was deserved, his performance improved and his quality undeniable but the winger must now find consistency.
His confidence has remerged and his direct running and offensive bravery provided City with an alternate option. Murphy was a constant threat. He has seemingly thrived upon linking up with fellow academy graduate Jamal Lewis.
Lewis himself is displaying maturity in his performances beyond his years. His positioning is exemplary and his athleticism allows him to bomb on without the anxiety of being exposed. At 19 years of age, his potential is frightening and could profit Norwich City in the future.
City looked more balanced with his inclusion. That left side has been stabilised with the inclusion of that dynamic duo but their relationship and chemistry provides width and flair also.
This victory was built from a substructure of solidarity established by Alex Tettey and Tom Trybull. The former brings the defensive nous and muscle; whilst the latter’s technical quality alongside his physicality make them a perfect pairing.
It was Trybull who stole the headlines on Monday however. Put to one side his beautifully placed header, the German’s all round midfield play is superior to all other options at Norwich. His technical quality is married with an energy which makes him a crucial asset. Norwich is a better outfit with his presence in the engine room. He must sign a new deal.
News of a subsequent longer term deal being placed on the table is timely news.
The case of Nelson Oliveria is becoming a confusing tale. His quest to gain possession has seen the Portuguese striker drop deep into midfield, but his failure to hold up the ball is hindering his productivity. Furthermore, his reluctance to attack spaces in the area in crossing positions is odd.
Rumours of a January move will continually circle around him. His quality is unquestionable, but his failure to settle at one club will only add fuel to his apparent attitude issues. Oliveira looks a misfit at present, Norwich requires a different style of striker and should the fee dictate, Oliveira is now a dispensable product.
With a tricky run of fixtures on the horizon, Norwich needs to be pragmatic in approach. The visit of Sheffield United and then a trip to Bristol City waits. These results present an opportunity for Norwich to kick on and begin a fruitful run, but defensive solidarity may be the order of the day for future endeavours.
Here is to a prosperous 2018 for Norwich City.