The conditions at Carrow Road were more akin to Siberia than Norfolk. The 25,000 supporters who braved the Baltic conditions will be basking amongst a winning feeling again as Norwich beat Reading.
This felt like a win which has been brewing for a while. Those who battled the arctic weather conditions witnessed a more offensively productive Norwich City side.
With Daniel Farke opting to operate with two wide players, Norwich had a different dimension in the attacking phase of the game. Josh Murphy appears more comfortable but also more threatening on the left side of Norwich’s midfield.
After his goal at Barnsley, Murphy needed to build upon that goal with a profitable performance this time out. His quality in one versus one situations is evident but refinement needs to happen within the finer elements of his game if he wishes to emulate his twin brother. Murphy possesses the tools to be a match winner, but he lacks consistency, which at 23, he needs to begin establishing.
No longer is he a youth player, but much improved on Saturday.
The quality of Murphy has been consumed in doses, but since Onel Hernandez provided Farke the opportunity to play a much wider game, it has seemingly progressed the philosophy from an offensive outlook. An implication of this newfound width and additional pace is the lack of defensive solidarity. Therein lies a pivotal question, is an offensive edge more important than a defensive resilience?
The front three of Hernandez, Murphy and Srbeny offered a pace and threat in behind which Norwich have required this campaign. Hernandez continues to impress, his blistering pace combined with physicality has made his transition to life in the Championship seamless. He has all the characteristics necessary to adhere himself with the Carrow Road faithful.
Hernandez continues to combine nicely during offensive phases and his rapid speed allows him to unlock doors which were previously difficult for Norwich to unpick.
Progression. That was the key ingredient required from Dennis Srbeny in order to prove he can perform at this level. Previously, Srbeny appeared to be swimming out of his depth against Nottingham Forest but with some nice touches and an ability to hold up the ball, he displayed clear progression.
He would have placed the cherry on the top of a pleasing performance but for the chance he missed towards the latter stage of the game. That chance must be taken in isolation however, contrary to that aforementioned Forest game; Srbeny did offer a presence and impacted the game. Not brilliant, but progression.
Norwich appeared a more cohesive offensive unit.
If Srbeny needs guidance on how to adapt to the rigours of Championship football, he should look no further than Mario Vrancic.
Vrancic was written off by many supporters in the embryonic stages of the season, but as the campaign has progressed, the Bosnian has adapted to the division. His technical ability was on display with an exquisite range of passing and with Moritz Leitner and Alex Tettey having fallen victims to injury, he has an ability to establish himself in City’s engine room.
It was a tepid start to life for Vrancic, but his increased physicality has shown he can handle the intensity of the division. Long may it continue.
Vrancic unmarked, Hanley combative and Kelly smart. This was the game whereby set pieces were a threat throughout. Norwich exercised a new offensive plan with two runners moving towards the front post and others moving towards the back. It was about as dynamic as City have looked from set pieces.
With two goals, it has evidently paid dividend.
Both sides self inflicted paralysis from set pieces however, Reading in particular. The Royals seem to be devoid of confidence but also discipline. Norwich unpicked the defence and carried a threat in behind for the entirety of the game, had the Royals of defended in a manner which was more robust and cohesive, they would have had a better chance of obtaining a result.
Reading displayed an ounce of fight as the game grew old and the offensive quality they possess should be enough to stay in the division but it must be an increasing concern for Jaap Stam’s side. One kick away from the Premier League to three points away from the relegation zone, this has been a dramatic demise.
It was also today the mystery of Marcus Edwards was solved. The youngster seemingly does exist as he was named as a substitute in this fixture. Edwards didn’t come onto the pitch due to the frenetic nature of the game but it does prove he has taken a huge step into Farke’s thoughts, with injuries to Leitner and Tettey, he may be given a chance.
Norwich were a better outfit than the one which has operated in previous weeks. Admittedly, to concede seven goals in seven days is concerning, but they proved their defensive capabilities, it’s now about resolving the offensive profligacy.
Progression is key.