David Hannant: I’m backing Dennis to become a menace now his goal duck is broken
PUBLISHED: 11:59 12 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:35 12 April 2018
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Odd as this sounds, the weekend’s tremendous win over Aston Villa was delightful and frustrating in equal measure.
As the final whistle blew there was no doubt in my mind that the better team won and were I to have just returned from a trip to Jupiter and not seen the table ahead of time, City would have been the side I’d have said were the ones chasing promotion.
And this is the source of my frustration - it proved that Daniel Farke’s side have it in them to humble any opposition - so where has that been all season?
In many ways, the performance wasn’t massively different from the rest of the campaign - the first half against Bolton for example - with the only stark difference being that when the chances arrived they were taken.
Another Saturday lunch time takeaway that was delightful and frustrating in equal measure was Josh Murphy’s masterclass.
So often this season we have seen flashes of brilliance from the lad, or - more often - flashes of so nearly brilliance. Moments where he has carved an opportunity, only to make the wrong decision at the last second - Josh Murphy in a nutshell, if I’m being honest.
However, once Josh’s rocket nestled in the top corner, he was a different player completely.
He was more confident, more composed and his decision making was nothing short of spot on. He was looking up while on the ball far more , engaging his brain, and stole the show.
In fact, if that Josh Murphy had turned up every week this season, a) the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy would be a far less foregone conclusion and b) we’d probably be in a far better spot.
If Josh’s confidence continues to grow from his display, he will continue to mature and the sky will be the limit.
However, Josh silencing his critics (for now)was not the thing I was most pleased about. That honour instead belongs to another.
I was absolutely tickled pink to see Dennis Srbeny get off the mark in yellow and green.
I’m still yet to fully make up my mind on the German, having only figured in fits and starts, but from what I have seen, I approve.
After his first few appearances I wasn’t really sure what it is he offers, but now he’s settled in, I’m getting more and more impressed with him and optimistic about his prospects for next season.
In many ways, he reminds me of a certain Dutch striker who I have defended on several occasions in this column, but who ultimately will be remembered as a Carrow Road failure.
Like I always maintain Ricky was, Dennis looks a thinking man’s striker - one who makes intelligent runs and likes to play with his brain in gear.
Sitting up in the gods as I do, you see a lot more of the action off the ball - the runs, the movement and the anticipation.
With van Wolfswinkel, I always saw the runs he was making, which, had we been playing a less agricultural style (as we did under Chris Hughton) we’d have been able to make good use of.
Watching Dennis Srbeny, I see a lot of the same movement, the subtle looks and ghosting into dangerous positions.
His goal came from exactly that, he timed his run expertly and beat the offside trap.
The big difference between he and the unfortunate Dutchman though, is that this team is trying to play the style of football that favours this type of striker.
There was always going to be a settling in period, but the first goal going in could prove crucial.
Even with a settling in period, had Srbeny made it to the end of the season without finding the net, he would be facing an uphill battle to win the Carrow Road faithful over for next term.
Now, obviously I know one goal won’t automatically make him a world-beating goal machine, as that chap I keep going back to demonstrates, but it is a start.
There also looks to be a little bit more to Srbeny’s game than just making clever runs. He looks physical, puts himself about and can hold the ball up to boot, so I think the early signs are good.
As we’ve seen with Mario Vrancic, who is growing into the English game more and more every week, the same may very well happen with Dennis Srbeny.
Obviously, I’m not suggesting that piling the entire weight of Norwich City on his shoulders next year is the answer - he will undoubtedly need help - however, providing he is given a partner in crime or two, I’m confident he can lead the line.
Even before breaking his duck I started to notice something about him, but perhaps now he has we will see even more from him.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Nelson Oliveira depart soon, so I say give him the number nine shirt (if he wants it) and watch him become a real menace.
A rave review of Raggett
This week, I have been on a course with a number of other reporters in Bristol.
One of these happens to be a Lincoln City fan, so naturally, conversation turned to the illusive Sean Raggett.
In my last column, I raised my concerns about why he isn’t figuring in Daniel Farke’s plans and why he wasn’t sent back to the Imps - assuming he wasn’t going to be in the plans.
My worry is, if Farke doesn’t think he’s read now, will he ever?
I raised these fears with said Lincoln fan, who came back with a description that fills me with a bit more hope for what Raggett could offer.
I’m paraphrasing, but he described Raggett as the best defender he had ever seen in a Lincoln shirt and that in the few years he had been at the club, he had only witnessed him make one mistake.
He said he wins everything in the air - no mean feat in League Two - is good with the ball at his feet and that he was “destined for bigger things.”
Time will tell, of course, but it’s reassuring to hear such glowing reviews.
Harrison Reed is making me a (temporary) Saint
How good has Harrison Reed been the past few weeks?
Aston Villa was one of his best games in a City shirt and I feel he’s been one of the more understated performers of the campaign.
Like every other player in the squad - James Maddison included - he’s had the odd off day, but for me, he’s been a really valuable asset.
Given the commitment he’s shown this year, it’s fairly easy to forget he is a loan player. Nothing about him says ‘mercenary’ like so many other loans in the past have. I won’t name names, but Glenn Roeder signed the vast majority of them.
However, as good as he has looked, I’m not 100pc certain he screams out ‘Premier League midfielder’ - yet.
This is why for the remainder of the season, I’m a Southampton fan (when it comes to the top tier)
If the Saints continue their rancid form and join us, he will be a very useful Championship play - for them.
If they stay up, and I were Stuart Webber I’d be on the phone immediately.