Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s epic Championship 3-2 win against Bristol City
PUBLISHED: 22:45 23 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:25 25 February 2019
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his Bristol City verdict after the Canaries’ stirring 3-2 Championship comeback win
1. King Kenny
Kenny McLean’s inclusion was another big tick in the box for the Scottish international with both Moritz Leitner and Mario Vrancic waiting in the wings.
If his appearance at Bolton was a decent audition to earn more than a fleeting role over the Championship run in he needed a command performance against the Robins to stay ahead of his central midfield rivals.
Bar the manner Callum O’Dowda glided past him to put Bristol back in front seconds after his first goal this was a headline grabber. The winner showcased his attacking instincts. A dropping ball was anticipated quicker than anyone else on the park before the composure to control with one touch and slam a half-volley home with his second.
It cannot have been easy since his return to fitness watching this promotion train from the bench. He could have a front row seat from here.
2. Hail Zimmer
Norwich’s captain spent large parts of this game seemingly on the deck or in need of treatment. Time after time he put his body on the line for the cause. Zimmermann’s story, from the fourth tier of German football, perhaps gets lost in the plot around the likes of Teemu Pukki or Emi Buendia.
The big centre back is unlikely to make many headlines on a weekly basis. But there was an absolutely crucial sliding near post interception deep in stoppage time to preserve City’s slender lead.
Tim Krul knew the importance in the manner he patted the grounded defender on the head. Zimmermann is a players’ player. He is also the leader of this backline in the white heat of battle.
3. How big?
It felt massive at the final whistle when all four sides of Carrow Road rose to acclaim the men in green and yellow.
Daniel Farke’s support staff lined up almost in a guard of honour by the tunnel to greet each player in turn, before Farke took his now customary position front of house to conduct the orchestra.
With West Brom and Sheffield United duelling in the late Saturday evening kick off and Leeds returning to action with a home win it will take time to assess the full impact of this comeback win.
But to end Bristol City’s seven-match winning run in the Championship and inject new-found momentum into the Canaries’ own promotion surge could mark a significant turning point.
4. Decisions, decisions
Farke may need a day or two to catch his breath. But with Vrancic returning to action in the closing stages well ahead of schedule following his ankle injury and both Leitner and Alex Tettey set to increase the level of competition, Farke has some serious dilemmas ahead.
Add in a late cameo for Timm Klose, Grant Hanley waiting in the wings and even dare one say it recent signing Philip Heise, and Norwich look well-equipped for the final push.
The strength of a home bench that can number so many seasoned internationals could just prove decisive.
Farke needs options to change games and he must make a double take now when he turns around and clocks the riches at his disposal.
5. To press or not to press. That is the question
There is a story within a story developing down the final stretch for the Canaries. It was most starkly evident on that mini tour of the north-west the previous week. The manner Preston pressed and harried at such a ferocious tempo was totally absent when City pitched up at struggling Bolton a few days later.
The Trotters appeared willing to concede territory and possession in a bid to throw up road blocks just in front of Remi Matthews.
That was simply an open invitation for Norwich’s most creative types to revel in the space and the time generously afforded to cause havoc. Bristol City appeared to adopt both tactics during various phases and the result was a worrying lack of control and vulnerability for prolonged periods.
A trait underlined by both first half concessions. You can be sure Championship rivals will pounce on any sense of weakness. But Norwich prevailed. That is all that matters between now and the final hurdle.