Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 3-1 Championship win against Sheffield Wednesday
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Carrow Road
1. Mighty Maddison - Alex Pritchard may be back in the fold but right now the 21-year-old is City’s main man.
Another goal, another assist and it was his energy and drive that proved the catalyst after another largely lacklustre 45 minutes at Carrow Road.
The looming spectre of the January transfer window may set a palpitation or two going amongst City’s support but inevitable speculation around the England Under-21 should just underlines his growing influence. D
aniel Farke’s methods may have been scrutinised in the fallow periods but his faith and nurturing of Maddison should not be dismissed lightly.
2. Kick on, Nelson - There was no doubt who was going to take the match-sealing penalty when Harrison Reed tumbled under Barry Bannan’s challenge.
The sure-footed finish from 12 yards demonstrated Oliveira in top gear is a quality operator.
It looked like another frustrating shift was in store when he was denied three times by Keiren Westwood. In the first half he guided a side footed finish agonisingly wide. It was the effort of a man on barren run.
Westwood denied him minutes later with a low parry to claw out his header. Then again seconds after the restart from Alex Pritchard’s flighted centre. Farke has persevered with the Portuguese striker during his barren spell. Both he and the forward deserved some respite.
One would hope that is the start of a pre-festive spurt.
3. Tempo football. Not tepid - The contrast was so marked as to prompt the question just Farke must have said at the interval to his troops.
The half-time whistle saw a procession of yellow shirts head for the sanctuary of the home dressing room with heads bowed and confidence drained. Sheffield Wednesday had toyed with them as the opening period elapsed after Jordan Rhodes’ finish.
Albeit Westwood denied Oliveira after the striker had guided an earlier shot wide.
But the urgency and the aggression was enough to topple the Owls and get an vexed home crowd back onside. City fans will forgive a lot if they can see a side with the hunger and desire to try and bridge the gap to wealthier rivals.
4. That’s entertainment - Only Birmingham had scored fewer than Norwich’s eight goals at home this season before kick-off. That is a paltry total in 10 Championship tussles at Carrow Road. A first three-goal salvo in the league was long overdue. And timely.
With a predictably adverse reaction to the requests to sit down in a section of the Lower Barclay earlier in the week and season ticket renewals around the corner these are uncertain times in the relationship between club and fan.
You could hardly blame a few loyalists seriously considering whether they want to continue to turn up, more out of a sense of duty than any prospect they might actually be raised off their seats with an exciting brand of dashing football.
Serve up more of that vibrant second half football they offered against the Owls and the goals will come. Those first half grumbles turned into positive encouragement from the home fans as the players stirred. Give them more of what they want.
5. Twist again, Daniel - Farke earned plenty of praise for the way he re-invented his Norwich side after that debacle at Millwall earlier in the season.
Granted, Alex Tettey has been unavailable during a long winless run but there was the suspicion of a worrying stubbornness regarding the German head coach’s selections and approach of late.
Mainly in the continuing faith placed on the shoulders of Mario Vrancic and the willingness to select Josh Murphy.
One has struggled to adapt to the physicality of the English second tier. The other looks bereft of confidence. Mercifully, Farke ended the young man’s pain at the interval.
Marley Watkins offered thrust and pace in his place.
We know Farke is determined to build the play with measured passing motions. But City’s urgency in the second period was built on directness rather than the lateral movements that so frustrate many supporters.
Farke must remain versatile in his selections and approach from here.
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