Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-2 Championship draw at Wolves
PUBLISHED: 17:01 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 22 February 2018
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Molineux
1. Top of the pops - Rank this game above any other for Norwich City this season under Daniel Farke.
Better than those cup jousts against the Premier League’s biggest hitters. Better than Middlesbrough or Reading. Better than Portman Road, better even than Carrow Road and the explosion of noise that greeted Timm Klose’s 95th minute equaliser.
City needed two minutes less at Molineux but this was no less dramatic.
Given Wolves kicked off the evening 11 points clear of their nearest promotion rival, falling two goals behind was not in the script for Norwich. City were simply over-powered in the opening skirmishes, allied to some self-inflicted help along the way. Farke felt there was a lack of inner belief. But what a riposte.
This was Derby County and then some in the manner they suffocated the best team in the division, starving them of possession and limiting those devastating counter-attacking bursts.
John Ruddy’s late, late error may have ultimately gifted his old side a point but it also sealed a comeback from the most arduous terrain.
2. You can’t keep a good man down - Left out of the side in favour of Dennis Srbeny, you would have got long odds on Nelson Oliveira proving the match-saver after 11 games without a goal.
Now there will be slim pickings to be had that he is not on the scoresheet against Bolton this weekend. One swipe of his right boot and one calamitous misjudgement from Ruddy may have altered the course of Oliveira’s season.
A man bereft of confidence in front of goal may feel unburdened as a by-product of finally getting his name up in lights.
Farke would have needed all his diplomatic skills to explain the reasoning behind Oliveira’s removal from the starting XI. But if the axe added any extra venom to his work in that decisive late cameo at Molineux - and proves a catalyst for more of the same - it will go down as a brilliant piece of man-management.
3. Mind the gap - No, not the fact Norwich clambered above Ipswich for the first time in many a month, after Town slipped up at a less than half-full Portman Road against Cardiff while Norwich were staging another salvage operation.
Farke framed a trip to Wolves as a barometer for how far his squad have come and how they have to go.
He was right about one thing.
Norwich were a different proposition to the side who tamely rolled over in the corresponding league fixture. Wolves may be suffering a case of the jitters as the finishing line draws closer and the Premier League comes into sharp focus.
But Farke must feel the gap is bridgeable next season after watching the way his players matched the champions-elect.
The caveat, of course, is another transfer window will have to be delicately negotiated this summer and any upheaval from departures of some key figures not allowed to derail real signs of progress.
4. Stick your head in where it hurts - Literally, in the case of Norwich’s opening goal scorer Christoph Zimmermann, who was so desperate to retrieve his initial failure to cut out a Wolves throughball in a frenetic final quarter he threw his head in the way of an attempted grass cutter.
It was an act of bravery with no regard for his own personal welfare.
It was instinctive and illustrated what type of character Farke brought with him from Borussia Dortmund’s shadow squad. Zimmermann is not the finished article, there was another moment of rashness in the build up to Jota’s goal, but the raw material is there and each passing game is another statement of intent.
5. No bucket and spade yet - Given away games against two genuine promotion candidates in Derby and Wolves, sandwiched around the visit of Ipswich, was packaged as a daunting spell of fixtures to come through unbeaten speaks volumes.
Add in the manner of all three comebacks and it suggests this squad still feel there is plenty to play for.
Bolton’s trip to Norfolk this weekend may in some quarters be seen as the start of a more favourable burst of Championship fixtures. Therein, lies the danger.
City have played with freedom and little or no expectations in the last two away games.
Now they have to prove they can decisively deal with the lesser lights.
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