Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-2 Championship draw against Preston
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Preston verdict after the Canaries’ 2-2 Championship draw.
Deal with the massive positive. For the second week running in the Championship Norwich City found a way to get a result. In that regard this was far more impressive than the opening day win at Huddersfield.
Preston is a streetwise outfit at this level under the combative Alex Neil. Twice they led, twice Norwich hit back.
And Przemyslaw Placheta should have had a match-winning brace if he had not slashed a close range shot over with the goal at his mercy.
But this was an error-strewn display from the hosts.
Too many individuals were not at the races. For long spells they also got dragged into Preston’s brand of honest endeavour. The high pressing, high tempo, physical thrust appeared to have a debilitating effect on Daniel Farke’s team.
It is perhaps worth remembering many of this new look squad have not been over this terrain before.
After a bruising encounter with North End one hopes they now fully understand what the second tier is all about. But a second game unbeaten is a solid foundation to build from.
2. Never in doubt
Farke bristled when asked at his pre-match press call if Teemu Pukki had lost the ability to score goals. He only needed to wait a matter of hours for the man himself to respond.
Declan Rudd will know he should have done better to keep out the glancing first half header but the boyhood City fan made amends with a superb stoppage time reaction save to foil the same player.
That chance came after Pukki’s razor sharp movement once again took him in front of the opposition defender. He was one of the few in green and yellow who looked up for the battle.
Pukki was sensational in the Championship last time around. To expect the same productivity is setting an incredibly high bar. But to doubt whether he still has the nous and the cunning to score in decent quantities at this level is to question the striker’s pedigree.
Perhaps the twin threats of Adam Idah and Jordan Hugill is contributing to drive up his performance level. Perhaps it is a period to rest and recuperate. Either way, this was another sign the Finn looks in the mood and capable of leading the charge.
3. Fan power
Those lucky 1,000 season ticket holders will remember this game for so many reasons. It was more than three points, or one point as it turned out after two comeback goals from the hosts.
It was a small signal that we may at some future point get back to the simple pleasure savoured by a full house at Carrow Road.
Norwich’s hard work to draw up plans for re-admitting supporters, when government and public health bodies finally indicated it was possible, meant they were prepared to take part in the Football League’s pilot.
Where that goes from here clearly hinges on checking the growing transmission rates across the country. If not in East Anglia at present.
But it was nevertheless a heart warming sight to see fans walking towards the ground in the sunshine, and then spread socially distant in the South Stand.
The noise that greeted the arrival of the players for the pre-match warm up brought home Farke’s words at Colney on Friday. Football is about supporters. If this is to prove only brief respite in the short term it at least raises hopes of an eventual return to normality. Whatever normal now looks like in.
Bayern Munich, PSG and now Barcelona. Max Aarons’ name certainly has done the rounds among the elite of Europe during this transfer window. For the Catalan club to have held talks with the Canaries might defy belief. But it has happened and for now it is parked.
City were similarly firm in their approach to Aarons as they were when Liverpool made a half-hearted attempt to sign Jamal Lewis.
Any proposal that does not contain an obligation to purchase beyond a potential loan stint is a non starter.
Quite right. Why would Norwich allow another club, even one as decorated as Barca, to borrow their prized asset on a loan or return basis?
But what will have irked is this headline-grabbing news broke on the eve of Preston’s visit. Given Barca are also heavily linked with Ajax’s Sergino Dest there is more than an echo to how Lewis appeared to only fleetingly be on Liverpool’s radar before Konstantinos Tsimikas was unveiled within days of that emailed approach.
No doubt putting Aarons name front and centre in the closing weeks of the transfer trading also suits the agenda of others.
It was one more reminder Norwich can be as clear as they want on what they want, or expect, to happen from here. But they cannot control the narrative.
5. Talking of which..
Emi Buendia’s absence from the match squad predictably had some Norwich fans fearing there was a transfer sub-plot afoot.
It a week where both the player and his head coach appeared to suggest all parties are happy to continue a beautiful relationship back in the Championship there will remain that clear and present danger things can still change while the window remains open.
But for now at least the Argentine failed a matchday morning fitness test on the bang to his shin in the closing stages of Friday’s final training session. Farke had made it clear he was only under consideration for a cameo given his lengthy absence due to a suspension and then a pre-season injury.
There is no question if City navigate the final weeks of this window with Buendia still in the building they have what Farke described at his pre-match press call as one of the best operators at this level.
Norwich fans just have to hope that phone does not ring at Carrow Road.
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