Michael Bailey: Warm words, battle-hardened Timm and proof he exists! – Six things learned from City’s Royals rumble
PUBLISHED: 10:12 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:12 19 March 2018
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After a day when both sides feared deja-vu, PinkUn Show host and Norwich City correspondent MICHAEL BAILEY delivers his six things learned as the Canaries rally to beat Reading at a freezing Carrow Road.
1 – Goals do not warm you up
One stat away from the usual list on Saturday was the temperature – which allowed to claim how cold they were and when they last felt it.
I’ve been going to Carrow Road since 1989 and I can’t remember a colder day. Hopefully all those goals warmed you more than my exposed fingers. For the record, Saturday was the first time City have scored three at home since December. They had scored six in the seven home games since that 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday win.
While the cold noticeably dampened the atmosphere, it didn’t stop everyone. Ivo Pinto showed not every Portuguese struggles with freezing conditions, in his short sleeves and bare hands.
The cold may have shaved the attendance too – a theory to test once Easter arrives – hopefully with warmer air.
Fortunately we had a lack of the hot variety. In fact, it was nice to see City’s three goals outstrip their expected goals score of 2.4; too often at home this term, it’s been the other way round.
2 – Dennis is finding his feet
Behold, we saw something very special at Carrow Road on Saturday – the sight of a striker winning a flick on and finding a team-mate. Twice, I reckon.
From looking somewhat lost and even more off the pace, January arrival Dennis Srbeny was visibly displaying the size of the jump in class facing him in his first Norwich City appearances – none more so than his previous start at Carrow Road against Bolton. And don’t forget, he cost £1m.
Reading offered mitigation in a woeful defensive effort, but Srbeny also deserves real credit for a sizeable leap forward – linking the play and involving others in a way no striker has managed this term.
He couldn’t quite get his goal – and that miss might haunt him until he does. That would be only natural.
But with the examples of Christoph Zimmermann and Mario Vrancic – who was outstanding on Saturday – it would be great to see Dennis follow their lead and progress right before our eyes.
3 – City are not what they were
Every season passes in phases of form, fitness or injuries – perhaps the very nature of Daniel Farke’s task this season has exacerbated the swings.
Many have levelled criticism at City’s nonexistent crossing all season, never mind the feeling of slow, passive probing that has failed to get supporters out of their seats.
For the record, I don’t particularly subscribe to all the complaints – the key thing is always the score we all leave with. But if they were objectively held opinions, then those same people should be able to see how things are changing.
The wide role on the right is allowing Onel Hernandez to show the direction of City’s recruitment policy. He is starting to excel and excite.
While down the left – where City have been most productive all season – is now being led by an FA Youth Cup winger with 100 appearances to his name and a glint in his eye. The wider role is letting Josh Murphy shine – and long may it continue.
4 – Timm can take one for the team
It started with the latest ridiculous refereeing call in a Norwich game, as Oliver Langford and his assistant missed Sam Smith’s horrendous tackle on Timm Klose inside 15 seconds.
How it wasn’t a yellow card can be explained only by the fact the pair were so cold, their brains hadn’t yet warmed to the task at hand.
Klose’s race looked like it had already been ran – while fresh from being “nearly dead” at Barnsley, big Christoph Zimmermann was ready to step in again.
But it’s a sign of the Timm Klose now playing here at City, that the Swiss centre-back not only continued – but also found the chance to block a shot with his face, stagger around as if he’d been knocked out and plug his bloodied nose with cotton wool. There was no way Timm was leaving that boat of his early on Saturday.
Last word here to Langford however, whose inactivity for most of the game offered the other extreme to Tim Robinson’s Hull meddling.
5 – Royals proof isn’t palatable
Maybe last season the sight of Joey van den Berg in a Reading shirt suited them. But this term, his mix of kicking people’s legs and falling over when touched have rather summed up Reading’s season.
Last season’s trouncing at Carrow Road left City fans bewildered at how Reading were claiming a play-off place. But for the odd spot kick, they would now be in the Premier League.
Instead, Jaap Stam’s notable good work on the Royals’ style, attacking shape and young talents is threatening to be undone by what looks from the outside, like an overhyped expectation based on the club ownership’s perceived wealth.
Fair play to Reading for sticking by a man who they believe has what it takes to rebuild, develop and lead. But the Royals are in serious danger of relegation – and philosophies don’t save you.
And that’s exactly why signs of progress are so important to the health of the project right here at City.
6 – Now a new game is beginning
And there he was, warming up as if something depended on it – albeit, not quite his life.
Marcus Edwards’ first appearance in a Norwich squad since arriving on loan from Tottenham in January won’t do much to answer the questions over the young man’s maturity and readiness to contribute – but it did at least prove he exists.
From the next 10 days, Edwards gets to contribute to England Under-20s, where he will hope he gets to show more of what he’s got – and he won’t be the only one.
With weekend speculation over the futures of both Angus Gunn and James Maddison, their weeks away with the Under-21s will offer another chance to impress – in the same way Jacob Murphy shone while away from Norfolk.
Such moments out of a yellow shirt can really have a bearing on how long players spend in it when they return – and while international football has had a limited impact on City’s 2017-18 season, that could yet change.
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