Michael Bailey: Mo love, Max gains, Town troubles and Rhodes pains – Six things learned from City’s latest unbeaten derby chapter
PUBLISHED: 10:29 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:30 03 September 2018
It happened again, sort of – PinkUn Show host and Norwich City correspondent MICHAEL BAILEY provides six more lessons from derby day as the Canaries leave Portman Road with another point off Ipswich Town.
1 – Canaries need Mo of the same
Clearly results will always cloud perceptions, and no doubt a few people would’ve had issues with Moritz Leitner’s afternoon at Portman Road if it had finished without his first goal for the club.
But it didn’t. Instead the man who ticks rather than plays, made his biggest impact in a yellow shirt to date. And one that will always come with extra credit.
At times Mo can feel like a luxury: an idealistic player in an all too often ruthlessly-pragmatic Championship. As we’ve all seen, some moments in games – even games in general – won’t allow City to play to his strengths.
Yet the pattern under Farke remains that Leitner is a key cog in the club’s short-term future – reliant not on upping his goal threat or assist output, but as much the bits before that. The switching, spotting gaps and setting a disruptive tempo.
No one should doubt his quality – 20 games into his spell, let’s see him take his influence to another level.
2 – Big calls can get a Max result
I owe Daniel Farke an apology. It just didn’t seem likely Tuesday’s Carabao Cup positives in Cardiff would result in starts at Portman Road.
From the man who threw Jamal Lewis into the deep end at Birmingham last season – a game where defeat would’ve put brought serious relegation pressure – came Max Aarons’ first league appearance, in a Portman Road derby. Max didn’t even get a substitute taste of the Championship first.
And boy did the 18-year-old repay his head coach’s faith – a solid display, coupled with attacking support. Even when it got ragged, Aarons always made sure he did enough to clear the danger.
After two cup outings at left-back, Aarons showed he deserves a run on the right and his proper side. Ivo Pinto’s injury should provide it.
It was equally bold to throw in Emi Buendia. He got a little lost in the second-half midfield maelstrom – but his time will come.
3 – Colney is bearing juicy fruit
Academy recruitment is a hidden gem. In some cases it costs significant money; in others the rewards can be far greater.
Ben Godfrey joined from York – then playing first-team football – while both Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis arrived from Luton Town.
From there, City can claim all the credit they need in developing a wonderfully robust holding midfielder with centre-back tendencies and a pair of attacking, energetic full-backs.
Indeed following Timm Klose’s half-time withdrawal through concussion, that trio plus captain Grant Hanley provided an average rounded age of 21 – believed to be City’s youngest defensive unit fielded this century (care of @ncfcnumbers on Twitter).
For all the work City have put in to plug gaps with cheaper players from leagues outside England, to the more exciting signings with most potential, it’s still the ones popping up from Colney that provide the most satisfaction. Long may it continue.
4 – The heat is starting to rise
It’s been something of a struggle in the last few games for Jordan Rhodes. The chances have dried up, and with it his effectiveness. He’s never struck me as your typical workhorse striker.
Having looked such a livewire after his opening goal in Wales, it was noted that Dennis Srbeny came on in the latter stages of Sunday’s derby – and immediately ran a few channels, holding the ball up.
To be clear, Jordan still put in the yards at Portman Road – and will have no doubt been desperate for a goal against his former club. But with each passing week and providing Srbeny maintains his current confidence, the gap between the two continues to decrease.
Much like Tim Krul, with the first flurry now dealt with and an international break to settle down, it could be an ideal time to take stock and restart refreshed.
The same battles are on at centre-back too, with Christoph Zimmermann facing a stint as fourth choice.
5 – It’s bonus points for the effort
And so to Ipswich Town and Portman Road. A place that was truly bouncing on Sunday, with supporters desperate to taste success over the one side they really love to hate.
How they managed to screw it up again is a priceless question. Unlike Leeds the previous weekend, Ipswich were unable to turn one into two within a few minutes – despite Norwich reacting to both initial concessions in a worryingly similar way. From then on, Town stumbled and stuttered.
It was a poor game, with both sides unable to produce real quality.
But that said, I’d still back Norwich to have more potential in the pot – conversely Ipswich’s supporters will need to ensure they keep that level of support and noise from here on it. Otherwise, the rest of the coming campaign could be rather difficult work.
The novelty of being Mickless will wear off soon enough, especially if their league position doesn’t lift.
6 – It’s a good time for a breather
At this point in the last two seasons, it’s been horrible. A 3-0 smashing at Birmingham to make everyone question whether Alex Neil could do it again in the Championship – and last year’s mauling at Millwall; precursors to long fortnights of international non-action.
So here’s to a smoother time of it this year. No meltdown and in truth, this time no open transfer window to put anything right.
Perhaps that’s why City could dig so deep – safe in the knowledge they would have a little break coming up; internationals excepted.
While Grant Hanley had to bail himself out at times, his bravery was exemplary. Likewise Louis Thompson, who may now have to spend several weeks on the sidelines recovering from a hamstring strain – the cost of sticking it out for the benefit of his team-mates in the final throes of a derby.
With Kenny McLean and Mario Vrancic on the comeback trail too, a breather is as good as a rest.
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