Michael Bailey: Getting shirty, all hail Sir Alex and hammered from the start – Six things learned from City’s salvaged start
PUBLISHED: 22:33 05 August 2018 | UPDATED: 22:33 05 August 2018
After another opening day with a decent dollop of late drama, PinkUn Show host and Norwich City correspondent MICHAEL BAILEY delivers his six things learned as the Canaries kick-off with a St Andrew’s point.
1 – The case of history repeating
In truth, it’s been a different build-up to last season. Big sales, the same manager and less fervent excitement over what Norwich City could possibly achieve come the next 10 months or so.
And yet once the dust settled on City’s first foray of the Championship this time, the similarities were stark: a late equaliser and spells of looking a little wayward, in amongst a generally positive performance that would not have deserved defeat.
The echoes of Fulham last August fortunately ended with Onel Hernandez throwing his shirt generally around, rather than at his head coach.
It’s quite remarkable that James Husband was the only player to start at Craven Cottage and on Saturday at Birmingham – and reiterates it’s not as simple as saying City’s transition is over.
Of course, the caveat was that it was Birmingham rather than Fulham – but still, let’s hope City’s St Andrew’s character is the start of something better.
2 – Negative noises do indeed travel
Following City, processing the opinions of thousands of fans – it can be fractious at the best of times. But there was no easing into it come the first game. For many it was straight in, and all in.
As a result, there is clearly no hiding this season is not a fresh start for Daniel Farke. People are expecting a significant improvement – especially at Carrow Road.
But likewise, objectivity shouldn’t be dismissed because it doesn’t fit a desired narrative.
It had been a long time since Farke had Tom Trybull and Alex Tettey fit at the same time. Picking the pair was entirely understandable given their partnership last term. I’d say the same about playing two holding midfielders away from home. The solidity was welcome – and not the reason City fell behind in the second half.
Likewise, Farke’s subs made an impact – good for him, and especially the trio who came on. They now have momentum – and their boss will need to acknowledge it.
3 – Onel has set his bar far higher
We almost always make judgments too early. It’s both human nature, and now a significant flaw in how our society operates. At least it doesn’t prevent anyone from re-evaluating their thoughts.
It’s worth noting that as last season drew to a close, Onel Hernandez’s influence was growing. This pre-season, he was arguably City’s most consistent performer.
But what we saw on Saturday was the potential to be a crucial development in City’s attempts to improve on last term.
While his first goal may owe a fair amount to some poor goalkeeping, Hernandez could have had four goals on Saturday. His pace and movement were not only apparent – they were making big moments; the sort that will be taken if they keep coming along – which is now the winger’s challenge.
Sidenotes here to Ben Marshall’s vision for City’s first – and an intervention from Dennis Srbeny for the second that raised eye-brows. Both played their part.
4 – All should hail the Tettey machine
It wasn’t two goals or pulling the strings, laying chances on a plate or even enough to keep a clean sheet. The fact Norwich actually conceded from the first corner they faced this season, will no doubt have Farke fuming. The good news is, City did at least repel the next three.
But it was miraculous – to the point where even the man himself probably has no idea how he pulled it off.
Alex Tettey’s efforts for the Canaries’ cause were quite extraordinary – coming off the back of 45 minutes of pre-season action at Lincoln almost a month ago, and then a dose of chicken pox.
There is no way City’s long-serving Norwegian should’ve started – never mind lasting 90 minutes. The time for others will come. For now, it’s a pat on the back for Mr T.
Perhaps a word here for City’s freshly installed skipper Grant Hanley, who also didn’t have a huge amount of pre-season action. He’s capable of better than Saturday – as we know – and that will come with games.
5 – Bluesprint will tell us much more
Some of you may be reading this and feeling it’s all too positive for a draw against a side that could be relegated come May. It’s a valid discussion at such an early stage of the season.
There were certainly City mistakes in both Blues goals, accompanied by decent finishes – especially the first. Let’s see if we get some trends over the coming weeks.
But from wondering if we would see hints of crisis at Birmingham following their difficult summer – much like Blackburn two years ago – instead Norwich faced a unified club and in an ironic twist, a little-changed side that had none of the teething troubles others encountered across the Championship.
It may still represent a missed opportunity for Norwich, given the Blues’ goalkeeping situation. Garry Monk even felt a draw was a fair result, despite his side leading with barely seconds to go.
Either way, recent history tells us Monk will have a job on his hands to hang around.
6 – Lessons are there to learned
Heading into the season, there were things I wanted to see – and plenty I hoped that I wouldn’t. And yes, I did fear more attempts at an overexposed defensive line away from home. Hence why you won’t find me criticising Farke for his opening team.
The abilities of City’s head coach to progress his side’s play is at the crux of what this season holds – it could even prove a big advantage, when so much of the Championship is starting a new project of their own.
The next proof of what has really been learned from last season arrives at Carrow Road with West Brom.
In a trick of the light, Norwich face a near-identical test to when Sunderland rocked up in City’s second game last term. The Black Cats did a number, and then got relegated. That hurt.
Much like Jordan Rhodes not scoring on Saturday – if he keeps getting those chances, he will – on Saturday, City have their own chance to put a big part of last season right.
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…