Jon Punt: Farke must take responsibilty for City's problems
PUBLISHED: 11:18 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:21 13 August 2018
Let’s get this straight – there was a lot to like about Saturday’s performance.
Onel Hernandez at full pelt has that rare ability to regularly get bums off seats. Now he’s allied some end product to his blistering pace and dogged determination, the Cuban has the potential to wreak havoc in the Championship.
Jordan Rhodes seems to give the side the kind of focal point they so sorely lacked and his bundled poacher’s finish was the kind of strike too rarely seen last term. Add in Teemu Pukki’s early signs of intelligence and ability to pick a pass and this might just mean Norwich now have a plethora of options to utilise when prising open defences, rather than the often predictable ‘give it to Maddison’ we all became accustomed to. So kudos to Daniel Farke, Norwich fans wanted a more expansive side and for large portions of the match, they got one.
And yet it wasn’t enough. For as good as Norwich had been for half an hour, the same old habits seem difficult to shake off.
Or are they? Norwich’s undoing was entirely their own fault, all four of Albion’s strikes not really down to attacking prowess or unplayable pieces of creativity, but from calamitous dalliances on the ball, rushes of blood to the head, football shaped holes in the keeper’s gloves or positional ineptitude. All entirely avoidable. It’s easy to blame the players, to suggest these kind of scenarios aren’t really played out on the training pitches of Colney. However, there might just be a bit more to it.
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As much as Farke should be credited for injecting some much needed zest and purpose into Norwich’s play, he also needs to take accountability for his players’ errors.
It’s all too easy to deflect attention with a throwaway line along the lines of ‘you can’t legislate for individual mistakes’. Yet scratch beneath the surface and the personnel selected might just have been thrown under the proverbial bus, at least to an extent.
A bout of chicken pox left Alex Tettey with virtually no meaningful pre-season game time – hence he’s now having to play catch up with those around him more finely tuned. So it seems curious to allow the man to play the full 180 minutes so far when the likes of Ben Godfrey, Tom Trybull and Louis Thompson, all of whom have proved themselves capable to varying degrees, have topped up their own fitness levels during the summer. Tettey’s fatigue may have been a factor.
While Ben Marshall has formed a formidable offensive partnership with Hernandez already, this is all from a right back berth that he is at best a little uncomfortable with. Subsequently it might come as little surprise he was positionally found wanting prior to Dwight Gayle being felled for the visitors’ spot kick equaliser.
Ivo Pinto, for all his running and endeavour, was worryingly and regularly absent when play was turned over. Yet he was asked to occupy the opposite flank when Marco Stiepermann may just have been a slightly rounder peg to slot into the deep hole James Husband had managed to dig himself.
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Tim Krul’s clanger is slightly more forgivable. Goalkeeping gaffes will usually result in a concession. Having cast aside Remi Matthews as a viable number one, City’s recruitment team had to act fast. Krul may still be slightly undercooked in terms of sharpness, but his signing was borne out of a pressing necessity. However, again an argument could be made to suggest Matthews’ shortcomings could have been identified sooner, thus giving his replacement more time to adjust to their surroundings.
And so the game of whack a mole that is football management continues. Having witnessed stilted, but at times resolute defensive performances, the City faithful asked for more value for money.
Some would assert that’s a reasonable request when your season tickets are among the most expensive in the division. What wasn’t called for was a return to gifting the opposition a way back into matches. Subsequently the quest for a balanced side continues. It will define whether Farke remains at the club beyond 2018/19, and while there’s evidence to suggest the German has found solutions to problems previously, he will be afforded less patience this time around. What doesn’t help his cause is these issues are potentially of his own making.