Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-1 Championship draw at Barnsley
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Oakwell
1. Fault line - Another draw, another game without a win, another outing where the focus remains on the top end of the pitch.
All those statements are factually true but Barnsley was also another magnificent response to fresh adversity.
Not merely falling behind to the Tykes but in the illness and injury that ravaged Daniel Farke’s squad in the build up.
The sight of Christoph Zimmermann and Alex Tettey in the starting XI was really a case of needs must. Harrison Reed was another body for the bench but Farke revealed afterwards not a viable option for the pitch.
This season is rapidly turning into something akin to a tug-of-war, with one end of the rope held by those growing tired of the lack of goals and the failure to harness genuine upward mobility.
The opposite end is grasped by those who see positive signs of this new way, the commitment to youth and the financial pressures that continue to impinge on moulding a promotion-challenging squad.
We saw both faces at Oakwell. It ended a draw on the night and the battle for hearts and minds will rumble on to Reading.
2. Josh Murphy - All the talent, yet to produce it on a consistent basis.
That mantra appears to have accompanied Murphy for far too long. But as Farke said quite rightly earlier this season, if he was delivering to his full potential every week then Murphy would have long since departed for a top-end Premier League club.
Right from when he burst into the first team, way back on Chris Hughton’s watch, there has been a tantalising glimpse here and there of Murphy’s craft but Norwich fans are still waiting for the dam to burst.
This was another encouraging shift, once he was shunted back to a more familiar left-sided berth with Onel Hernandez’s arrival.
One goal, one near miss and one effort skied over deep in stoppage time that could have really grabbed the headlines.
Farke is an advocate of deploying Murphy in a more central role, but the sharp increase in his productivity when switched to the left in the final quarter should give him more food for thought.
3. Signs of life - Murphy slotted home an equaliser from James Husband’s low cross.
The former Middlesbrough defender must have thought he was swapping the north-east for a regular starting berth when he pitched up at Carrow Road.
He may have thought twice if he knew there was an unheralded teen by the name of Jamal Lewis waiting in the wings.
Human nature suggests these past few months must have been tough for the likeable Husband, as he watched Lewis’ meteoric rise from the sidelines.
Farke urged his fringe men to grab any chance going in the build up and this was an encouraging response.
Lewis may be the longer term prospect but Husband appears to offer more in an attacking sense right now down the left flank. The prospective Northern Ireland international is probably in need of a break after a weary display at Hull.
The floor could be Husband’s for the time being.
4. Hail the Viking - Farke’s description of Tettey’s bloodied foot injury, that led to his exit on a stretcher, put you in mind of that iconic scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when the Knight treats a loss of limbs in a stand-off with a sword-wielding rival as a mere inconvenience.
Putting such frivolity to one side, Farke’s post-match fears for Tettey’s career brought home the scale of a gaping wound inflicted by his team mate (Husband) in a freak collision as they sought to thwart a Barnsley attack.
Tettey was not even supposed to feature, with his on-going knee condition exacerbated by City’s recent gruelling spell. That, and the disciplinary precipice he was on with another booking triggering a two-game ban.
As it is, the midfielder could miss a chunk of the run-in now, depending on the extent of the injury and the recovery period.
Tettey’s future beyond the summer may lie elsewhere but should that be the case he deserves to say his farewells on the pitch. Not on crutches.
5. There is always someone worse off - City cut Ipswich’s lead to three points in the on-going skirmish for some neighbourly pride at finishing in a higher mid-table Championship position - if that is not a contradiction in terms.
But in front of another sparse Portman Road crowd on Tuesday night, Mick McCarthy edged ever closer a seemingly inevitable summer exit in a 3-0 defeat to Norwich’s weekend conquerors, Hull City.
McCarthy was baited and berated by large swathes of those Town fans who did brave the cold.
Divorce looks inevitable.
Contrast that with the groundwork being laid at Carrow Road this season.
A final flourish to ease past the Blues down the home straight in the final standings would fool no-one this has been nothing other than a season of transition.
But with an end of era feel engulfing the Suffolk end of the footballing divide, Norwich fans would confidently expect normal service to be resumed next season.
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