Paddy’s Pointers: The pressing issues on Norwich City’s German tour
PUBLISHED: 10:04 17 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:05 17 July 2018
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City tackle FC Union Berlin on Tuesday night in the second game of their tour. Paddy Davitt offers his take on what pre-season has thrown up so far.
• Time to go all in, Remi
Norwich’s homegrown keeper looked like he was going to be the man in possession, following the departure of Angus Gunn.
But the sands feel like they are already shifting with Matthews yet to stamp his authority in these pre-season affairs.
It might still be about fitness rather than results but the Gorleston-bred keeper would not have enjoyed the manner of Lincoln City’s gifted late consolation or the strike from the edge of the box from SC Paderborn’s Philipp Klement that nestled inside his left-hand upright.
Without seeking to over-analyse Daniel Farke’s rotational policy to this point, both Matthews and Michael McGovern have yet to put down a marker.
Gunn was a top drawer operator with hands and crucially feet.
A last line comfortable in possession and able to build the play as opposition forwards press high is a prerequisite under City’s head coach.
If the people who matter feel the answer is not staring them in the face, then there remains time to target reinforcements.
• Lonely Leitner
SC Paderborn’s energetic pressing across midfield had the desired effect in the opening half of City’s tour friendly.
Leitner is in this side for his ability to dictate the tempo and showcase his array of passing but he was largely a peripheral figure as the blue shirts swarmed in the vicinty.
Farke said in the aftermath he was happy with the structure of the team but Leitner will face similar challenges on a routine basis in the Championship.
It looked a far better balance at Lincoln, with Alex Tettey sitting in front of the Norwich back four and Leitner much closer to Kenny McLean higher up the park.
Farke appears to have all the resources he needs in a key part of the pitch, but to get the best out of Leitner give the platform and let him do what he is best at.
• Full steam ahead
Which, in turn, could give Louis Thompson a big chance to fast-track his way into Farke’s Championship plans.
With Alex Tettey set to miss the big kick off after contracting chicken pox, Thompson has not looked out of place after such a hellishly long injury absence.
On the contrary, Teemu Pukki perhaps rightly earned the headlines for his role in the Paderborn turnaround, but Thompson was another key factor after his half-time introduction. City’s backline was afforded greater protection and it provided a launchpad to release the likes of Onel Hernandez.
Norwich have a midfield mix packed full of creative types.
That combative ball winner is a rarer breed, and with Tettey now poised to sit out the next few weeks, Thompson’s value has just increased.
• Sparring sessions
Farke appears to be indulging in more than a spot of deception for any Norwich fans looking to get the inside track on his potential line up for the Championship opener at Birmingham City.
Marco Stiepermann was deployed on the right of midfield against Paderborn, while at Lincoln he was on the left.
Kenny McLean has been shuffled in similar fashion while Ben Marshall arrived from Wolves after impressing in an attacking role for Millwall last season.
Yet so far Marshall has nominally operated at right back for his new club.
It smacks of Farke trying to get the balance right between minutes on the pitch and miles in the legs on the training pitch.
That said, a trip to St Andrews will rapidly loom into view so expect far less experimentation from this point.
• Loose ends
Stuart Webber, Steve Stone and anyone else at Norwich who played a role in City’s summer trading deserved plaudits.
The swiftness with which the potentially disruptive saga around James Maddison was concluded, plus the exits of Josh Murphy and Marley Watkins, were processed with a minimum of fuss and deposited vital funds back into the coffers.
City have managed to bring in six new faces in good time for Farke and his coaching staff to assimilate new blood.
But there remain a number of loose ends.
Russell Martin’s inclusion in the touring party as an experienced foil for the Under-23s, following on from his comments earlier in the summer suggesting he doesn’t expect to feature, hint a mutually agreeable split may be on the cards.
There will be others on the margins of the first team squad who the club may look to move on and then there is the continued uncertainty around Nelson Oliveira. Plenty of work has been done to reshape the squad, but you sense there is more to come.