Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s thrilling 3-3 Championship comeback against Nottingham Forest
PUBLISHED: 22:30 26 December 2018 | UPDATED: 22:39 26 December 2018
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Carrow Road
1. Boxing Day knockout
Norwich have pulled off some comebacks this season. But none as epic as what unfolded in a mad, maelstrom at Carrow Road.
Trailing 3-0 after 76 minutes and raging at the perceived injustice of a penalty appeal turned down when Jack Robinson appeared to handle, before the same player then rifled the Reds 2-0 ahead, they simply turned on the afterburners.
Mario Vrancic pulled one back with a deflected goal that looked to be scant consolation. But the appearance of the time added on board with a minimum of seven additional minutes had a rejuvenative effect.
Onel Hernandez’s cross drifted inside Costel Pantilimon’s far post with 94 minutes on the clock before the Cuban’s persistence paid off when he rifled into the roof of the net four minutes later.
Cue the loudest, prolonged cheer Carrow Road has witnessed for many a year. Madness.
2. Fates with Farke
City’s head coach has got plenty right this season. But there seems an intangible force guiding the German and his side. Even when the odds looked frankly against them deep in the second half, Farke refused to concede defeat.
A tactical switch to three at the back and the introduction of Hernandez, Jordan Rhodes and Dennis Srbeny again produced results in breathtaking fashion.
Hernandez was introduced to add width, pace and thrust. But his two finishes were cool and composed. We won’t be churlish and contend the first was a cross to the far post that nestled inside the post.
There was a lovely snapshot the moment Hernandez’s second hit the net. Farke’s coaches and unused players spilled out of the dug out in the direction of the Cuban. Farke headed in the opposite direction towards the Lower Barclay.
The arms were outstretched, the face was contorted in pleasure and no doubt disbelief. There is a connection and a bond there now.
3. Aaahhhh Aarons
It really does say everything that it had taken 21 senior games for Max Aarons to make an error worthy of the name. Aarons has been nothing short of a revelation since his breakthrough.
Ben Marshall and Ivo Pinto have both had to defer.
England Under-19 calls and in recent days Premier League transfer speculation illustrate the rate of progress and how big the waves the 18-year-old is making. But his naivety was punished in the first minute of first half stoppage time when he attempted to check back inside his own penalty area to shrug off the attentions of Matty Cash.
The visiting midfielder read his intentions and then lashed a shot past Tim Krul at his near post. Aarons knew the scale of the error immediately.
So did a number of his team mates, who made a beeline for the distraught youngster before the restart with words of encouragement.
Take this as part of Aarons’ learning curve and move on swiftly.
4. Got any cotton wool?
Talking of prodigiously talented young full backs. Boxing Day last season was arguably when Jamal Lewis announced himself on the big stage with a composed start in an away win at Birmingham City. Lewis looked just as talented in his first six months of action as Aarons.
A full international call up for Northern Ireland followed and a new Carrow Road contract.
The level of trust Farke has shown is underlined perhaps by the decision to sanction a loan move for James Husband.
Lewis is now the only recognised senior left-back on the books at present. That must be an area worthy of consideration in the upcoming transfer window.
There was a few anxious moments prior to half-time when Lewis appeared to be troubled, and embarked a series of stretches to his left hamstring.
Farke confirmed afterwards it was a precautionary move to substitute him after the break, although cautioned he is now a major doubt for Derby’s pending visit.
Should the left-back be ruled out at any point it would expose a vulnerable flank. Those are the fine margins at play here.
5. Strap yourself in
Boxing Day marked the first game of the second part of the season. Given table-topping Leeds were staging a similar comeback to sink Blackburn at Elland Road as the carnage unfolded in Norfolk this may well be par for the course from here on in.
West Brom’s surge is continuing to gather pace and Sheffield United refuse to go away, after beating a Derby side 3-1 who now head to Carrow Road this weekend.
Farke and his support staff will need a few days to recover their poise and then assess perhaps the extent of injuries to Emi Buendia, Lewis and the sick Christoph Zimmermann, who pulled out prior to this game after the warm up.
Add Moritz Leitner being ruled out until the end of January with an ankle ligament injury and this already feels like a gruelling festive spell.
Where City find the collective character only Farke perhaps knows. But they will need much more of it from here.