Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 4-0 Championship win against QPR
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Carrow Road
1. Thanks big man - There was a lot of love inside Carrow Road for a man who has been a huge part of the journey since stepping out of Fraser Forster's considerable shadow. Ruddy led the team out on his 243rd and final Norwich City appearance, flanked by his two children. Alan Irvine had made it clear in the build up the big man was desperate to go out on a positive note. That in itself said it all but there was fine stop onto his bar from Pawel Wszolek in the first half. Once Alex Pritchard doubled Norwich's lead the only sub-plot left was could Ruddy bow out with a clean sheet. He delivered and deserved his final bow on a lap of appreciation.
2. Wes Hoolahan. Player-of-the-decade - The Republic of Ireland international was a hugely popular winner of the club's player-of-the-year, announced prior to kick-off. The churlish amongst City's support may focus on the sentimental aspect of the Dubliner's long-overdue recognition, given his influence over the second part of this campaign had waned with the blossoming of Alex Pritchard. To have not lifted the prestigious trophy at any point since his Carrow Road arrival in 2008 appeared an oversight which has now been addressed. If there was a player of the decade at Norwich, few would argue Hoolahan would be the outstanding candidate. His brace and two assists was a fitting encore.
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3. Alex Pritchard - If Hoolahan has been the man, then Pritchard is the emerging force. Another goal, arguably two given Hoolahan's first half goal may have brushed the pretender to his crown on its way in. Pritchard has responded to Alan Irvine's call. He is now unquestionably Norwich's number 10, the creative pivot and the spark that more often than not in recent weeks unleashes the latent attacking potential in this squad. Pritchard is unlikely to be short of suitors in the summer transfer whirl. It would be a retrograde step to allow the little magician to depart. He is pivotal to the fightback.
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4. Josh Murphy. Watch him fly - Jacob Murphy started the season with a bang. Josh Murphy finished it on an upward curve. Four consecutive Championship starts, the odd assist along the way, and a late and much deserved goal plus a visible surge in confidence from a young man who, like Pritchard, must have felt emboldened under Irvine. Murphy started this game in electric fashion with a couple of darts and a thumping shot that cannoned against the top of Alex Smithies' bar. He finished it in the same manner. It was a glimpse of what might be to come next season. Alex Neil's parting shot at his final press conference before he was dismissed was the hope the day was fast approaching when both Murphys start regular in the league for Norwich. That is a mouthwatering prospect.
5. Alan Irvine. The quiet man - Irvine may have been part of the Neil's regime but he has emerged as his own man, in the manner he has guided the squad through an uncertain period, his genuine faith in youth, rather than lip service to the idea of blooding youngsters, and in the unvarnished truth of his public pronouncements. City's top brass want him to stay, no doubt the players would not be averse either. But Irvine is canny enough and experienced enough to know it hinges on the thoughts of the new head coach. If the planets align, then Irvine should be persuaded to remain at Carrow Road.