Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s battling 0-0 Championship draw at Preston
PUBLISHED: 17:09 21 April 2018 | UPDATED: 18:47 21 April 2018
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Deepdale
1. Brave battlers - You could focus on any number of areas for concern. The fitful attacking urges and the lack of end product which have been a nagging sub-plot.
But City’s defensive resolution, when Preston moved through the gears urged on by Alex Neil and an increasingly frustrated home support, was admirable.
Timm Klose and the rest of his pals kicked, tackled and headed anything that came into Angus Gunn’s box.
There were inevitable close shaves and let offs along the way at Deepdale, but given the circumstances and the hosts on a play-off mission, Norwich should be applauded for digging in and digging out a spirited point.
2. Reed versus Pinto. Discuss - Daniel Farke clearly feels the Southampton loanee is offering him more in that defensive role on the right. Pinto was again kept in reserve.
Reed has looked far more assured in that role than the one he was originally earmarked for when he arrived from the south-coast.
But Alex Neil’s men targeted Reed with a succession of diagonal balls to test him aerially.
There were also one or two costly turnovers, when Reed dallied too long in possession.
All will become clear over the summer with both Reed and Pinto - out of contract in 2019 - but that January search for a right-sided full back may need to be re-activated by Stuart Webber and his recruitment team.
3. Two-faced - Farke’s pre-match comments about the struggles of his players to handle the imposing, physical sides in the Championship highlighted an enduring concern.
The memories of that pummelling at QPR on Easter Monday remain fresh.
Cardiff City eventually wore down the Canaries last time out at home as well. Farke’s philosophy hinges on harvesting technically proficient footballers, particularly across midfield, to dictate the tempo and control the possession.
That is admirable but the number of times a unit of James Maddison, Moritz Leitner and Mario Vrancic were no match for mobile raiding parties in white shirts underlined City also need adaptable resources who can do the ugly side.
City have the likes of Grant Hanley, Sean Raggett and Christoph Zimmermann, when fit, but they may need to add more.
4. Bystanders - Farke’s boys have got up close and personal with a number of the promotion players in the Championship over recent weeks.
Fulham, Aston Villa, Cardiff, even Preston. All with varying degrees of success.
But this time next season those 697 fans who made the trek to Lancashire and the many thousands back at home will hope and expect it is the Canaries operating under the same stress levels and with the same intensity and fury as Neil’s side.
The hosts tried everything in a desperate late second half push to search for a win which would have kept their fading play-off hopes alive.
5. Toiling Mr Maddison - This has been a huge breakthrough season for the England Under-21 starlet. Confirmation should come next week when he is crowned the player-of-the-year for a stunning campaign. But in speaking to the media on Friday Maddison honestly admitted his heavy workload has taken a toll at times.
This was definitely not one of his better days in green and yellow.
The corners more often than not hit the first man, the trademark free kick accuracy was absent and there was a late booking for his troubles in a flashpoint that sucked in a number of players on both sides.
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