Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s gripping 4-3 League Cup win at Wycombe
PUBLISHED: 13:29 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 07:11 27 September 2018
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Adams Park
1. Back to the future
Here is a good debate, Norwich City fans. When was the last time you had two genuine goalscoring threats capable of plundering in big quantities?
Possibly as far back as the League One days when Grant Holt and Chris Martin terrorised opponents, with Wes Hoolahan a creative support.
Now there appears another double act on the early evidence of a season which continues to hurtle along in positive fashion from uncertain beginnings. Teemu Pukki has weighed in with six goals for his new club.
The Finnish international has been nothing short of a revelation.
Jordan Rhodes pitched up in Norfolk with the pedigree and his devastating hat-trick at Wycombe was further evidence there are few better in the Football League inside the opposition penalty area. All three goals were unique in their own way but fresh examples of the Scottish international’s predatory instincts. He should have had a fourth as well on the night. Only the referee saw the handball that brought Louis Thompson’s pass under control before a calm finish.
2. Ref justice
Daniel Farke is not a coach who treats baiting officials as a sporting past time. But Farke was clearly exasperated by Mr Simpson’s performance at Adams Park.
There was a tongue in cheek barb over the official’s decision to award Wycombe a penalty, at 4-1 down, which he suggested was an act of sympathy towards the underdogs. He felt Ben Godfrey appeared to get enough on the ball in challenging Alex Samuel to cast enough doubt, but the referee had little hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Farke was also adamant Craig Mackail-Smith’s boot was dangerously high in the build up to Wycombe opener; and the luckless Godfrey had the scars to prove it.
Add in Rhodes’ disallowed ‘goal’ and it was another factor that turned what should have been a routine cup win into a tense passage.
3. Selection poker
The City chief insisted afterwards he would relish his striker selection headache for Wigan’s upcoming Championship visit this weekend.
It would be a huge call to retain Rhodes at the expense of the prolific Pukki after his cup heroics.
Farke teased there will be occasions when he can pair both, with Dennis Srbeny also in the mix, but Rhodes’ goalscoring display at Adams Park meant Srbeny had to curb his own natural instincts in a deeper role. There was still a golden chance spurned to add to his own tally, when Mario Vrancic set him free, but a lifted finish clipped the bar. Farke will want such competition to drive his forwards onto even greater heights. One thing is for certain, Nelson Oliveira will not be anywhere near this equation any time soon.
MORE: Have your say on our Pinkun forum
4. Extra-time Emi
City’s Spanish import, Emi Buendia, was one of only two survivors from the 1-0 league at QPR last weekend. Buendia was hooked at Loftus Road after one too many careless passages of play for his head coach. Given Ben Marshall and Onel Hernandez are currently unavailable, the Argentine Under-20 international represents something of a precious commodity.
But Buendia still needs time to adapt to the English game; particularly after an injury-disrupted pre-season for his new club. We saw more glimpses of his quality at Adams Park with assists for Rhodes. Farke is clearly a huge fan of his ability to influence games in the Championship.
Despite his relatively diminutive frame, the young man also appears to relish the physical challenge. But Farke must also manage his workload.
5. The Joy of Six
Farke and Pukki, for that matter, must be firmly in the running for September’s monthly awards. That is a signal how steep the curve has bent upwards and also a concern just how long the Canaries can maintain their current unbeaten surge.
Victory over Wycombe extended the run to six matches, ahead of a Championship home tussle against surprise packages, Wigan.
The City chief has already ruled out any repeat of the collapse last season that followed the end of a similar 10-match streak. The Championship is unforgiving terrain but should Norwich’s injury issues ease from here to Christmas the squad appears to have more depth and variety this time around.
Where that takes them perhaps rests on the relative strength of the rest of the division.
There might not be a stand out team to emerge from the pack in the manner Wolves dominated proceedings.
That could offer potential for growth, but half the league will harbour the same hopes. All City should focus on is what has worked in these last six, namely taking care of their own business.