Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 5-1 Championship hammering at Sheffield Wednesday
PUBLISHED: 20:23 06 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:30 07 May 2018
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Hillsborough
1. Madders. It was a blast - We can come to the carnage on the pitch shortly.
But if this proves to be James Maddison’s swansong ahead of a Premier League bid too sweet to turn down this summer then it was a sad exit.
Hobbling to the touchline and straight down the tunnel nine minutes into this rout. Before re-emerging at the end on crutches with his left knee in a protective brace.
The initial post-match fitness bulletin from Daniel Farke was suitably gloomy. Scans over the next 24 hours will assess the extent of his left knee injury. Farke was not interested in the potential fallout, if Maddison faces a lengthy time on the sidelines.
Maddison’s ability to attract serious Premier League interest has always looked a key plank of City’s upcoming transfer strategy. All concerned will hope those scans bring positive news. But this would still be a sour farewell.
Contrast it with the fanfare that accompanied Wes Hoolahan out of the football club last weekend or even the stage-managed exit of Owls’ stalwart Glenn Loovens two minutes from the interval at Hillsborough. Maddison has been the one shining light in season which ended on a worryingly low note.
By his own admission, those miles on the clock for club and country may have dulled his influence down the stretch but should he have played his last game in green and yellow, City fans should remember the good times. And City’s top brass spend the potential dividend wisely.
2. Leitner audition - Should we have seen the back of Maddison, Farke has dropped more than one hint he would love to be reunited with Moritz Leitner next season.
That will hinge on both the player and his parent club. FC Augsburg, but it would not take a leap of faith to envisage Leitner might be a leading candidate in that creative pivot role dominated by Maddison this campaign.
Perhaps we should not judge this audition too harshly, despite 80-plus minutes to make a compelling case following Maddison’s injury exit. Bar the clipped cross finished by Timm Klose.
One would like to see him with the protection of an Alex Tettey or Ben Godfrey behind him and potent forward options ahead to see the full array of his passing range.
Let’s see what the summer brings for all parties concerned.
3. Beauty and the beast - By no stretch would you describe Sheffield Wednesday’s Atdhe Nuhiu as pleasing on the eye. But the powerfully-built, physically imposing Owls’ frontman was too much again for Norwich’s backline.
The same as Matt Smith at QPR on Easter Monday. The same to a degree as Kenneth Zohore for Cardiff at Carrow Road and if you really want to dip into the book of horrors, Steve Morison and Lee Gregory in that early-season Millwall rout.
Nuhiu powered above Klose to slot Adam Reach’s first half cross and his sheer presence appeared to spook Angus Gunn and Christoph Zimmermann into challenging each other for the same cross. Nuhiu had a simple tap-in for probably the easiest goal of his professional career.
Gunn’s brilliant late point blank parry denied Nuhiu a hat-trick. But he got his matchball from the penalty spot in stoppage time.
Farke may feel he has muscle in central defensive areas to deal with the Champonship’s less complicated strikers, but there is enough compelling evidence to suggest big questions remain.
4. Powder puff - The statistics do not lie. Klose’s scant consolation was Norwich’s 24th goal away from home in the Championship this season. They mustered one more at Carrow Road.
The messages from inside the camp, both from Farke and on Friday Alex Tettey, underline the absolute critical importance attached to Stuart Webber’s quest for a genuine goal threat in the summer transfer window.
Norwich were again neat and tidy between both boxes at Hillsborough but the chronic lack of conviction among this group of players is painful to witness.
Nelson Oliveira was unmarked seven yards out early in the second half when a reply at that stage could have turned this game into a contest rather a procession.
Oliveira and Dennis Srbeny are not the answer. And those who matter at Norwich know as much. What can they do about it?
5. Mood music - Norwich fans should give it a day or two before taking the temperature. And I do not mean the sweltering temperatures around this part of South Yorkshire.
City go into the summer on a major low. Compounded by Maddison’s knee injury. But let the dust settle before gauging progress over the entirety of Daniel Farke’s debut campaign.
City’s top brass know the problems, but they will be judged next season on finding the remedies.
Norwich fans, in the main, appear to have bought into the long-term project underway. But a work in progress will not wash from August onwards.
For those hoping for a crumb of comfort from finishing above Ipswich, do not look at the final Championship table.
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt on the following channels…