MFW’s Gary Field was one of the heroic 919 at the Madjeski last night. He kindly offered us a few post-match observations…
Home grown and club developed…
It may have gone unnoticed by many that all but one of City’s previous seven Championship match day squads had contained the absolute minimum of seven ‘home-grown’ or ‘club developed’ players. With Grant Hanley already missing for several weeks, the pre-match press conference revelation of illness to Ben Marshall, suggesting that the Canaries would be numerically challenged to satisfy the requirement. A first League bench for Aston Oxborough, plus a full Championship start for Todd Cantwell, meant City again met the minimum requirement.
Maybe, given the financial restrictions associated with self-funding and an increased emphasis on the academy becoming a regular pathway to Championship football, the 919 Canary fans at last night’s game were getting a first real glimpse at the future – this may have to become the norm, rather than the exception out of necessity.
On last night’s performance, ‘veteran’ Jamel Lewis, Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell all gave little cause for concern. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to perform on a wet Wednesday night in Reading, but the real test will be to get regular opportunities to repeat the performance over ten, fifteen or twenty games.
Todd Cantwell: one of our own…
Aside from a fleeting substitute appearance in the FA Cup replay at Chelsea earlier this year, it was first chance to watch the Dereham youngster in any meaningful action. First appearances can be deceptive, of course, but from the clever reverse pass in the 14th minute that set Teemu Pukki away to the scoring, to sharing the short corner routines with Jordan Rhodes deep into injury team, Todd hardly put a foot wrong all evening. The slight appearance is also deceptive, pace and upper body strength combining to give a player who’s prepared to carry the ball deep into the final third – something I’m sure his team mates fully appreciate as welcoming relief, having spent much of the second half camped in their own territory. The loan away has certainly helped Todd’s development and it may just have put down a big market that Onel Hernandez may not be an automatic shoe in upon his return to fitness.
Teemu Pukki: More than just a goalscorer…
Okay, hands up, who was underwhelmed when Teemu signed? Me, for sure. Perhaps I was misguided by the words at the time from Chris Sutton, who indicated that his time in Scotland was less than successful and not to expect too much from him in the Championship.
Teemu’s game is about far more than the goals – welcome though they are. He’s deceptively quick, works tirelessly closing down opponents and his movements off the ball couldn’t be a greater contrast to a sulky Portugeezer – as free transfers go, this one could be the bargain of several seasons gone by. Football is clearly about far more than big transfer fees, thankfully.
“Another 4th division German”…
The irony, of course, is that Christoph Zimmermann is the only “4th division German” signed by the Canaries. His start to his second season of Championship football was limited to more than his fair share of unused substitute bench appearances in the first half dozen games. Grant Hanley’s unwelcome injury finally giving Christoph his first Championship start on Saturday. Last night, in the drizzling rain at Reading, you could be forgiven for thinking that his defensive centre back, Timm Klose, was the junior partner. Zimmermann was back to his best (minus the headed tackles) with frequent blocks and tackles, reading the game superbly, giving the opposition few opportunities in, or around the City goal.
Two wins on the trot….
Let’s be frank, City’s start to the season has fallen well short in many respects, not least points on the board. Yet, just two games on from a very poor game away from home to ‘that lot’, this is starting to look a more encouraging second season under Daniel Farke.
For sure, to use his favourite phrase, there’s still too much sideways passing, possession for possession’s sake, especially in the first half last night. City also need to address the issue of retaining far more possession when games become far more open, just like Reading did at the start of the second half. The ability to counter-attack with a degree of pace during the transition from defence to attack needs to be focused upon.
All that said, City are clearly developing an increasing degree of resolve and an improved sense of game management. Some may dislike the phrase, but it shows an essential ingredient needed to progress to the upper echelons of the Championship. The key, as always, is to repeat it at regular intervals – starting on Saturday at Loftus Road would be as good a place as any.
Alex B says
a very good analysis of the home grown player’s and the resolve shown by the whole team against a difficult side to beatvst home.
Watching it on sky I thought the Ref let Reading give Lewis and Aaron a few heavy tackles without showing any cards and also stopped city a few times when he could have played the advantage.
I was disappointed that city didn’t get the second prior to the Reading goal but a win is more points on the board.
Team Farke are now showing that they just might have a squad that could achieve a good finish this season and the harpengers of doom are out of line with the rest of the supporters.
Calling so early in the season for the coaching staff to be sacked was never going to happen it is like asking for investment under this ownership that will never happen.
Onwards and Upwards OTBC
Gary Field says
Alex, thanks for your reply. The game became very open at the start of the second half – City could have scored before Reading actually did.
All I’d say about Farke was that it always seemed like a two year minimum appointment to me, unless the wheels came off big time. They haven’t really, hence much of the noise seemed unnecessary.
martin penney says
Good points there Gary. All of them.
I agree with Alex B that with the current ownership we are unlikely to seriously progress (basically because they don’t want us to) but Farke & Co are obviously giving it their best shot. I’m sure we all understand the overall situation.
Those calling for their heads were OOO in my opinion. And to see the youngsters coming through is truly pleasing. Well done Daniel Farke.
I guess the harbingers of doom should take a few days off!
Gary Field says
Martin, not sure that I agree with your observation that the Board doesn’t want to progress at all – it’s always been my view that self funding needs regular helpings of Premier League cash in order to work properly. I’m sure they realise that too.
martin penney says
Fair enough mate.
All we (as supporters) can do is wait and see.
I guess you thoroughly enjoyed last night!
Jim Davies says
Teemu Pukki – “Come all without, come all within, you’ll not see nothing like the mighty Finn!” – to paraphrase Manfred Mann. I couldn’t believe his energy last night. He was still going strong at the end. Stieperman too, was a powerful force, and the added bonus of having three academy players producing such good performances bodes well for the future. Tim Krul is starting to look like the goalkeeper I remember when he was at Newcastle, clearly getting more confident with every game.
As for the passing across the pitch, it’s interesting to see the view of the Reading blogger on View from the Tilehurst End. He was full of praise for City’s “pass and move” style, particularly in the first half.
I thought the defence did well in the second half under lots of pressure, though a bit more composure at times wouldn’t have gone amiss. However, Super Mario deflated Reading somewhat with his instant reply to their goal, and at the end we could ( and probably should ) have added to our total. Shame Pukki was too generous, trying to set up Tettey instead of going for one himself. Still, a minor criticism, and just like Saturday, I’m ecstatic!