It may not have been the performance we’d hoped for but I don’t think too many City fans will be unhappy with last night’s point.
While performance levels are far currently removed from those we’ve become accustomed to in the second tier under Daniel Farke, the fact City are jogging along nicely at not far short of two points per game should at least be a source of comfort.
We just need to hope the level of performance eventually aligns with the results rather than the ordinary form eventually being matched by points on the board.
It feels like it could go either way, although those who love their metrics tell me that in terms of shots and possession we lead the way. Maybe that tilts the balance in City’s favour.
But there is still plenty for those who like a moan to get their teeth into, not least the way we still happily cough up goal-scoring opportunities for our opponents.
It goes slightly deeper too.
The Class of 2019 (I know we need to move on but it’s impossible not to use them as a reference point) were very good at being unmoved by conceding, which was handy as they conceded quite a lot. Right now, a goal against, particularly when we’ve been in the ascendancy, rocks them back on their heels.
The rhythm is lost, passes start going further astray, and we look vulnerable. There remains an air of fragility, with setbacks not handled well and last night, but for the brilliance of Tim Krul, Ivan Toney’s looping header – minutes after his goal – would have made rendered it game over.
The goal itself was a howler of Norwich City proportions, starting from our own throw-in and with the added accompaniment of one of those laissez-faire passes in which Todd Cantwell specialises.
For the sixth time this season (we’ve conceded seven) it was ‘soft’. Again, our opponents didn’t have to work particularly hard for it or have to rely on a moment of brilliance.
Cantwell’s indifferent performance – that wasn’t the only stray pass – may have been down to the injury that required a late fitness test, but on a night when Farke was forced to play Jacob Sorensen as an emergency left-back, a solid, responsible, dependable Todd would have been preferable.
That Sorensen rose to the challenge and grew in confidence as the game went on was commendable, especially with relatively little support down that left side.
But Todd wasn’t alone in having an uncomfortable night. As a unit, Brentford edged it in almost every area and showed themselves to be the title contenders that they are. That we emerged from such a game with a point was the one big positive.
Also worthy of note was how much more cohesive we looked when, late on, we set up as a back three with Sorensen moving over to be the right-sided centre-back. It’s a formation that was denied Farke for most of last season due to the centre-back crisis but is one that’s often mooted.
While I have my own reservations – it leaves you vulnerable in wide areas when you don’t have the ball – there was a pleasing look to how it worked against Brentford’s formation, albeit it would work even better with Xavi Quintilla as the flying left wing-back.
Let’s hope his injury isn’t a serious one.
A back-three, depending on the opposition, could well be on the table moving forward, not least because it allows Farke to play a second striker and also accommodates Mario Vrancic as one of the three central midfielders. Two boxes ticked in one fell swoop.
We’ll see, but it seems that a fit Sorensen is going to be a useful addition.
It was also noteworthy that City’s late goal came as a result of a speculative effort from Kenny McLean – one that was in fact going wide.
While Farkeball is based on the notions of possession, precision and care – and most of us love that – there are times when it cries out for someone to go old school and do what that bloke in the River End says.
PUT YOUR LACES THROUGH IT!
So embedded is the noble principle of pass, pass, pass there are moments when the opportunity to pull the trigger or to ping a cross into ‘an area’ are passed up, sometimes to the detriment of a goal-scoring chance.
McLean bought a ticket, as they say, and it paid off.
So, a good point earned the hard way, and a glance at the table suggests we’re in decent shape. That we are where we are and we’re still moaning is, I guess, a positive sign.
Another big test awaits on Saturday lunchtime.
Bring on the Brizzle.
Jim Davies says
Five out of ten for performance, but ten out of ten for getting themselves together and pressing forward late on to get the (albeit lucky) equaliser. It wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that we might even have nicked a winner. The Bees were certainly starting to get worried that that was possible.
Like you Gary, I thought Sorensen got better as the game went on, though he clearly is happier on the right. I think his left foot is just for standing on, he doesn’t seem to use it for anything else. He wasn’t slow in giving Max a rollicking for turning inside to play a backwards pass, when he’d got free on the right, and was screaming for the ball.
Not great to watch, but another point in the bag. Onwards and upwards!
Keith B says
I was impressed by (our) Sorensen last night; he’s clearly got a cool head, and is intelligent enough to adapt at short notice. I was disappointed with Placheta, but that was probably down to the lack of well-weighted delivery into his path. That pitch almost seemed to play like an artificial one at times.
We got what we deserved in the end. I was surprised when they took Dasilva off; it cut down their out ball options considerably. He looked the best player on the park to me, always available in space and positive when he got the ball. For all their silky skills, Vrancic, Buednia and Cantwell don’t seem to have the drive and athleticism he does.
Bristol City have a tough game tonight, and a day less to prepare for an early kick-off on Saturday.
Finally, what’;s wrong with us playing in green and yellow?
martin penney says
We have to use the second and third kits a certain amount of times to fulfil manufacturers and sponsors requirements as I’m sure you know anyway.
I’ve had a bit of a rant about the blue kit myself – give MFW a look tomorrow 🙂
Andy W says
It’s a decent point Gary. However, if you looked at the message boards after the game you would think we were joint bottom with Wycombe. Can we play better? Yes, but we are not rolling over and Farke will need to think carefully about how he uses his squad as the games come around so quickly. One of my criticisms of him during his spell in charge is that he is slow to make changes, either to the starting lineup or by bringing on subs. His use of subs has definitely improved this season, but he could still rotate the players a bit more. Only Krul, Aarons and Quinitilla would be automatic picks for me.
Don Harold says
My take on the game is that we were lucky that the first half didn’t result in an embarrassing score line, and we were much better in the second half and 3 at the back worked really well. I don’t think the final score was unfair to either side.
I hope we never, ever commission a blue kit again (it is blue-not petrol, green or anything else). It’s horrible. It’s almost as horrible as Canary Call; I’ve never listened to it before, and never will again.
Jason M says
Fair analysis Gary For me, it was a decent point earned and I would have taken that at the start. I wouldn’t be unhappy with the same on Saturday.
Credit to Sorensen who did an admirable job in defence at short notice.. We’re muddling through at the back despite being chronically under strength and getting down to the bare bones. I felt a big chill when Max went down injured, (thankfully only temporarily) but we really are cutting it fine in this area.
I posted a similar comment elsewhere this week, but I can’t work out so far if we’re underachieving or overachieving. Are we not peaking yet and heading towards a rich vein of form, or are we papering over the cracks with some good fortune? Still too early to gauge. Who would have thought Reading would be running away with it at the moment?
Good to hear he changed formation at last think back 3 would suit us just wish we would man mark instead of zonal….glad sorenson played too but feel sorry for the yank we sent out on loan in hindsight .
Whether it will all come together in time this season time will tell….but never thought i would say this i actually prefer the championship 2 games a week and they mostly all play at same time/day not like the prem tv has ruined it bring back the old saturdays 3pm and match of the day 😉
Keith B says
“feel sorry for the yank we sent out on loan”
If you mean Soto, he has yet to get a work permit to play here (I think he’ll need a full international cap, or something like that) hence the loan.
He’s doing well by all accounts so we might finish up selling him again at a nice profit without him ever setting foot in NR1….
Tim Sell says
I am just finding the canaries such a painful watch at the moment and agree that the main bonus is we have somehow managed to accumulate 14 points ! I know luck does tend to even itself out but if we are being honest we could easily be sitting here with 5 points ! Opposing managers are doing a fine job of bigging us up to be something special when quite frankly we are not and DF knows that. We certainly won’t be ripping teams apart as per suggested by the Wycombe manager. My biggest gripe is the incessant attempts to play out from the back, it may be the in thing at the moment but quite frankly we are pretty poor at it ! If we are lucky we manage to get up to the half way line before losing the ball and where does that get us ? I’m not dead against it but if we are to predominantly play in that way then we have to get much better at it ! I am tired of the emphasis being placed on how good we are at retaining possession and the constant side to side to back to side to back passing, it bores me to tears. Every time Brentford broke it was with pace and purpose and attacks were made instinctively, it seems as if we have to stop and think about it. Our brand of football is getting far too complicated. Just one final thing ( and I know it’s the same for all ), I believe we have too many players who are mentally weak and who would perform much better in front of fans, historically I believe our fan base both home and away to be essential to the Norwich cause. OTBC.
100% agree Tim 👍
Gary Field says
I’m somewhat surprised at the amount of negativity towards this performance. For sure, it wasn’t the complete performance, but some of the passing and movement in the first 20 minutes was, in my opinion, some of the best so far this season, This against a team who went so close last season and are tipped my many as one of the favourites for promotion this time.
It was also refreshing to see changes with 20 minutes to go, with a revised formation to match. Yes, Brentford looked capable on the counter, but there only really looked like one team going to score in the last fifteen minutes, us.
Maybe judgement is clouded by the fortuitous nature of the equaliser, but I certainly thought we deserved something from that game.
Gary Gowers says
Another fair comment Gaz – if we’d played the final 20 as we’d played the first 20 there’d have been a very different perception of the performance. A point well made.
Patrick Higgins says
A point gained.
It seems to me that a huge myth has grown up about 18-19 that City rampaged through the season, tearing teams apart with fabulous football every week…yes they did at Leeds, at Bolton and a couple of others maybe but there were numerous gutsy scrambled results back then too, just like last night.
Brentford away 18-19 was very similar in every way to last night. We scrambled 1 point at Bristol, WBA, Wigan, Stoke even Ipswich , in 18-19.
Gary Gowers says
Very good point that, Patrick. There were indeed plenty of ugly wins in 2018-19 I admit to being guilty of overlooking. Point taken.
Colin B says
I think this is a time to be “a glass half full”. Yes, we could have less points but equally we could have had a point against Bournemouth and 3 against Derby. We are where we are, with close to 2 points per game and close to the other two relegated sides.
We have the best goalkeeper in the league. He is already gaining us points. Hanley and Gibson are solid but not without the odd mistake. Aaron’s and Quintilla have been playing some decent football. It is midfield and up front where we need to improve our shot conversion rate. If we can do that we will be there or there abouts this season.
Despite set backs the team are keeping going and we are getting a lot of late goals. There does seem to be some resilience this season. The 9 games after Project Restart were all the more disappointing because when we inevitably went behind a lot of heads seemed to drop.
Given we are now 4 games undefeated then confidence should be high. Let’s hope they can grind out at least a point against Bristol City. Onwards and upwards.
Alex B says
A good summary of last nights game, very little mention for anyone on a very indifferent bit of Refereeing at times it looked like Brentford had an extra player on their side.
The sky reported must have been a friend of Natalie Sawyer as when Toney went of he was already proclaiming his goal as the match winner.
City are their own worst enemy in as much they loan out players without adicate cover, this square pegs in round holes is going to come back and bite us big time.
Why oh why does Buendia take free kicks last night he was terrible surely Vrancic being on the field is a better alternative I don’t think many of them got past the walk and one went to the feet of the wall.
Do we have players still mopping over moves that didn’t happen I would say yes and I would blame their agents for that, the club says no offers came in for either of them so now is the time to prove to possible interested clubs what they missed out on.
Injuries seem to be accumulating this early on in the season small niggles that if not cared for could become long term problems and with half the squad going off on international duty we just have to hope they all come back in good health.
With Zimmbo out injured Gibson is treading a thin yellow line for a ban so just maybe Sorensen might solve that dilemma for a short period, will be recruit another CB in January or recall Famewo only time will tell.
Onwards and upwards
Stay safe and stay healthy
I cant believe that the players are mentally weak when we have scored four late late goals it shows a strong mentality to keep goin .its a bit like some plonker on the radio last nite moaning about amount of goals we let in when we got promoted only lost six and record points what do people want 1 nils houghton style football
I too thought that (our) Sorensen did very well. Perhaps it worked in his favour thathe didn’t really have much time pre-match to think about it.
Was that one of the poorest halves seen from Cantwell?? Since the on/off transfer shenanigans he hasn’t looked a patch on the player we watched last season.
Oh, and given that their reported fees were around the same, I think Brentford will do better out of Toney than we ever will from Hugill…..but of course it’s early days and I hope he makes me eat my words!!
O T B C
David Bowers says
To the question posed in the title, does it matter? At this time, no! But I remember a Webber interview re: our promotion season and he said he wasn’t concerned early on because he thought our performances were better than our results. So I guess this is the reverse.
As everyone else stated Sorensen looked good, Rupp continues to impress. The middle of the park is solid. Central defense and attack need some work.
Unfortunately I had to step away at 70 mins, so I didn’t see the goal or improved last period.
Tim Ball says
I would have definitely taken a point before the game Gary.
So despite the ropey performance I am happy.
It really is a strange time due to the virus and to me that has affected the way I think of football.
I still want us to win every match obviously, but it is so hard to “get up” for match day as I used to. I actually feel sorry for whoever wins the Championship.
Even if it us. let us be really honest it will be nothing like the last winning Championship season, where our fans were absolutely fantastic and the bond between players, the management team and fans was just so memorable.
And playing in these deserted stadiums I wonder if for teams like us, provincial clubs, it is still having a big effect on our performances.
Would we have come back to grab a draw against Preston without The Glorious 1000 ? I doubt it.
The club are making big efforts to return to some level of support and it is a worthy effort but we now know we are a vaccine away from having any remotely “large” gatherings anywhere. I am sure the club can make Carrow Road safe but having 1000+’s travel, walk and mix together before and after the game is something that is often forgotten when this is discussed.
As hospitals are again getting snowed under, Nightingales are being opened everything must be done to help the NHS staff, not helped by an idiot who runs Heathrow Airport on Sky News today saying the government must open up routes back to highly affected countries purely on economic grounds.
I want fans back tomorrow, but only when the NHS can cope.
I am confident better performances are around the corner, with players bedding in.
One last thing Gary, I said on here at the time why ever was Sam McCallum allowed to go out on loan ? Now it looks Madness !!
martin penney says
The McCallum loan defies logic to me too also. Coventry already have two dedicated LBs as well as our Sam and [at least for a while] we might have none if Xavi has, heaven forbid, medium or long term concerns.
Plus Akin Famewo is apparently doing just great at Charlton and we have 1.5 fit CBs. No way is Grant Hanley performing at 100% from what I’ve seen.
Do we really need the money so much that we need to loan young Sam out to cover his wages? The mind boggles and mine is boggling on all six cylinders over this issue.
Hi Martin, we should all know by now that penny pinching will always take precedence over the team while the smiths hold sway.
Tim Ball says
I really cannot see the club’s logic in all of this Martin.
We have left ourselves so short at left back and I agree with your comments regarding the centre halves. If we do lose Ben or Grant with Zimbo out we really are back to last season’s disaster regarding the C/Halves.
Even when Timm Klose left we still had a week to sort out a replacement or as you suggest a rethink on Akin. Or even another loan deal in for that matter.
I do wonder if you are correct when you say this may all be due to finances ? Covid situation perhaps ?
martin penney says
I can’t genuinely explain the McCallum loan but we loaned him back to Cov for the whole remainder of last season. And subsequently giving him experience in the same league as us with no guarantee of a starting berth? It makes no sense to me – particularly if Quintilla had proved to be a dud, which he didn’t of course. But he’s injured……………
Very much doubt Covid is involved in this strange situation.