Another match, another loss for City as they were unceremoniously dumped from the Carabao Cup last night, but after the repetition of a familiar result, at least the script felt slightly altered.
After weeks of the same old naivety, defensive errors and lack of creativity, it was courteous of the Canaries to throw in some penalty drama, a new system that worked until its players didn’t, and the return of the familiar set-piece Achilles heel. The Watford-shaped wound remains open, however, and doesn’t look like healing until three points are on the board.
For 38 minutes, City performed well.
With Billy Gilmour at the heart of proceedings and finally allowed the space and attention he requires, Daniel Farke’s side put together a series of strong passing combinations and looked a threat.
The German’s new 3-5-2 looked dangerous in the Liverpool half despite the lack of exciting attackers in his lineup, and Dimitris Giannoulis gave the impression of a man desperate to earn back his spot after losing it to Brandon Williams in recent weeks.
Christos Tzolis’ excellent movement created a pathway for the likes of Gilmour and Giannoulis to get the ball forward effectively and had his end product been more finely tuned, Norwich could’ve returned to the dressing room in the lead.
Giannoulis was set free by his new wing-back role, and credit must go to Ben Gibson for his unseen role providing a solid base for the Greek to play from down the left, even if the ex-Middlesbrough man was guilty of lapses in concentration at key moments.
In 38 minutes of focused performance, City showed green shoots of promise and had they kept that level up for 90 optimism may just have crept, in small doses admittedly, back into Carrow Road.
However, the two incidents that defined the match, and predictably highlighted City’s issues this season, bookended this period of promise.
In the fourth minute, Minamino inexplicably found himself in space following a Liverpool corner, finishing inside the six-yard box after some woeful defending. In the 42nd Tzolis seized the ball from designated penalty taker Adam Idah and promptly found the legs of Reds’ goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher.
That both incidents epitomised their start to the season is the most worrying sign for this City team, and the collective sentiments of ‘here we go again’ felt around Carrow Road and in living rooms around the Canary Nation were palpable.
City are dangerously slipping into a rabbit hole they are not keen to explore, and a repeat of the miserable Project Restart series could look even uglier given fans are now back in the stands in NR1 and free to voice their displeasure in grim reality.
Ex-Canary Peter Crouch was surely referring to this exact feeling of déjà vu in his Daily Mail column, where he said: “The relegation we suffered at Southampton in 2005 will always stick with me. The lack of confidence in the dressing room, the acceptance of defeats.
“We won only one of our first 12 games that year and it can overwhelm the group. It certainly did with us. We expected to get beaten. When that dressing room is silent, that is when you know you are bang in trouble.”
Twinned with this uneasy feeling of history repeating itself was a fresh new form of despair to this City regime: a spat over who takes a penalty before the selected taker’s underwhelming miss.
Farke outlined exactly what the situation was and quite how irritated he was with it post-match. “Christos [Tzolis] was not the first [penalty taker] on the teamsheet,” he said. “If you do this (take the penalty despite not being the chosen taker) you have to make sure you score otherwise you are in trouble.
“He was unbelievably emotional and excited but that’s what happens with young players, they take the wrong decisions. I was a bit annoyed that none of my older players was aware that he shouldn’t take the penalties.
“I love this guy and he will be an important player for us in the future and in general he had a really good performance. But believe me, after I have spoken to him, he will never do this mistake ever again in his life.”
As if there weren’t enough issues for Farke to deal with.
The former Borussia Dortmund II head coach insisted that “the topic is done,” but will surely be frustrated that the man who looked at times the solution to the Canaries’ attacking problems has complicated his selection situation ahead of their crucial run of games.
New issues may have reared their head, and the script – while almost as miserable as before – felt slightly altered as Norwich were beaten once again, but the solution to Farke’s problem is clearer than ever before: a win by any means necessary.
Different personnel, but same problems. We may have performed well for periods, but toothless Let’s not forget this was Liverpool,s second string containing many youngsters , 16 year old and two 18 year old making their debuts..
I thought we looked really poor,no one playing for the shirt,well maybe one or two.Proves we dont have strength in depth and most of the new signings are not an improvement on what we already had.Webber ( where is he?) would have been better to have brought in 3x £20 million players than what he has done,he stated to judge him on the end of the window,well I have and it’s no better than the start of it!
Looking on the bright side we are going to smash Derby’s record!
Under the self funding model we were supposed to improve incrementally each year.
Can somebody please try and explain to Delia this is not happening because she has once again failed to supply the necessary investment.
Hmmm 🤔 well until we can defend a cross into the box I can’t see us winning it was exactly the same last time you would think farke would learn . Is it because he was a striker and he cannot teach this or he doesn’t know or because we don’t man mark ffs someone at the club help him out .
Bernard Owen says
Compounded I felt by Farkes comments to BBC Norfolk when he basically said it’s sorted ,but it he happens again he won’t be on the field in one of my team’s.
Dan Rear says
First time I’ve watched us this season, even the MOTD highlights I’ve avoided. I was very disappointed. Mumba awful I thought, Idah pretty much non-existent, Rupp and Gilmour did very little of real effect, PLM looked completely out of his depth, Tszolis, too. Only Giannoulis did OK I thought. And as for the back 3, 4 if we include Gunn, trying to play out from the back, it was dreadful. Truly scary
Good post Sam, as you say apart from the defending for the first goal there were green shoots. Sadly this game was defined by a lack of professionalism from Tzolis and for my mind weak captaincy from Hanley who should have intervened and sorted the situation. I’ve no doubt there were words at half time and this may well explain our poor start to the second half and the fact that the game effectively ended on 50 mins when Origi scored..
I watched a few years ago as Snodgrass grabbed the ball from RVW in front of the Barclay end, missed the penalty against Villa and pretty much single handedly ruined our season, I hope and pray this doesn’t go the same way but at least this time Daniel has shown the courage that Hughton lacked by telling it how it is and not fudging the issue.
Colin M says
I’m struggling to share your greenish shoots of optimism Sam.
Having watched on TV last evening and replayed some of it, I thought our performance against a Liverpool 2nd x1 was simply awful. By the end I thought Giannoulis and Gilmour were the worst of a very poor bunch, (Billy wont get near the current Chelsea team), Liverpool were simply better all over the pitch. I genuinely felt sorry for our paying fans, my daughter among them confirmed my thoughts in a late night text or three.
We go to Everton and Burnley next, I wish the lads good luck, perhaps being away from home will reduce the pressure of a home crowd but I wont hold my breath.
No Emi no threat, no Olly no barrier.
I’m not overly concerned as for me it’s City ’till I die, I love Championship football and a 3rd title in 6 seasons beckons in 2023 although on current form I’m not so sure.
Time for one or two to step-up and inspire, let’s go down fighting at least.
Alex B says
We have to stop focusing on the players that have left.
Skipp hasn’t shown the Spurs supporters that he is there defensive answer.
Emi still finding his feet at Villa but will he succeed not being the star man, at city he was the creator so far at Villa he has a lot more competition to over come.
Colin M says
It’s the impact they made within our system that is relevant, I suspect Skipp will flourish but Emi could go the same way as many of our exports.
I agree we have to move forward and it will take time. We seem so far off the pace which is the real concern. We know Rupp is not a DM yet DF seems to think so and agree with you re zonal marking.
Alex B says
Zonal marking doesn’t work Origi out jumped Hanley, Gibson and Andrew O by about 5inches and Gunn was static at every corner I think it was after the game was lost he started to collect balls in the air.
Gunny is 6ft 5inches tall he should be good and brave enough and to take command of his area, trying to stop a ball in mid flight is a must for all keepers it also distracts the opposition strikers and give them something else to worry about.
Both Gunny and Krul are poor at coming for high balls and either punching it clear or catching it so alot is put on the CB’s with an already heavy work load.
Did DF learn anything from last night hopefully that Rupp is a poor DM and resting vital players that need game time to gel as a team was not a good idea, the team selected looked good but need some midfield steel either Normann or Sorensen could have supplied that.
Lees-Melou and Sorensen both tall would have added a more solid wall and still allowed Gilmour to try and impress.
No bite in midfield sorry but Rupp is a not Vrancic or Trybull both were better options and long gone.
A truly abysmal performance, the game was effectively over after three minutes.
Three centre halves and not one of them can head a ball clear. Pathetic. The last goal was a disgrace.
Farke is being lined up as the fall guy, there always is one, it’s been the same for over 20 years. He’s not infallible but people have to look further up the chain of command for the real culprits here.
What manager of note would work under the absurd restrictions and daft set up we impose at this club? Sacking farke would be a mistake.
It is the ownership where the real problems lay, this self-funding game will never work in the prem, by the time we have progressed 2 steps the rest have by 6. A catch-up game we cannot achieve.. But it still does not alter the fact that Farke has not learned lessons from the first foray into the world of the premiership.
David Bowers says
The Tzolis issue has been handled very poorly. He was one of the few players showing real determination and skills. He got a bit carried away.
Farke should have said he liked the desire, he was on form, but he’d have a word to remind him he doesn’t take penalties. Chastising a new player helps no one, certainly when some individuals at the back have deserved it for weeks.
Cyprus canary says
We were poor and disjointed but what do you expect when you make NINE changes. Of course it would be good to have a very rich owner but the performance on the pitch is the manager’s responsibility. We have sufficient skill within this group but lack a manager with the nouse to get the best out of them.
Tim Ball says
I think it is fair to say Daniel Farke is heading into his biggest crisis since Millwall (a) a few years ago.
Norwich Reserves V Liverpool Reserves was always likely to be an away win, but if you miss chances and make huge defensive mistakes like we did last night then you are on a hiding to nothing.
We now have that great font of football knowledge Jason Cundy asking are Norwich the worst team in the country ? Has he seen Ipswich this season ? Yee gods we are slipping into a parallel universe.
So much of the criticism aimed at us is fair but some of it is verging on the ridiculous. Cundy’s co-star in this rematch of Dumb and Dumber is Jamie O’Hara who sights Brentford as an example of EPL success …. after only 5 games !!! Sheffield United anyone ?
Grant Hanley is coming in for a lot of stick, and he has not been great I agree but he has been playing with a new defensive partner nearly every match. Grant’s form pre-lockdown was brilliant Proving he can perform at EPL level.
That 1-0 win over Leicester was Grant Hanley showing what he can do. Lets not forget he was runner up to Emi in Player of the year last season.
I feel a big problem is letting all these crosses coming into the box, also compare the quality of our crosses with our opponents including Watford.
Let’s be honest the penalty miss, PLM’s sitter, Idah’s back pass to Kelleher, Idah and Pukki shooting instead of giving each other tap ins, were awful decisions by the guys.
And defensively it was collective failings. Not stopping crosses and awful marking led to all Liverpool’s goals.
The missed chances are as relevant as the defensive blunders.
I repeat myself, was the pursuit of Ajer stopped too early ? Did these players all come in too late ?
My other worry was, would the tough start effect the confidence of the squad ? Big time is the answer.
Getting rid of Farke would be a mistake, weirdly some of these players show promise and he should be given time to turn this around.
I do worry that Derby’s total of 11 points is in danger of being beaten and 15 consecutive losses and no comebacks to win from going 1-0 down in 29 games is absolutely awful.
So the clock is ticking I’m afraid.
Until we improve our capacity as a team to defend properly it is almost irrelevant to even think about where a goal is going to come from. The expectation is that we will concede at least one goal (even in our Championship seasons this was often the case) and usually more. At Premiership level this is a recipe for at best one point and often zero.
Our purchases amounted to around £50 million (admittedly using £33 million from Buendia sale) which is fair enough. Our priority should have been defensive replacements both for Skipp and other areas of concern (ie CB LB). However, we left those particular purchases to the very end of the transfer window; rather like putting a roof on a house without first ensuring the foundations are secure.
We have brought in a whole host of new players (who may or not be of the quality required) but who combined with others already at the Club could play in midfield come wide positions – Tzolis, Lees-Melou, Rashica, Gilmour, Cantwell, Dowell, Plachetta and depending on what formation we play you could then add Giannoulis (not a left back btw), McLean, Rupp, Sorenson, Normann. Assuming we play 4/5 at the back and 1/2 up front that means TWELVE players competing for between 4-6 positions.
It would be interesting to ask supporters ‘pick your best XI’; I believe you’d be fortunate to get many teams that are identical either in selection or formation. Perhaps, with hindsight, less (signings) would have been more.
I think the comment about Hanley being second in the Player of the Season award sums it all up – meanwhile the winner and third place player are no longer with us.