Not having won in seven games is a nasty place to be for any team and when it`s your own team in that position, it`s doubly worse.
We head into this afternoons`s match with Preston North End knowing that there is much at stake, other than the three points. The Canaries are navigating some choppy seas at the moment and all they need is their ex-Boss Alex Neil turning up with an axe to grind.
I know he`s said in interviews this week that he has no problem with the club and that he`s grateful for the opportunity afforded him by David McNally, Delia et al BUT he is still going to want to put one over on them, it`s only human nature.
The news out of Colney on Friday in terms of injuries isn`t good, particularly in midfield.
Yes, Timm Klose and James Husband are injures in defence but Marco Stiepermann and Christoph Zimmermann are able deputies. I actually don`t feel too concerned at all about Timm`s absence because Zimmermann is reliable (usually) and is humble with it.
It`s the centre of the park that worries me, the engine room. Tom Trybull and Alex Tettey are out again and Harrison Reed is a doubt after a knock to the foot. Daniel Farke described him as a “tough guy” and is optimistic he`ll make it. That makes me think he will.
Marley Watkins is struggling as well, so there will definitely be changes – something Farke is not adverse to. Norwich City have made mores changes to their starting XI than any other Championship side this season.
So here`s a team I think could beat Preston today in a 4-2-3-1 formation:
Gunn – picks himself.
Pinto – The Captain and a very important player.
Hanley – Has looked solid and with a turn of pace. Rarely beaten in the air.
Zimmermann – In Klose`s absence, another easy pick.
Stiepermann – Reliable and solid in the full back role, despite being a midfielder.
Reed – assuming he`s fit, he starts.
Maddison – drops to a deeper lying role. Reed can break up play and Madders can do the passing.
Wildschut – This side is all about chance creation and pace kills, so Yanic starts.
Hoolahan – Will be asked to play twice in four days but in his favoured position.
Murphy – Pace and crosses mean goals.
Oliveira – Another easy pick. Against Barnsley, he tried tricks and turns, letting it run through his legs etc in an effort to create chances. Technically a much better player than Jerome with the ball and he`s a finisher.
I`m well aware that Alex Pritchard is fit enough to play football again but his stamina will be lacking. I wouldn`t start him. He could come off the bench if needed as I wouldn`t expect Wes to play more than an hour. If the game is going okay and we`re winning, then I might be tempted to move Maddison forward and leave Pritchard with a watching brief. It really does depend on how fit he is and the game situation at the time.
On the bench I would bring Adam Phillips into the squad. He could play alongside Reed in that “quarterback” role as well.
Having said all that, Mario Vrancic is likely to start in Farke`s XI alongside Reed. I didn`t go to Forest but it seems that he performed better in that deeper role than he has of late and put himself about a bit.
Let`s be honest though, he couldn`t put himself about any less, could he?
I want to see my team`s players giving their all, not jogging back like last week, when the ball was lost to the Barnsley midfield.
Almost every team that has come to Carrow Road this season has done their homework. They deny us the ball from goal kicks and press us in. We`re supposed to be the home side forcing the game, not the opposition.
The ball needs to be passed quicker and that`s why I have two wingers to try to speed things up. This style of football is not flawed if played quickly but at the moment, that is the biggest problem we have.