It’s that age-old feeling that we, as football fans, know only too well.
You’ve watched your team play well, no, dominate, is the right term, against an opponent but still lose despite making numerous excellent chances.
In this case, we’re talking about falling short against Premier League Bournemouth in their own backyard. The score ended up being 2-1 but if it had been 2-5, then I don’t think anyone of a red and black persuasion could complain too much.
Both sides made changes and it’s fair to say that there were plenty of “squad” players in both lineups. That’s what squads and the Carabao Cup are for though. To give the lads that aren’t in the first team a chance to play some football and hopefully make a claim for the first team in the league.
There were a few things in this defeat that I noted, which I think are worthy of our attention. The first, is that this supposedly “second string” Canary side were barely indistinguishable from the “first team” in how they played the match. The ethos of how to play the game was exactly the same, as you’d expect.
The idea is that if any player is unavailable through injury or suspension then his replacement can come in seamlessly. Obviously, that hasn’t always been the case in previous seasons but no-one can argue that Daniel Farke’s footballing philosophy isn’t filtering through the squad and the club in general. That the youngsters play this way is important too, so that when they make the first team squad, there’s no difference in what they are asked to do.
What we saw against Bournemouth was that Norwich were the protagonists with the ball. A phrase that Farke first mentioned on his appointment last year. They took the game to the Cherries and Eddie Howe knew only too well just how lucky his side had been.
“A really improving team who on that evidence will take some stopping in the Championship,” Howe said. “I thought they performed really well, we rode our luck and we got lucky. We’ll certainly take it. Why was that the case? I need to gather the thoughts of the players. Maybe a couple of the players who came in have not had enough games. We lacked a sharpness and a fluency that is usually in our game” he told the EDP afterwards.
So why did Norwich lose this game?
Basically, it comes down to not taking their chances. In the absence of Teemu Pukki, Norwich have continued to win games, albeit only one of those wins has been through goals scored by a striker when Jordan Rhodes’ brace did for Aston Villa.
Rhodes was rested for this game, despite being ineligible for Saturday’s trip to his parent club, Sheffield Wednesday and the chance was handed to Dennis Srbeny, to show what he could do.
To be fair to Dennis, he played quite well, as did the whole team, and it’s just his finishing that let him down. Two excellent chances in the first half (one of which struck a post) and another big one at the end were spurned and that sort of sums up the German’s luck since joining City.
His work rate is good but he’s yet to discover if he has that elusive scoring touch at this level which sorts the average player from the superstars. He’s 24 now, so unless it happens soon, it may not happen at all. Maybe a loan spell in January would benefit him?
Jordan Rhodes finally came on and spurned a glorious chance for an equaliser with a header at close range. It was a sitter, a howler, dress it up how you like, it wasn’t good. Following on the back of that very poor penalty miss against Brentford, we have a player that is still to really prove his mettle in yellow and green.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s been okay, decent really, but Teemu Pukki is the first choice for a reason. I doubt that if presented with those chances spurned by Srbeny and Rhodes that he would’ve failed to convert.
It’s good that we have a player like Teemu to come back in but in January I’d hope that the boat would be pushed out to try to get some more firepower in. The winter window is not known as being easy to get business done but should anything happen to Pukki, then I think Rhodes will need some help.
I mentioned that these cup games are useful to give squad players a chance to impress and one player did just that.
Mario Vrancic has been unlucky to start the season injured and then he’s been a victim of the form of Cantwell, Stiepermann and Leitner. With Todd and Marco likely to miss the weekend trip to Sheffield, here’s the chance that Super Mario will have been waiting for.
Against Bournemouth, he was everywhere, creating chances, putting crosses in and shooting at goal. This performance was arguably good enough to put him in the first team even if there weren’t injury worries for others.
Two goals from the bench against Reading and Wigan showed that he’s still in the form that he finished last season in and along with Tom Trybull, he’s been unlucky. Could that be about to change? I imagine that Daniel Farke will be pondering these decisions for the remainder of the week.
Yes, we lost the game and a quarter final would’ve been great but if a man like Eddie Howe, who knows exactly what the Championship is like, thinks that we will take some stopping, then I’m happy.