I’ve been running over and over the Manchester United defeat in my head for the last couple of days. This is exactly the type of game that Norwich City want to be in the Premier League to play but as we’ve seen so often in the recent past, the reality of actually playing these games can be very different to how you think they might turn out in your own head.
I’m sure that if I’ve been thinking about this game a lot, then Daniel Farke will have definitely been doing the same. There are lots of worrying aspects in our game play, currently.
I read some quotes from Alex Tettey on Monday and thought that if you haven’t seen them, then you really ought to. They are in an interview with a Norwegian paper and give Alex’s honest thoughts, firstly about the game’s first penalty awarded to United after Dan James came together with Ben Godfrey, as reported here by VG.
“It was a bit strange,” Tettey told VG. “The referee tells me there was no penalty. I told him there was no punishment. James told [Tim Krul] that there was no penalty.
“However, then we get someone who sits somewhere and says they are penalties. I don’t think so.
“I was really p****** off throughout the game. First and foremost, we do some things that are really weird and then you have this VAR stuff that makes you have to wait.
“You play the game, you have adrenaline from before, you don’t need more things to create excitement.
“What is it about? Just decide it so the game can move on. How can they determine that they are penalties? If the referee sees it clearly, can’t he decide? Who knows?”
— Phil Shaul (@shaulmeister) October 27, 2019
Tim Krul saved two penalties but this stop off Martial's point blank header was incredible… pic.twitter.com/CCkPDiAVQT
— Shamoon Hafez (@ShamoonHafez) October 27, 2019
The thing that really made me sit up and take notice though, was Alex’s comments about his side making junior football mistakes.
“I was shocked. I don’t know how we can be so naive and give away so much space. That should not happen,” he said.
“We have a right-back who is in no man’s land, we have one centre-back that is higher than the other, and he does not know where the attacker is.
“I should not be too strict, but I think we make ‘junior football mistakes’.”
The Canaries’ biggest problem this season has been the large number of goals that they are conceding. Obviously the loss of three of our four centre-backs through injury hasn’t helped the situation but the Rashford goal that Alex is talking about above was as good an example of poor defending as you’ll ever see.
That is exactly the sort of defending that happens in Sunday league, players being out of position leaves space for the opposition and we’re not playing Bolton (no offence, lads) anymore. These are top international level opponents who will hurt you when given an opportunity.
On Sunday, of the players on both sides, United players top the list of most passes in the attacking third. In fact that list sees United players take the first six positions. By contrast, Ibrahim Amadou and Alex Tettey are the top two players in the list of clearances and headed clearances.
Norwich looked too slow in both their thoughts and movement when compared to the visitors and the way that they stretched the play with quick, slick passing. I thought City might be able to get at this United side, who have been poor in the early weeks of the season but the reality was very different.
Teemu Pukki is being increasingly isolated by our opponents and barely had a sniff against McQuire and Lindelöf, who made defending against us look easy. When he did get a chance, his first time scooped effort went over the bar.
We were physically outmuscled and Cantwell and Leitner both looked lightweight. I liked the way that Farke brought on two subs at half-time but of those, only Hernandez made a real difference. Hernandez and Krul were our best two players by some distance, although Tettey again played well in that defensive role. Marco Stiepermann had a shot at redemption but didn’t take it and Emi Buendia cuts an ever more frustrated figure.
Where do Norwich City go from here though?
How do we suddenly tighten up our leaky defence and score the goals we need? Only Farke can solve that particular conundrum and he needs to do something quickly because upcoming games at Brighton and then at home to Watford are opportunities that his Canary side can not afford to come away from empty handed. Certainly the Watford game looks like a must win game.
Am I worried? Yes, I am.
The situation at number ten is now becoming a problem as Stiepermann has looked a little out of his depth and Leitner was completely ineffective there against United. I prefer Mo in a deeper lying role alongside either Tettey or Trybull, where he can affect the game much more and use that undoubted passing ability of his.
Onel Hernandez looks to be the one bright spark in all of this and as he regains his fitness, he is going to be a big player for us. He makes things happen through his sheer pace and directness and if fully fit, he needs to be starting games. Maybe Cantwell should be tried in the number 10 position that he coverts and Onel should play on the left?
I’m sure these thoughts are nothing new for Farke and he will have a firm idea of how he wants to go forward from here.
Fingers crossed I’d say, because City are approaching a crossroads where pretty soon, a doom and gloom relegation battle might be the only thing on offer in 2019/20.