Daniel Farke made some bold selections in his team for the first derby game of the season at Portman Road on Sunday.
Prior to the game, I’d written an article about a team that I thought could beat Ipswich, which you can read here.
In that piece, I wrote as if I was the City Head Coach and provided a team sheet accordingly. Max Aarons and Emi Buendia were in my team and they were, to my pleasant surprise, in Herr Farke’s team too.
Ivo Pinto wasn’t in the squad and neither was Ben Marshall as Farke opted to give Max his league debut in the white-hot derby day atmosphere and I think it’s fair to say that he didn’t let anyone down.
Emi Buendia’s selection was, along with those of Hernandez, Pukki and Rhodes, designed to be proactive in trying to win the game. I was a little worried when I saw that Farke had picked Leitner over Trybull because I would’ve chosen Super Tom over Mo for a bit more bite in the centre.
However, there was a method in this madness with Leitner starting the game deeper and sending several quick, long balls forward for Buendia, Pukki and Hernandez to chase. The idea was obviously to try to get in behind the Ipswich back line with pace.
Clearly, though, the first half didn’t provide much in the way of chances for either side. Ipswich were physical and looked for Edwards more often than not. The fact he was up against Jamal Lewis didn’t make it easy for Paul Hurst’s summer signing from Peterborough though.
Having had to substitute Timm Klose at halftime with concussion, Farke again opted for youth and went for Ben Godfrey over Christoph Zimmermann. The defence for the second half then had three members who had never played at Portman Road before and on paper they were severely lacking experience, all held together by Grant Hanley, who ended the game with a cut to his face, having stood firm against an early surge from Ipswich at the start of the second half.
Having conceded a goal via an unlucky deflection, City rallied and pushed on. Leitner was now given the range to move further upfield and that’s where his chance to score that lovely equaliser came from. The formation was flexible and the selection of Aarons, Buendia and then Godfrey was bold.
Alex Tettey also had two good efforts on goal in the second half as the game opened up, although the “flexible system” was unable, again, to provide a single clear cut opening for Jordan Rhodes. Having said that, Rhodes, who took stick all game from the home fans, held the ball up and provided the assist with a cut back for Leitner’s delicious equaliser. Make no mistake though, this was two poor teams playing out a dull 1-1 draw but, the final result did extend Norwich’s unbeaten run over Ipswich to nine and a half years, so it wasn’t all bad news.
I like that Farke is more than prepared to play young players and let’s be honest, our future as a football club is going to depend on that. On Radio Norfolk, Bryan Gunn was saying that if Norwich aren’t promoted this season, then we will lose Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons and Grant Hanley. I hate to say it but that is how we will survive financially in the years to come. We will look to produce good young players and then sell them on for millions of pounds to balance the books.
Getting back to the hear and now though, the game itself was a bit of a damp squib. The first half was a complete non-event and the Stadium was more often than not pretty quiet. The TV audio picked up the City faithful singing loud and proud but not much from the home crowd who just about managed 25,000 in number with plenty of empty seats on show.
It staggers me that they can’t sell out their ground for the visit of their fierce local rivals, in fact, it’s little short of embarrassing.
Anyway, this draw lifts them into 23rd place and takes City into 17th in the fledgeling table. We are currently 6 points off sixth place and 9 points off second placed Middlesbrough, who coincidentally are up next at home on the 15th September.
In between we have the international break and I can’t help think that if Timm Klose does have concussion then he’ll be ruled out of the Swiss squad that he’d only just got back into. If he didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any at all.