I just wanted to put down in words a few thoughts about our back five from the weekend.
It`s not meant to be harsh criticism and in reality there`s only one of the five that might come in for that in any case, and it`s not just based on the Sheffield United game either.
First off, I think the recent formation that Daniel Farke has used has done very well for us. Three central defenders helped Antonio Conte win the Premier League and it worked a treat for us when Farke matched like for like with Conte`s Chelsea.
Against Sheffield United, the defence was constantly under pressure and that wasn`t their fault, far from it.
Harrison Reed and especially Alex Tettey were not at their best, especially in the first half and Tettey had his worst game of the season so far.
That meant that the protection so crucial for the defence wasn`t there as much as it should`ve been. Dare I say that Mario Vrancic`s passing was also missed alongside one of the two destructive players that started.
Mario has come in for plenty of stick at times this season but I do think that his best position in this formation is in a deeper role. His range of passing was excellent when he did come on with 30 minutes to go and from what I understand, he wasn`t dropped but was suffering with his feet after the Chelsea game.
Anyway, back to the defence.
The best of the back five was Timm Klose. He played like a man possessed at times. He always wanted the ball and came as close to scoring as anyone with that effort at the end of the first half.
You can`t ask anymore than what Timm gave on Saturday.
Incidentally, a chap that I follow on Twitter (don`t know personally) tweeted after the game that at about 5pm, he was waiting to get out of the Carrow Road car park when he saw Timm kick a road sign in an apparent temper as he was leaving the stadium.
Remember this is only 10 minutes after the game has finished, most unusual. He posted an apology on his Instagram account later that evening for the fans that were waiting for autographs. He said he was simply frustrated at the way the game had planned out.
After Borussia Dortmund signed Manuel Akanji from Basel last week, I`m hoping that the Swiss Champions don`t come calling for Timm to replace him, something that has been the subject of speculation this month.
Moving on, Grant Hanley has been a good buy. Apart from a badly misplaced pass in the second half, I can`t remember him doing much wrong. The same goes for Christoph Zimmermann, who would be a shoe-in for the “Most improved player” award if this were Sunday league.
Jamal Lewis was solid enough, apart from the error that led to the first goal being conceded. He tried to do too much and ended up conceding the corner. He had a chance to clear and put it in Row Z – I fancy next time he`ll do that.
If any criticism can be levelled at the young man at all, it would be when going forwards and the exact same thing is true of Ivo Pinto, but in Ivo`s case, it`s worse.
Lewis is still learning his trade, he only made his first team debut in December and is already the first choice left back at just 19. His pace, energy and tackling/defending ability are already excellent and you know he`s only going to get better.
He does put the ball in the box when he gets a chance but he is also prone to passing inside to James Maddison instead. This is something that Ivo Pinto is massively guilty of, week in and week out.
The 3-4-3 formation being used, and I know that it can switch to other variations during the game, relies on the wing backs getting forward and back when required.
Part of their role is adding width and that means putting crosses into the box, something Pinto is seemingly loathed to do. Maybe he doesn`t trust himself or maybe he`s looking and seeing no-one there, other than a static Nelson Oliveira but the fact remains, his end product is not currently good enough.
If you watched Southampton v Spurs yesterday afternoon, then you will have seen Ryan Bertrand race to the byline and then send a low cross into the box that was sliced into his own net by Davinson Sanchez for the opener.
My point being that by crossing the ball, a goal was scored and not even by a Saints player. If in doubt, “get it in the mixer” is what I say.
Far too often, Ivo looks worried or nervous to cross and he will often look inside to Maddison, Wes or anyone else he can pass to, instead of crossing.
If you look at our stats for successful crosses after almost every game, the completion rate is nearly always poor. On Saturday Norwich completed 5/25 crosses successfully – just 20%. For comparison, Sheffield United managed 4/17 (23.5%).
So my plea here is for the full backs, and especially Ivo Pinto, to get the ball in the box more. Crosses create chances and put defenders on the back foot. Josh Murphy is the only recognised wide player at the moment, as Marley Watkins is currently sitting on his hands not even on the bench, and Josh is often maddeningly inconsistent.
Sort it out.