Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-0 loss at Bournemouth
Our chief Norwich City reporter David Freezer has delivered his verdict following the Canaries’ 1-0 Championship loss at Bournemouth.
1 - Farke serves up a Sunday roast
It was clear from earlier in the day that this way going to be an eventful Sunday, after reports emerged that Leeds were trying to sign Todd Cantwell and that the midfielder hadn’t travelled with City to the south coast.
Once it became clear that Emi Buendia was also not in Dorset - fresh from the loss of another playmaker to injury in Kieran Dowell - it was apparent that whatever happened on the pitch at Bournemouth was going to be followed by some off-field drama.
For Farke to be quite so brutally frank about Cantwell and Buendia dropping below the standards he expects of City players and so feisty about the impact of the transfer window still being open, shocked some Canaries fans.
The head coach has very firmly planted the ball in the courts of both players now.
While acknowledging how much he rates both and that he wants to keep them, Farke also bemoaned the impact of the transfer pressure on his players, while pointing to how level-headed Max Aarons has remained.
The fork has been placed in the road. Either get your big move and City will bank the money, or draw a line under things, make it clear you’re committed and resume the building of promising top-level careers.
Such pointed barbs will not have been made lightly by Farke, he knows that his harsh words will create shockwaves inside and outside of his squad.
Yet the sooner a resolution is made, the better, as this transfer fallout is starting to leave a particularly sour taste.
The European window closes at 11pm on Monday October 5 but remains open domestically until 5pm on Friday, October 16.
2 - Frustrating but encouraging display
There are few teams in the Championship who would have emerged with a win when faced with this City performance.
Away from the off-field fuss, Farke was pleased with the fluency and improvement in passing his team displayed, while admitting they lacked a cutting edge.
Bournemouth’s 5-4-1 formation did the job however and managed to keep the Canaries’ at arm’s length, largely restricting them to shots from range and with Asmir Begovic dealing with what Onel Hernandez, Lukas Rupp and Xavi Quintilla could fire at him.
Preston’s energetic press had disrupted City during the 2-2 home draw the previous week and that emphasised the need for sharper passing and movement.
Compare this defeat with the 1-0 at Huddersfield during the opening weekend and it’s clear that response was delivered.
Almost double the amount of attempted passes, 616 to 363 at Huddersfield. The share of possession was 64pc, compared to 52pc in Yorkshire, and the pass accuracy was up from 76pc to 87pc.
It may have been a defeat - to a very decent goal - but the performance was much closer to that of the 2018-19 style.
3 - Midfield mix improved
With no Dowell, Cantwell or Buendia the selection in midfield wasn’t too taxing for Farke but the tweak in shape to a 4-1-4-1 largely worked.
Kenny McLean and Lukas Rupp brought the energy and allowed City much more midfield control than they had against Preston, with Skipp really growing into his role as the deep-lying pivot as the game progressed.
Rupp and Onel Hernandez in particular linked well but Bournemouth’s packed defence managed to fill most of the gaps and keep Teemu Pukki relatively isolated.
With McLean also able to add his aerial presence further forward, this felt like a step in the right direction for the midfield unit.
4 - Work in progress
This squad is clearly very much a work in progress though, not helped by the unusual transfer window during these unprecedented times.
To concede five shots on target and for Tim Krul to be so busy shows that City’s defensive confidence needs plenty of attention.
Krul made good saves to deny Dominic Solanke, Jack Stacey and Josh King, but was well beaten by a fine strike from Arnaut Danjuma after Christoph Zimmermann had been left for dust by a neat back-heel.
Danjuma and Solanke were also able to pull the trigger, while Solanke headed wide wastefully and Danjuma skewed a poor effort wide after a lovely touch from striker Solanke had bamboozled Zimmermann as the ball span over his head.
With Farke’s defenders so comfortable in possession and with plenty of centre-back options currently, City could well find that a 5-4-1 formation of their own could be helpful in grinding out points while they recover confidence.
5 - Setting the tone
Plenty of City fans have been saying since the season kicked off that full judgement needs to be reserved until the transfer window closes - that’s when Farke will truly be able to size up the task at hand.
There is one more game to go before October 16 though, at home to a nose-diving Derby on Saturday, who have lost all three of their games, conceding eight and scoring just once.
If the Canaries can get a first home win of the season against the Rams then heading into the second international break with seven points from four games would be a more then healthy position to build from.
Lose however and the pressure will be well and truly on, leaving the mood of the City faithful in a precarious position heading into a fortnight of potential transfer torture - ahead of a trip to Paul Warne’s physical and spirited Rotherham after the break.
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