Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Barnsley
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Barnsley verdict after Norwich City's 1-0 FA Cup fourth round defeat.
Out of the FA Cup and Jordan Hugill suffering a suspected hamstring injury. By no stretch was this Norwich’s best day at the office this season. One can only hope the former is the lasting legacy of a forgettable fourth round outing.
Hugill trudged down the tunnel after pulling up just past the hour mark.
With Teemu Pukki currently out with a side strain and Adam Idah only poised to re-join team training this coming week, after his lengthy lay-off, City at this moment in time have no fit senior strikers for the resumption of their Championship promotion push against Middlesbrough.
Barnsley showed more appetite, more energy and more intent.
Daniel Farke got minutes into players who needed them. But the rust was evident in the manner of Barnsley’s winner. An entirely avoidable concession.
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Przemyslaw Placheta smacked a shot against the underside of the bar, but this was a long way from Norwich’s composed Championship template. Deliver that objective come May and few, if any, will care what happened at Barnsley on a bitterly cold January day.
2. Norwich has got talent
This felt like something of an audition for the Canaries’ attacking midfield three, when the team news confirmed Kieran Dowell, Placheta and Onel Hernandez had got the nod.
That trio have endured injury-disrupted seasons to this point. But with Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell cutting a dash through Championship rivals, there was plenty at stake for those on the fringes of this gathering promotion push.
Should Cantwell recover from the hamstring problem that saw him sit out this cup tie for Middlesbrough’s pending league visit it would be very hard to see Farke not reverting to type.
Hernandez, in particular, looked badly in need of an FA Cup start. But Dowell must have sensed an opportunity to exert some pressure on Mario Vrancic for a tilt at the number 10 role.
The former Evertonian was recruited last summer to fill a problem position for the Canaries in the top flight. He took up some intelligent positions on a pudding of a pitch at Oakwell.
There was one clever back heel for the overlapping Placheta to pick out Max Aarons in the opening period. An even better step over in the second half that ended with Placheta slamming a shot against the underside of the bar, but like the rest of his team mates little tangible in terms of productivity.
Whether he has done enough to dislodge Vranic is debatable.
3. Rusty Rupp
Understandably given the length of his lay-off the German midfielder is another who will need minutes to find his feet. Those muscular problems with his hamstrings and then a bout of illness curtailed a very impressive start to the campaign.
There had been the makings of a productive union with Olly Skipp, but Rupp’s misfortune opened the door to Kenny McLean in recent times. The Scot barrelled his way through with a string of eye-catching displays driving forward from central midfield.
The McLean, Skipp axis had propelled Farke’s squad onwards and upwards.
But McLean’s positive coronavirus diagnosis on Friday fast-tracked Rupp back into the frame. Farke admitted in all probability it had come too soon in his recovery. That lack of sharpness was evident in the manner he started the game and later coughed up possession to spark the counter that led to Barnsley’s opener.
But there was also one or two powerful surges through the centre which marked out his best work prior to injury and illness.
With McLean set to remain in self-isolation for Boro’s Championship visit, City need Rupp ready to rock alongside Skipp when they resume the main business of the season. This outing will be money in the bank for all concerned.
4. Centurion Krul
Not the landmark result Norwich’s number one would have hoped for. But this was a rare poor day in what has been a superb Carrow Road career for the popular Dutchman.
Krul could not be blamed for Callum Styles’ low, bobbling winner. There was some confident work in the first half and two excellent stops after the break, as the game became increasingly stretched and Norwich’s desperation left gaps for Barnsley to exploit on the counter.
Krul has been a superb signing. A free agent who has added tremendous value. Both in terms of his own high performance levels and the impact he has had on the careers of young men like Max Aarons or Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis in his mentoring role.
Krul’s season could end with another Championship title winning medal and a spot as Holland’s number one at the delayed European Championships. That underlines the quality City have in their ranks as the last line of defence.
Farke paid him a warm tribute in the build up to his 100th appearance. He also made it clear there are plenty more to come. One hopes plenty more good days as well even if this one will not feature in the showreel.
No more cup congestion to contend with in an already challenging calendar. Game time for the likes of Rupp, who is going to be needed perhaps from the start against Middlesbrough, and back up options in wide areas.
Not to forget more invaluable time on the pitch at this level for young talent in Tyrese Omotoye and Josh Martin.
No-one could question Farke’s desire to progress. The City head coach wasted little time in introducing Skipp and Buendia to try and turn the tide. Plenty of his contemporaries may well have kept such crucial components for the Championship slog well under wraps.
City made five second half substitutions but on this occasion they could not find a way. But you would rather it happened with a cup place at stake than three points on the line.
Now the focus can switch totally to building on a dominant position at the head of the Championship.