Paddy’s Pointers: Pride comes after a heavy fall for the Canaries
PUBLISHED: 10:52 11 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:05 11 August 2019
Norwich City’s opening night Premier League trip to Liverpool proved a memorable affair. Paddy Davitt reflects on an occasion to savour for the Canaries.
- 1 Now the dust has settled
What an occasion. What a stage. What a place for Norwich City to begin this Premier League adventure.
But ultimately City's defensive naivety was exposed by what Daniel Farke insisted again, after the game, was the best club side in the world on current form. No shame in that.
Grant Hanley would struggle to repeat his shinned effort past Tim Krul while Jamal Lewis will surely never be as compliant again in man-to-man combat. Plus the number of ricochets that led to Mo Salah fortuitously guiding the ball beyond Krul underlined the fates were firmly against the visitors in that frenetic opening salvo. But they did not help themselves at either end of the park.
The absence of a clinical edge meant Liverpool escaped an early shock before the carnage started. What a response thereafter in terms of the character and bravery.
Liverpool's intensity may have dropped but credit Norwich for playing their part. This was a conflicting jumble of emotions. Positives and negatives. Frustration and pride.
The response from the travelling support at full-time spoke volumes. The only anger was directed towards the broadcasters. More on that later.
- 2 Big Ben chimes
The manner Godfrey stuck his chest out and led from the front in that second half typified the resolve in this entire group of players. You can only imagine what he felt as the Reds stormed through the defensive line seemingly at will in that initial salvo.
The water was uncomfortably deep and the tempo and intensity light years from Championship combat.
Yet after the interval Godfrey attacked defensive corners at his near post, got his body in the way with sliding challenges and did enough to thwart players like Roberto Firmino when they threatened to add to Liverpool's lead.
There was also a stoppage time strike at Adrian for good measure. The 21-year-old will have finished this game a better player than he started it.
Farke and his coaches must have spent all summer trying to tell the younger elements of the squad what is in store. Now he knows. And on this evidence he is going to relish the chance to prove he belongs.
- 3 No hiding place
Max Aarons and Lewis could well finish this season hailed as two of the best young full backs in the country.
Those inside Norfolk need no convincing. The talent is not in doubt. Neither the temperament. But they both endured a bumpy introduction to Premier League life.
Aarons was unable to cut out Divock Origi's cross, that indirectly led to Hanley's error, and was then a split second too slow to track his dart inside to glance home Trent Alexander-Arnold's wonderful pass.
A high class player the teenager should be studying in minute detail as this season develops.
Lewis similarly had a chance to clear his lines in the build up to Salah's goal and was dismissively eased aside by a Virgil van Dijk who did not need to jump to head home Salah's corner.
Both responded positively in the second period. As you would expect. But Anfield marked the start of a brutally steep learning curve. At this level speed of thought is more important that deed as they carry the fight down opposite flanks.
These young men have cleared every previous hurdle placed in front of them in meteoric career spurts. It is mad to reflect last season was actually the first full professional campaign for both. Now they are indispensible cogs in the Norwich machine. But they have just embarked on a whole new ball game.
- 4 Line manager Leitner
How to make an impact. Jordan Henderson was upended inside two minutes of his arrival to earn the opening yellow card of the match.
Then a thumping strike rattled Adrian's bar from Todd Cantwell's cut back.
Add a raking pass to Onel Hernandez, that underlined both his vision and technical ability, and Leitner offered more in a second half cameo than either Tom Trybull or Kenny McLean before him. It would be harsh to judge either on the evidence of the opening hour of the Premier League season, when Liverpool punished every individual error and the red wave poured through the Canaries' midfield. Leitner was introduced at a time when conditions were more favourable.
But with Ibrahim Amadou in the wings there will be many who feel a coupling between the two could offer the footballing diversity City will need in a vital area of the pitch.
Leitner has looked like a man keen to make a point and re-assert his hegemony after injury curtailed his frontline involvement last season. This was a compelling argument.
- 5 Have a heart
Norwich's away support vented their frustration towards a particular broadcaster at the final whistle. You can guess who.
Cross-country journeys took seven hours and more, in some cases, with only a marginally better outcome on the return leg. It was a magnificent occasion to be part of and the scramble for Anfield away tickets underlined there was always going to be a full contingent.
The vast sums broadcasters deposit with clubs through the Premier League now ensure they call the tune. But for Norwich's supporters to have to embark on such a trek to Merseyside on a Friday again underlined this long since stopped being the 'people's game'.
It is now also a corporate machine where the benefits of exclusive membership are both obvious and vast. But that comes with conditions attached.
Nor is it only about the top flight; recall that lunchtime television date at Wigan last season on the promotion run and another away sell out.
City fans must accept it. But that does not make it right.
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