Paddy Davitt verdict: We all know where the problem lies at Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 19:25 15 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:28 16 April 2018
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Moritz Leitner leant against the electronic advertising board and shook his head. If ever a picture rendered the spoken word redundant this was the moment on Norwich City’s Championship voyage of discovery.
The Bundesliga import had superbly retrieved a lost cause, tight to the byline in front of the Barclay, and cut the ball back for Dennis Srbeny.
Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge was taken out of the equation by the weight of the cutback.
The deadlock was about to be broken and, who knows, another impressively assured win to follow in the same manner City previously swept aside Aston Villa.
Until Sean Morrison launched himself at Srbeny to produce a goal-saving block. Leitner’s body language said it all in the immediate aftermath.
It was no slight on his fellow German, more the latest episode in an enduring melodrama.
At various points this season City have been unable to defend properly and defend with magnificent resolution. Clean sheets have counter-balanced some woeful Championship surrenders.
But bar the odd, isolated attacking flourish, at no stage during Daniel Farke’s first tour of duty have they convinced the majority they possess the firepower to match the promise of their build up play.
Take James Maddison out of the equation, which may well be the case beyond the summer, and no other Norwich player has reached double figures in the league.
To this advanced stage of proceedings that is no anomaly, that is a trend that must be addressed. No team above Norwich in the standings has scored fewer goals, either home or away.
Farke, sporting director Stuart Webber and the club’s recruitment department know the headline figures and plenty of the statistical small print as well.
They also know the answers may lie outside the personnel now at Farke’s disposal.
City’s head coach, perhaps for the first time, alluded to what must happen prior to the Sunderland trip; another frustrating exercise where the visitors carved out enough chances to win multiple contests and were reliant on a full-back slamming home in the 89th minute.
Farke is confident Webber can deliver.
It will prove no easy task, given Norwich’s financial resources and the price tags that usually adorn proven goalscorers in the higher echelons of the English pyramid.
Creativity remains the buzzword but Norwich, clearly, need more than the undoubted potential of a Srbeny or the precociousness of Carlton Morris, or any of the other growing collection of development strikers.
Unearth a forward or two capable of embellishing the beautiful brush strokes and Norwich can realistically expect to return from places like Wearside with points on a consistent basis and put away promotion-chasers like Cardiff.
Leitner and Srbeny combined cleverly on a quickly-taken corner that ended with Srbeny’s stabbed effort rebounding off a post before Mario Vrancic was unable to react a split-second faster inside the six yard box.
Kenneth Zohore underlined the subtle difference, in the manner he pounced on Angus Gunn’s parry from his initial header to cheekily slot at a near post gap left by the Manchester City loanee.
You might justifiably argue comparisons between the Danish striker and Norwich’s cultured Bosnian midfielder are unfair.
Equally true, Zohore, surprisingly, is yet to reach double figures for a campaign that could end in a Premier League ascent.
But that hunger and anticipation inside the penalty box Farke highlighted recently as a flaw in his squad was evident in Zohore’s opening goal.
When the Canaries harness it, as they did so thrillingly a week earlier to sink Villa, they look close to the full package; miserly at the back, creative through the middle and packing a punch at the top end.
Despite falling the wrong side of the line against Cardiff, there is enough evidence to engender optimism.
But so much hinges on City’s relative success to find the right pieces for the jigsaw.
Norwich’s future collides with Norwich’s past this weekend.
Alex Neil’s departure marked a watershed moment, when the club’s hierarchy embarked on a radical change of course.
Neil is rapidly restoring his reputation at Preston, and there will be no favours dispensed at Deepdale.
Farke’s men must grasp every opportunity that presents itself. Or risk more head shaking.