Paddy’s Pointers: What we discovered and what we already knew ahead of Norwich City’s tour finale
PUBLISHED: 06:05 19 July 2018
Norwich City wrap up their German tour with a glamour friendly against VfL Wolfsburg. Paddy Davitt delivers his observations as the week draws to a close
• A problem halved
It might have easily been a throwaway line from Daniel Farke after Jordan Rhodes got off the mark, but it also highlighted perhaps how he views the thorny issue of addressing a chronic lack of goals last season from his strikeforce.
Rhodes certainly arrived with a prolific reputation, even if his career appeared to have stalled somewhat at parent club Sheffield Wednesday.
But the onerous burden of adding some punch to the polish from the Canaries’ midfield mix will not rest solely on his broad shoulders.
Farke reiterated both Teemu Pukki and Dennis Srbeny retain the same levels of trust he is placing in Rhodes. Both have also been amongst the goals in pre-season. That trend needs to continue apace.
• Hanley with care
City have looked anything but secure defensively in these fitness work outs.
Sat in the small Main Stand at Delbruck on Tuesday was a reassuring sign it is far too early to worry about such frailty. Grant Hanley was a barnstorming addition to a defence that was exhibiting distress signals at the beginning of Farke’s Norwich tenure.
Not just his physical presence but his aura appeared to lift the performance levels of those around him and inject belief into supporters watching him. Hanley is being kept on a tight lease to ensure he is fully over a hamstring issue which has so far prevented his seasonal re-appearance.
The Scot may be desperate for game time but there is a long campaign ahead and Hanley most definitely has nothing to prove.
His return, by itself, will not address lingering concerns around the keeper situation, but nevertheless you expect the defence to look far more solid once he is back.
• Treat Wolfsburg in isolation
The Wolves’ friendly tonight is certainly the most eye-catching, not just of this tour of Germany but the entire pre-season schedule.
Wolfsburg may have had to scrap to retain their Bundesliga status in the past two campaigns, but not all that long ago they were competing at Europe’s top table and winning the German title with quality like Kevin de Bryune in their ranks.
This particular appetiser to the new Championship campaign should be treated on its own merits.
Wolfsburg have a reputation for passing football, in the same vein as Farke’s template. That may lend itself to a game easy on the eye but perhaps without the bite and aggressive undertone of the previous two friendlies against SC Paderborn and FC Union Berlin.
Both of those were stiff tests and far more like the weekly routine encountered in the second tier, when there is a premium on time and space. That said, it would be a scalp and a positive send off.
• Bonding sessions
Despite the result there was a great show of togetherness at the final whistle against Berlin, when City’s players and coaching staff were happy to mingle with those who had travelled from far and wide.
It takes a special commitment, not to mention expense, to back your club beyond the regular grind of a league season but into the off-season. Pressing the flesh and posing for pictures is a visible pay-back.
We saw it at the World Cup, in that re-connection which might be Gareth Southgate’s lasting legacy as England chief.
City clearly did not deliver on the pitch last season but such bonding sessions help both parties realise there is a common goal ahead when the action starts at St Andrews.
• Feisty Farke
It felt like intruding on a squabble between neighbours when City’s head coach berated the official for disallowing Ben Godfrey’s goal in midweek.
On further investigation, it appeared Farke felt the referee was favouring Berlin too often.
The passion in his verbal broadside had City fans scrambling for a translation. That perhaps jars with the perception of an urbane, measured, thoughtful operator on the touchline.
Farke is all of those but it would do him no harm at all to display such emotion at the right time in the upcoming season when he might need to spark the desired response from fans and players alike.