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Change of midfield role for star man Maddison paid off for Canaries

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:26 21 March 2018

James Maddison was quick to feed City's wide players during Saturday's win over Reading. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

James Maddison was quick to feed City's wide players during Saturday's win over Reading. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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There was a noticeable shift in style to Norwich City’s play as head coach Daniel Farke continued his search for balance between defence and attack.

Josh Murphy played a key role in City's 3-2 home win over Reading, during his 100th appearance. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesJosh Murphy played a key role in City's 3-2 home win over Reading, during his 100th appearance. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

There was a noticeable shift in style to Norwich City’s play as head coach Daniel Farke continued his search for balance between defence and attack.

The Canaries offered a more fluent forward threat with a focus on more width during their 3-2 home victory over Reading, as both Josh Murphy and Onel Hernandez came to the fore.

It was still not quite the controlled performance that City’s German boss is striving for but the victory was certainly a step in the right direction, admittedly against a Royals team low in confidence as a relegation scrap looms.

Key to that seems to have been an effort to ensure that the midfield services the wide players, with Mario Vrancic James Maddison in particular tasked with setting Murphy and Hernandez away on either flank.

Cuban winger Onel Hernandez was a lively figure as the Canaries beat Reading at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesCuban winger Onel Hernandez was a lively figure as the Canaries beat Reading at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

“He’s always effective,” Farke said of Maddison’s performance in a slightly deeper role. “It was more of a game where he had to work a lot for the team because we gave him a slightly different tactical role and he accepted this.

“It was perhaps not like when he is more focused on the offence when he is in this role when he comes more into a shooting position. He was important, there with one goal and also with really good set-pieces, I’m pretty pleased with James.”

That followed a disappointing return of points and goals at home, which has seen Farke shuffle his pack in an attempt to make the most of home advantage.

Even after Saturday’s 3-2 win the Canaries have scored just 20 goals in 19 home Championship games and taken 26 from a possible 57 points. Drawing 0-0 at home against Burton, Bristol City, Bolton and Nottingham Forest in particular have proved costly, when so many chances were wasted.

Mario Vrancic also ensured City's wide players saw plenty of the ball against the Royals. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesMario Vrancic also ensured City's wide players saw plenty of the ball against the Royals. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Winning goals in those games would have City sitting two points outside of the play-offs with eight games remaining, instead of the 10 which leaves them too far adrift.

That is history of course though and Farke is actively setting about not only earning more points at home but also making the football more entertaining for the Carrow Road faithful.

According to the stats boffins at whoscored.com the Canaries have put in the fewest accurate crosses in the division, at an average of 3.1 per game. That raises slightly to 3.9 for just home games but still just three teams average lower.

After putting in just 11 crosses in both the narrow 1-0 win over Middlesbrough and the dramatic 1-1 draw with Ipswich, the Canaries started trying to shift emphasis, with Hernandez starting to find his form after his January arrival.

The 0-0 draws against Bolton and Forest, as well as Saturday’s win, all featured in excess of 20 crosses – with Murphy’s performance as an out-and-out winger rather than a support striker seemingly the big difference against Reading.

Clearly crossing is not the only ingredient needed in the complex recipe of a successful team and individual performances prove decisive but the 4-2-3-1 formation deployed against Reading ensured the striker, Dennis Srbeny on this occasion, looked far less isolated.

With a 3-4-3 formation previously looking so secure defensively, Farke now has to strike the right balance for the remaining eight matches if his first season in charge is to finish positively.

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