David Hannant: It can't just be losing Emi, can it?

Emiliano Buendia of Norwich celebrates scoring his side’s 1st goal during the Sky Bet Championship

Emi Buendia has penned an emotional farewell to Norwich City. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

What a year these last few days have been - it certainly feels that way anyway.

It genuinely feels about a lifetime-and-a-half ago that we were celebrating an emphatic and immediate return to the Premier League. 

And yet it doesn't feel like hyperbole to say that it feels like we are watching an entirely different team, sitting pointless after five games and having just been humbled by Liverpool's second string in the cup.

From watching a team with real identity and motivation sweep aside the Championship, we now look rudderless, short of identity and totally deflated.

Clearly something big is missing - or perhaps not that big. Five foot seven to be exact - if the song is anatomically correct anyway.

Billy Gilmour of Norwich and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Liverpool in action during the Carabao Cup m

City struggled to keep a grip on Liverpool during the Carabao Cup defeat - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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We always knew being without Emi Buendia was going to have a huge impact, but surely it can't just be not having possibly the most talented player this club has ever seen?

But equally, there are reasonable arguments to suggest that almost every problem City face right now can be in some way linked to the loss of Emi.

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Even when we were enjoying football heaven in yellow and green, the record without him in the team was far from flattering - you could probably count on one hand the number of wins City picked up without him in the side when he was a Canary.

Obviously, we were always going to have to get used to life without him, but it's hard to think of another time that losing one player has appeared to have such a seismic effect.

On the pitch, we can clearly see a huge lack of spark, creatively and in general. Losing six out of seven games speaks for itself and we look a side short of confidence and short of fire.

So many times already we have seen shoulders slump and heads dropped - something you very seldom saw from Emi.

Yes he had his occasional volatile moment where he lost his head, but for all of his creative flair he also had fight in spades - which is what we need. 

When other players see somebody with that kind of fire, it lights the flame under them as well - so far this season I'm not seeing that.

And the psychological impact of losing a player like him clearly can't be underestimated.

I don't claim to be an expert in psychology, but seeing your best player sold so soon in the window must have some kind of effect on mentality.

Knowing you're going to be without somebody of Emi Buendia's ilk can't not make players feel like they're already faced with an uphill battle.

Buendia also did far more defensively than people give him credit for - he put in his fair amount of graft dropping back. 

It's no coincidence that almost every goal we've conceded this season has been a soft goal coming from exploiting wide open spaces behind our full-backs.

This is largely to do with the loss of Olly Skipp as well, but between those two players you've taken away the engine of our team - and the chassis. 

Now, clearly I understand that Emi wanted to leave, was desperate to and had a gentleman's agreement that if another team met our valuation we'd allow him to go this season.

And I also understand a lot of the transfer window's business did rely on selling him.

But equally, seeing the impact the loss on him has had, could we maybe have done more to keep him?

Emi is obviously ambitious, but also, money must have been an influencing factor in his decision to seek a new challenge. And this begs the question: was there a figure we could have stumped up to make him give it one more crack as a Norwich player?

While we have a wage structure and there is a strong argument that it could have disrupted the harmony of the dressing room to break this, what player would question it knowing it would keep Emi a yellow?

Take Manchester United for example. Obviously, the figures are on a grander scale but one suspects Cristiano Ronaldo is on significantly more than anyone else in the dressing room.

I somehow doubt however that somebody sitting on £50,000 a week at United is unsettled because Ronaldo is earning about 10 times more - they're probably just grateful to have Ronaldo.

So had Norwich made an exception to the wage structure for Emi, maybe the case would have been the same.

I know if I were in that dressing room I wouldn't begrudge the club pushing the boat out.

Clearly I don't know how much effort was made to persuade Emi to stay and obviously blocking him his wish could have had a dangerous knock-on effect.

But at the same time, he had his wobble at the start of last season then buckled down. Maybe a sweetened pay package and a written-in clause that if City are in the bottom three come January he could move might have been enough.

If anything could've been done, it should have been, frankly, even if it had limited who we could bring in. But that's easy to say with hindsight.

From what I can see though, life after Emi isn't going to get any brighter - and I have never hoped to be wrong about something more.

Wait and see on Tzolis dressing down

Following Tuesday's cup debacle, a fair bit was said about Daniel Farke's criticism of Christos Tzolis after grabbing the ball to take the penalty he wasn't down to take.

The main criticism being that he has singled out an individual for a public dressing down just days after publicly sticking up for others.

Personally, I think we need to wait and see before deciding whether or not this is a bad decision.

The key thing to remember is that there is no one size fits all when it comes to man management. What is good for the goose is not always good for the gander.

Daniel Farke clearly saw fit to make it known he was unhappy with City's marquee summer signing - but let's not write that off as the wrong decision.

It does seem we as fans often forget players are individual human beings who all need to be treated as such - Farke may have identified a characteristic in Tzolis that means this will motivate him. We don't know for sure, let's wait for the reaction.

It has worked in the past with Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell, let's see if it works again.

Sargent could have major impact

While Watford and Liverpool were both pretty miserable affairs overall, one bright spark to take from either game was Josh Sargent.

Bear with me here. 

For me, against Watford he was the best player on the pitch, he reminded me a bit of Grant Holt in the way he fought for everything and threw himself about.

So how was he a bright spark in the Liverpool game without playing I hear you scream.

Personally, take away the awful goals and I saw some potential in the system - which could really work for the American international.

On Saturday, I'd like it see it given another go, with the Sargent-Pukki partnership at the tip of it.

Sargent looks exactly what we need - physical, willing to put in the graft and doesn't look to give up lost causes.

It feels like an age since we had a good old fashioned front two partnership - him and Pukki could well be that.

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