David Freezer: Chances to impress Farke are wasted as the real business moves closer for City
PUBLISHED: 16:00 30 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:00 30 July 2018
Judging performances during pre-season is always a risky business but it was clear Daniel Farke was far from happy with what he saw from his players during their defeat at Charlton.
City’s head coach said after the 1-0 loss to lower-level opposition that he hoped the performance, in particular a very sloppy first half, would come as a wake-up call to his over-confident squad.
Those are welcome comments from a Canaries boss already showing signs of being battle-hardened by his first brutal Championship campaign, without going over the top on a friendly display which did eventually finish on some positive notes.
The final game of pre-season in particular is one that deserves judgment to be reserved, with the lingering focus of avoiding injury in the back of all players’ heads so close to the opening day of the season, whether conscious or sub-conscious.
There is no need to charge into tackles when so much of the fitness work and tactical talk are already in the bank – although perhaps Jordan Rhodes should have been reminded of that during the 3-1 win at Luton last week, where he picked up an ankle knock charging into an unnecessary midfield challenge.
Thankfully the new striker is set to return to training this week and should still be involved in some form against Birmingham on Saturday. Alex Tettey is also over the chickenpox but only has 45 minutes in the tank, while full-backs Jamal Lewis and Ivo Pinto have not played at all.
It looks unlikely that Lewis and Pinto can get straight into action, so there was quite the opportunity for Borussia Dortmund loanee Felix Passlack at right-back and James Husband on the other side when they were named in the starting line-up at The Valley.
With both hooked at half-time after a dismal 45 minutes, it’s fair to say that neither grabbed their chance. Passlack in particular was being beaten for pace and strength by 31-year-old winger Mark Marshall, while Husband’s touch eluded him to the point that he stood on the ball to bring an end to a City attack.
Ben Marshall came on at right-back and again looked far more composed in defence and attack. For 20-year-old Passlack it seems the period of adjustment endured by Mario Vrancic during the first half of last season could well be looming. Husband may still get the nod at St Andrew’s though. Academy youngster Max Aarons came on and looked brighter at left-back but a senior debut on the opening day would be a big ask – and quite the snub to Husband.
In the centre of defence it seems Timm Klose and Grant Hanley are near certainties, while Tim Krul will be number one after getting two full matches under his belt.
The big Dutchman was required to keep out a Marshall shot at his near post during a busy first half, after he had successfully beaten Passlack. The winger’s crosses also saw George Lapslie head over from close range and Jake Forster-Caskey lash a shot straight at Krul, while Karlan Grant clipped a post for the League One hosts.
The only first-half positive for the Canaries was when Onel Hernandez curled home a tidy finish after good work from Passlack and Teemu Pukki, only for an offside flag to intervene.
Yet it was only because of a Forster-Caskey shot which deflected off Klose and Hanley past the wrong-footed Krul that the Addicks got the win, as substitutes made an impact for Farke in the second half.
Emi Buendia provided the late creative spark that Mo Leitner had struggled to find, with Todd Cantwell twice denied by fine saves from home keeper Dillon Phillips, as was a Ben Godfrey header from a Marshall corner.
The equaliser would not arrive though, sending City to Birmingham on the back of a defeat, with places in the starting XI clearly still up for grabs.
Now it’s time for the real deal, to find out who is capable of moving through the gears quickly.
Leitner is yet to suggest he has found his groove and that midfield mix is likely to be so key against a Garry Monk team who will also want to dominate possession.
In the first half it was Charlton dominating midfield. Now Farke must decide if he needs Louis Thompson or Ben Godfrey to add steel in Tettey’s stead – to ensure the new season starts on a solid footing.