Norwich City had the chance to break a club record as they travelled to the Macron Stadium in hope of a fifth consecutive away win. A dip in form has followed a positive string of results for the side from Norfolk.
Five things we learned from Norwich City’s 2-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers
How long until Alex Tettey is back?
It’s been a curious season for the Norwegian midfielder. He went from being deemed surplus to requirements to being an integral figure in Norwich City’s engine room. The cultured midfielder’s presence is being severely missed in the Canaries lineup.
Tettey’s defensive intelligence, positioning, and guile are lacking from the Canaries defensive resolve at present. The combination of Tom Trybull and Harrison Reed is struggling with the defensive aspects of the game.
Tettey’s introduction to the team following an experimental August led to a fertile uplift in form. Alongside colleague Trybull, who stole headlines for his range of passing and ability, they helped the Canaries grab the game by the scruff of its neck.
Norwich’s light has dimmed since his absence. That is no coincidence. Despite the potential of on-loan Reed, the manner in which Norwich collapsed after 25 minutes amplifies the void seen in Tettey’s absence.
But it is still a month until his return.
Farke must find a solution to his absence. Norwich’s lack of steel in the middle phase of the pitch is becoming increasingly evident. The isolation of the back four and struggle to retrieve turnovers have been a big problem once Norwich’s midfield is bypassed.
Norwich need to solve the offensive woes
Norwich looks offensively inept. A lack of differentiation and inspiration in the final third of the pitch is hurting Norwich’s ability to win games. A continuation of Cameron Jerome’s poor goalscoring form and inability to convert simple chances provides his detractors with greater ammunition.
One league goal in twelve games simply isn’t good enough for Jerome. He is not, however, the underlining issue. There is a lack of dynamic and direct play that is restricting the offence.
It was only a season previous that an all-encompassing Norwich side were scoring at will and leaking dangerously. Despite reasons to be cheerful, more recently these factors have merely reversed in this campaign.
Nelson Oliveira’s injury obviously hampers the squad. However, it proves unhealthy to hinge all of Norwich’s aspirations onto the shoulders of the eccentric Portuguese international. Jerome’s lack of conviction is restricting Norwich’s points tally.
Norwich need offensive reinforcements in January, whether that be through recalling Carlton Morris from an impressive spell at Shrewsbury or dipping their toes into the market, another option is needed.
Marco Steipermann is not a left back
He’s described as a versatile and professional operator. Steipermann is offensively minded, and that is apparent through his gung-ho interpretation of the left back position. He busts a gut to support offensive efforts and lacks significantly in his desire to defend doggedly.
Bailed consistently when Tettey could cover at centre-back, Steipermann is finding life hard in the absence of the aforementioned midfielder.
He was first exposed consistently in the opening interval at Portman Road. More recently, this continued against Derby at home. The German back seems to be struggling with the defensive parts of his role. Whilst there are more pressing concerns for Farke to sift through over the international hiatus, Steipermann must be subject to relentless coaching.
Sammy Ameobi’s superiority and Steipermann’s lack of defensive resolve married to benefit the former. He ran riot with penetrating and direct running. Whilst the latter’s attacking efforts gloss over his woeful defensive positioning, Steipermann needs addressing and quickly.
Maddison or Hoolahan, Herr Farke
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Norwich lack width. Wes Hoolahan’s repeated inclusion in the starting lineup is seeing the small Irishman deployed as a make-shift right winger.
In reality, this is merely the position Hoolahan with takes during defensive phases. On the ball, a lack of width on the right wing is apparent. Ivo Pinto’s isolation leads to opponents overloading the sides and pushing wingers further forward to maintain Pinto’s defensive position and reduce his offensive play.
Spatially, Hoolahan is crowding out starlet James Maddison. The two occupy similar spaces and defences are comfortable with them crowding the other out. What Norwich require in this 4-2-3-1 formation is a direct, penetrative and offensive winger, not Hoolahan shoehorned out on the right side.
Farke’s precursors have all experimented with Hoolahan being deployed in a wide area with limited success. The 36-year-old needs to operate centrally. His acute passes and offensive influence are at their most potent when he is deployed in this position. Farke must learn and quickly.
Time for Hanley?
Christoph Zimmermann has grown into the role of defensive colossus in recent times. He was another key cog in the fabric of a Norwich side who went on a very good run in the league.
However, a defensive mistake against Derby led to David Nugent finishing exquisitely. He repeated the mistake at the Macron. The German failed to smell the run of Gary Madine for the Trotters opener.
Grant Hanley was bought for a sizable amount of Norwich’s summer budget. He has found playing time relatively hard to come by since his move from Newcastle. Yet his experience and leadership should be tapped into as Farke seeks to return Norwich to the form which found them occupying the playoff positions post-Ipswich.
Zimmermann’s defensive characteristics have been reminiscent of the qualities John Terry possessed as he grew to become one of the world’s best operators. While he is evidently inferior to Terry, Zimmermann’s style is similar.
Hanley was purchased to provide ballast to Norwich’s back four. Despite a rare outing on Tuesday in light of a severely jaded squad, Hanley has been in the shadows of the colossal German.
As Zimmermann suffers a dip in form, Farke must deploy Hanley in an attempt to rekindle top gear.
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