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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Norwich not as bad as shocking scoreline at Millwall suggests

Mark Langdon turns the spotlight on the Canaries

Marcel Franke of Norwich
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Sky Bet Championship
Millwall 4    Norwich 0
Gregory 15
Saville 17
Wallace 42
Hutchinson 72

Successful long-term betting strategies involve sometimes ignoring the obvious and often being prepared to look beyond the result so we may as well get the glaring stuff out of the way quickly.

Norwich losing 4-0 at Millwall is a shocker and the heat has been well and truly turned up on new novice Norwich boss Daniel Farke after this latest loss, which came quickly on the heels of the 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa.

That's 12 goals conceded in five league games - the worst defensive record in the Sky Bet Championship - and questions will already be asked of sporting director Stuart Webber, the man who has taken many plaudits for Huddersfield's rise up to the Premier League. 

It's fair to say the Webberlution is not going to plan and some of the defending at the Den was nowhere near good enough. Anyone who has watched Millwall knows all about the long balls they play up to Steve Morison, who flicks it on for strike partner Lee Gregory.

That was the route for goal number one, the impressive George Saville doubled that advantage two minutes later as a shell-shocked Norwich failed to react to going one down against the run of play, and it was three before the break when a Wes Hoolahan tackle unfortunately played in Jed Wallace.

Millwall went into the game having scored less than half their number of expected goals this term and then they notched with virtually every attack. Football, eh?

It was effectively game over before half-time and skipper Russell Martin was blamed by the visiting supporters. The centre-back was booed in the first half and then cheered when substituted as Farke switched to a 3-4-1-2 formation around the hour mark.

The Canaries still created dangerous moments but Shaun Hutchinson made sure of victory with a header from a set-piece. 

There has been a backlash from Norwich supporters on Twitter and one local newspaper report was particularly scathing. It's understandable and that anger is part of being a fan but as a neutral at the Den I am about to write something that sounds bonkers.

Norwich were the better team in the first half.

Most of their football going forward was slick and Millwall keeper Jordan Archer was called into serious action on a number of occasions. Norwich were ahead 9-6 on shots, 5-4 on shots on target, 6-1 on corners and possession was 70-30. It was never a 3-0 half.

The dangerous Hoolahan drifted off the right flank and interchanged with James Maddison, Josh Murphy kept the width on the left, Nelson Oliveira, who would be a perfect forward for a team such as Wolves, looked lively, and Mario Vrancic was trying to dictate play.

Maybe that's one too many forward-thinking options and in future, Maddison may have to be left out for the more defensive-minded Alex Tettey to help Harrison Reed, but Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn had barely touched the ball before his side were three down.

The pressing game Farke wants to use needs time to be coached, particularly from a defensive point of view because if even one player switches off teams are often left looking hopelessly exposed.

David Wagner's Huddersfield career started with five defeats in seven games and 14 goals conceded, while Tottenham were desperate in the early days under Mauricio Pochettino, failing to win six of their opening nine league matches with some heavy defeats.

Whether Farke is up to the standard of Wagner or Pochettino remains to be seen but it will need the people of Norfolk to show patience, which is admittedly much easier said than done. However, this performance was not as bad as the scoreline suggests.

Millwall 4-4-2: Archer; McLaughlin, Hutchinson, Webster, Meredith; Wallace (Ferguson 78), Saville (Onyedinma 84), Williams, O'Brien; Morison, Gregory (Tunnicliffe 74).

Norwich 4-1-4-1: Gunn; Pinto, Martin (Zimmermann 59), Franke, Husband; Reed (Stiepermann 59); Hoolahan, Maddison (Tettey 75), Vrancic, Murphy; Oliveira.

Read more
Team in focus: Wolves
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Whether Farke is up to the standard of Wagner or Pochettino remains to be seen but it will need the people of Norfolk to show patience
E.W. Terms
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