During the opening weekend of the new Premier League season, Norwich City avoided a potentially damaging home defeat against Everton with a creditable 2-2 draw. But in their first away match of the season at Hull, a 1-0 defeat produced a setback that will have to be corrected if they are to push on following last season's difficulties.
The Canaries have made a number of promising additions to their squad during the transfer window. Ricky van Wolfswinkel opened his account for City in their opening match against Everton and showed glimpses of his talent against Hull, but only recorded one noteworthy shot against the Tigers.
Leroy Fer on his debut for Norwich at the KC stadium almost repeated van Wolfswinkel's feat with a close headed effort, but neither signing managed to make the difference for the Canaries.
It is clearly early in the season and much too soon to write off players following only two league matches. New additions will take time to gel and learn about each other's game, however when opportunities such as almost an hour facing a ten-man Hull City present themselves it is crucial that they are grabbed with two hands.
Last season, Norwich put in several stirring performances against the top sides (and several poor ones too), but generally struggled to put away those sides who finished around them. The result was an anxious climax to season in which relegation looked a genuine likelihood with three matches to play.
If they are to avoid similar circumstances this season they must ensure that they take victories from the newly-promoted sides at all costs. This is particularly crucial as their ambition in the market has been matched by those who finished around them last season. And against a side with ten men, the necessity is greater still.
In both of the season's matches thus far, it appears that the squad needs a playing identity. While not looking entirely balanced, they can neither said to be a flowing-attacking side nor a solid defensive one.
With the new resources at Chris Hughton's disposal, he needs to make his side a difficult-to-beat counter-attacking team for the 'top' clubs while unleashing their attacking potential against rivals such as Hull. In the weekend's match, the Norwich players seemed hesitant to play with freedom.
There are promising signs. Van Wolfswinkel looked strong in the match against Everton, while Fer showed signs of promise at Hull. The real successes thus far, however, have been Nathan Redmond and Javier Garrido. Redmond looks assured on the ball and certain to develop into a player of real quality, while Garrido is solid and rarely at fault, building on his loan spell last season.
With Gary Hooper still to come into the squad and the recent addition of Swede Johan Elmander, there is an incredible attacking potential at the club. Hughton now needs to provide them with a mentality to match.
What became clear at Hull is that the Canaries will have to make Carrow Road a feared place for teams to come to, and that begins next week with the potentially tricky tie against the attack-minded Southampton. They would have welcomed the Saints with much more confidence had they put this Hull side away and he worry will be if the first league win of the season still doesn't come that they will develop a negative spiral.
City have attracted these players through their ambition. If Hughton frees his charges and allows them to play an exciting and attacking brand of football that their potential craves, this season could be one of promise. But further failures in matches such as this and they will lose their new stars as quickly as they arrived.
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