Two goals. One clean sheet. Three more points. Norwich City’s victory against Cardiff City was described by Daniel Farke as mature on Saturday.
“I’m quite happy because it’s never easy to deliver in the toughest league in the world on all three days, keeping in mind that we came back from Reading in the early hours of Thursday morning, so it was a quick turnaround,” he added.
“To be focused again, against a highly motivated side in Cardiff who were on fire with five wins from the last six games, made it a pretty mature performance today.
“We scored two goals and returned to the dressing room with a clean sheet and were able to defend all their set-pieces. They’re an unbelievably strong side in terms of set pieces.
“Game management today went quite well. If I want to criticise something, perhaps we could have been more effective in using our chances because we had so many chances to make our lives easier.
“You never know - when you’re just 1-0 or 2-0 up, with one set-piece they can change the game, but it was a mature performance and it’s great what the lads have done in the last weeks, but we have to keep going.”
Cardiff have been a threat from set-pieces all season, and although Norwich conceded a fair few of them, the Bluebirds failed to really concern the Canaries from their plethora of free-kicks and corners.
“During the game, they were quite dangerous and this is one topic we could improve,” Farke said. “I got the feeling in the first half and at the beginning of the second half that we gave away unnecessary set-pieces in corners, free-kicks and throw-ins.
“They’re one of the toughest and strongest sides in this topic and we’re playing with so many technical players.
“It’s great to have Todd Cantwell, Emi Buendia, Teemu Pukki and Max Aarons on the pitch but they’re not the tallest, so it’s sometimes difficult to defend tall lads like Morrison.
“I have to say, it’s quite good how we managed it and we looked quite comfortable even in those situations, but we were also perfectly prepared with how we wanted to defend them, so credit to my coaching staff who are responsible for the set-pieces.
“The lads were fantastic in these topics today. I would have preferred to manage a few less chances against us, but all in all I can’t complain too much because we return back with a clean sheet, so for that it was a good game.”
At the other end, Norwich could have scored at least a handful of goals on Saturday, as Cardiff’s defence allowed them through on goal on multiple occasions.
“It’s always a good sign when you’re capable of creating many chances, especially against this setup today,” Farke said. “Cardiff chose to play for the first time this season with three central defensive-oriented midfielders, so it was clear they wanted to be solid.
“We were capable of scoring two goals and managed to create many chances out of counter-attacks, set pieces, attacks on the wings and great possession play. We played between lines.
“With both goals, it was a little vertical pass, firstly with Kenny McLean and secondly Emi Buendia. They were great finishes from Emi and Todd.
“In general, our position structure was quite good and I was pleased with our overall performance.”
Cantwell was one of the standout performers against Cardiff, something that’s been helped by his phased return to the starting 11 in recent weeks.
“It’s not like he came back and pressed a button,” Farke said. “He’s been in team training for a while now and I got the feeling since he returned that he was absolutely focused to work hard. He looked quite sharp in his first short-term appearance for 15 minutes.
“In 25 minutes, he looked even better, then in 45 minutes he looked really good. You have to earn your debut after injury back in the starting lineup. It’s not like one day you’re back and you can straight away deliver.
“You have to deliver with consistency on the training pitch and when you come into the games and that’s what he’s done in the last weeks, so I was quite confident that today was the day to bring him into the starting lineup and he paid back the trust with a good performance and great goal.
“This is what I expect from all my players when there is a chance to be prepared - to grab it with both hands. Hopefully, some will come back from injury in the next days and weeks and they can deliver in this way.
“We had some good signs already with Jordan Hugill looking quite sharp as well as Kieran Dowell. It’s good to have a few options back and Lukas Rupp was back on the bench today.
“We still have some injuries to key players and I’m looking forward to having them back because we need them a lot.”