Norwich City have a star on their hands and supporters should be excited: Opinion
Norwich City have not been shy in turning to the transfer market for many positions this window but should trust the academy on this occasion.
After a campaign to forget for the Canaries, a big sticking point for Norwich has been the lack of reliable, creative wingers – now is the perfect time for Jonathan Rowe to show what he can do
A team which many people would have predicted to be fighting it out for the title last term, Norwich fell beneath their usual expectations resulting in a mid-table finish.
A team often donned a ‘yo-yo club’, the Norfolk outfit has prided themselves on being one of the top sides in the division in recent campaigns, winning the title in their last two attempts.
However, a lack of a coherent plan upon their most recent relegation proved fatal, just one win in their last 11 outings in the final run-in leaving David Wagner’s side well off the pace, seven points off the play-off picture.
Naturally, they have turned to the transfer market in search of a quick solution. Jack Stacey, Ashley Barnes and Shane Duffy arrived early in the window from the Premier League while Borja Sainz and Christian Fassnacht look to provide creativity and goals from midfield areas.
The departure of Teemu Pukki leaves Josh Sargent as the only player to reach double figures for the season last season with Gabriel Sara registering 11 goals and assists in his debut campaign – a shining light at the heart of the midfield. The Brazilian star will not be enough for the Canaries, however, as other creative outlets will need to deliver this season to make Norwich a dangerous outfit on all fronts once again.
The days of Pukki’s brilliance have since passed and the mantle will have to be passed on to other experienced professionals or upcoming stars in their bid to win back their Championship crown. One player who is taking the opportunity is 20-year-old Jonathan Rowe in what he and Norwich will be hoping is a season to remember for a star in the making.
Who is Jonathan Rowe?
While not his first rodeo in Norwich colours, it was a first league start to remember for Jonathan Rowe against Hull City this weekend, registering his first goal for the club with the all-important equaliser against the Tigers in a late 2-1 win at Carrow Road.
Making his Premier League debut at 18, he made 13 cameos in the top flight in their relegation campaign. A chance to impress in the Championship, injury woes instead hampered the then teenager’s chance at game time, making just three substitute appearances at the back end of last season.
Now fully fit and raring to go, Rowe will be hoping for an injury-free season to show the league what he can do on the big stage after garnering lots of interest in his impressive performances in the Premier League 2.
What can be expected from Rowe?
Topped off by a fantastic strike from the edge of the area, Rowe’s performance on the opening day was much more than that. The academy product was an assured presence in the Canaries midfield, composed on the ball to play his team out of danger as well as dragging his team forward with tricky footwork and quick pace to turn defenders on numerous occasions.
Operating as an attacking midfielder or as a wide option, Rowe demonstrated his qualities at both ends of the pitch, looking promising in the tackle while also being able to draw a foul with his pace proving too much at times for Championship defenders.
Ultimately, regular starts and game time will be necessary to aid his development and breed confidence – a goal on his first start will certainly go a long way in doing that. Building the awareness of picking that final pass and improving his shot selection will come in time as he returns to regular football after so many months away from the action.
A big obstacle now is competition for his place while potential incomings will also be vying for his spot.
What competition is in his way?
The luxury of experience is something which Rowe does not possess and could go against him if Wagner opts for more senior pros in the long term. For now, a midfield unit of Kenny McLean, Onel Hernández, Gabriel Sara and himself proved a formidable force with the latter flourishing at the top end of the field.
New signing Christian Fassnacht, however, will likely be a mainstay in the Canaries eleven going forward after a brief introduction with a 20-minute cameo on Saturday. Possessing a serious goal threat with 12 goal contributions for BSC Young Boys last season, one of the midfield regulars will likely have to give way for the Swiss midfielder.
Elsewhere, fellow youngster Tony Springett will be keen to keep Rowe on his toes after replacing him with 15 minutes of regular time left to play. A first serious test at senior level, the 20-year-old made ten appearances for Derby County last term and will be eager to stake his claim as Norwich’s star talent in his own right.