After a convincing 0-10 win for City, Vinny Mansi reports on some of the players that didn’t play regularly last season, how they performed against Hitchin and also how Youssouf Mulumbu faired in his first game for Norwich City.
Tony Andreu- Oh mon dieu!! (oh my goodness)
With a second half hat-trick and an assist for Gary Hooper, Tony Andreu was clearly eager to please and may have even scored four goals had it not been for the heroics of Hitchin goal keeper Charlie Horlock. Alex Neil stated last season that Andreu’s limited game time was down to him not being able to cope with the physical demands of the English leagues just yet. In his second half appearance it was clear to see that he has been doing some work in the gym to rectify this. He was quick, sharp and definitely had a good eye for goal.
With the situation arising that no Norwich City fan will one day want to face and that is life after Wes Hoolahan, having actually now watched Andreu for a full 45 minutes it’s now clear to see why Alex Neil has signed him. Even though it may have just been just a pre season friendly against a non league side, based on last night’s evidence out of all the players that were on the fringes last season, if Andreu continues to play like this, he may have the best chance of breaking into the starting line up more often.
Elliott Bennett- Potential Answer to strengthening options at the back?
Elliot Bennett at right-back seems to be an idea that Alex Neil is considering long term. Against Hitchin Bennett proved that he’s versatile and has the potential to fit the bill for an attacking right back with some good crosses into the box. He definitely has pace which many fans felt we lacked in our defensive line up last season. The problem with Bennett playing in this position is that do we have the luxury of time to experiment with the idea of a former winger now learning his new trade on the job in the Premier League? Against Hitchin on one occasion early in the first half City were exposed down the right and only a fantastic save from Ruddy stopped Hitchin forward Matt Lench from equalising. On the evidence of last night Elliott Bennett is a good defensive (and still midfield) option to have but may have to start off with being content to step into the breach when injuries occur and developing his game in the cup competitions before featuring regularly as a right-back in the Premier League, or we could see him go out on loan again.
Jamar Loza and Harry Toffolo- Are they ready to step up?
Jamar Loza ran his socks off against Hitchin; he chased down every single ball and gave everything for the cause of the team and provided a clever assist for Cameron Jerome. His work rate was definitely not in question and this went a good way to explaining why he has able to help City salvage an injury time away point against Huddersfield last season.
It was also encouraging to see Harry Toffolo bombing forward down the left providing some good crosses and was also at the heart of the build to one of Tony Andreus’s goals. Whether or not he is a capable deputy for Martin Olsson just yet remains to be seen.
Against Hitchin both players showed bags of energy and desire so hopefully we will at least see these two young guns get starts in cup competitions before City considering sending them out on loan again.
Youssouf Mulumbu – West Brom’s loss and Norwich City’s gain?
I would certainly like to think so. Though he did not have all that much do against Hitchin he definitely slotted into his defensive midfield role comfortably which obviously provides competition or cover for Alex Tettey which can only be a good thing. One thing is for sure is that when you see him up close the man is a brick wall and opposing teams are going to have to try and run round him rather than through him. Mulumbu should provide a very strong physical presence in midfield which combined with many games of Premier League experience will help to protect City’s defence.