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Norwich City: Adam Idah analysis in 2-1 Rotherham defeat

With Hwang Ui-jo waiting in the wings after completing a season-long from Nottingham Forest on Deadline Day – this served as an opportunity for Idah to seize the initiative ahead of the South Korean linking up with the squad after the international break. 

After a bright start to the campaign and an excellent second half offering in City’s 4-0 victory over Huddersfield Town last weekend, it felt like the momentum was with Idah ahead of his most recent City opportunity. 

Idah has had to watch as Sargent and Ashley Barnes earned plaudits for their early performances. Despite playing a major role in City’s positive start to the campaign, it still feels he has plenty to prove in yellow and green. 

It is too simplistic to construct a narrative that Norwich’s defeat was a direct result of Sargent’s absence.

While many may opt to focus on Idah, he was part of a collective that produced an offering that left them 2-0 down and didn’t hit the same standards as the one they have set for themselves in recent weeks. 

Rotherham were effective – they parked a high block inside Norwich’s half and invited the Canaries to play through them. That was a struggle in amongst an inability to complete the basics. 

Post-match, David Wagner expressed his frustration that Norwich failed to stretch the game and drag Rotherham out of that higher block. 

It’s an easy criticism to make – but it is the type of threat that Sargent has offered so powerfully in recent weeks. Instead, both Idah and Ashley Barnes wanted to come short, which squeezed the space in central areas, making it more frenetic. 

Norwich have offered a threat in behind in recent weeks – that presents a direct route to bypass any press and creates space centrally when an attacker makes that movement due to dragging a defender with them. 

That energy and enthusiasm to dart in behind wasn’t present. That limited Norwich’s options to deal with Rotherham’s pressure. They were forced to play through it and that proved difficult. 

Norwich Evening News: Adam Idah made his first Championship start of the season in Norwich City's defeat to Rotherham.Adam Idah made his first Championship start of the season in Norwich City’s defeat to Rotherham. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Dropping deeper to try and link the play is a natural instinct if strikers are trying to get themselves involved. That was the case in the first half. 

Norwich sought to address that by dropping Gabriel Sara deeper in the second, which led to an increase in performance. Idah was then able to drop into the space that tweaking the Brazilian’s position created. 

The Irish striker’s best spell of the game came in the period between Christian Fassnacht’s goal and when Liam Gibbs replaced him. Idah linked the play effectively but the service from wide areas was lacking. 

During the game, Idah had only one touch in the opposition penalty area. No City player managed fewer touches of the ball than his 25 during his 77 minutes on the pitch. It was another display that lacked the edge that he will need to see off competition from Hwang. 

17 of his 25 touches came in the middle third, which displays that desire to drop deeper rather than stretch the game which would have benefited Norwich. Only six of his 25 came inside the final third. 

If Idah wants to offer Norwich the same level of focal point that Sargent did, he will either need to stretch the game more effectively or Wagner will need to accompany his game with somebody who will. 

Gibbs offered more thrust and energy, even if erratic, after replacing Idah. The messaging to the 22-year-old from Wagner will likely have been that he needs to show more to affect the game in behind. 

Idah is not Sargent. They are different players with different threats – Norwich will need to work in equal measure to adapt what they have done successfully to accommodate him. 

But with Hwang waiting to make his mark, Idah will need to grasp these opportunities. He will likely be afforded another against Stoke. A failure to take it will likely result in a return to the bench. 

This wouldn’t have been the audition he had hoped for – but in a day of underperformance, he is likely to be afforded another opening to show he can absorb Sargent’s duties accordingly. 

Norwich Evening News: Adam Idah led the line alongside Ashley Barnes against Rotherham.Adam Idah led the line alongside Ashley Barnes against Rotherham. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

VERDICT: A difficult afternoon for the Irish international – not all of his own making. Didn’t stretch the game enough and was left to feed off very little service. Improved in the second half before being withdrawn in the 77th. 

RATING: 5 out of 10

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