These are truly bleak times to be an Ireland supporter but there are reasons to be hopeful. There might be a lost generation of Irish talent, but a number of teenage Irish footballers are proving their own ability in England. And they're being developed by some tremendous coaches.
It's been an incredible few days in the life of centre back Andrew Omobamidele. Injuries to Ben Gibson and Christoph Zimmerman have meant that Daniel Farke had to thrust the Leixlip teenager into the Norwich defense last Friday. But Omobamidele was brilliant against Preston in his first start with the senior team on Good Friday and his stats were savage as the Canaries embarrassed Huddersfield Town last night 7-0.
Clean sheet and 3 points, the boys were unplayable tonight ⛔️🔥 @NorwichCityFC pic.twitter.com/W0VSwgXUIY
— Andrew Omobamidele (@AndrewOmobamid1) April 6, 2021
Huddersfield were a shambles, but Omobamidele continues to wow Norwich supporters.
Andrew Omobamidele is truly special💪
🚫 Clean sheet
⚔️ 5/5 duels won
🚀 3 clearances
🤼♂️ 7 ball recoveries
🎯 84/86 passes completed
🦶 92 touches
🙌 7-0 win
👶 18 years old#ncfc pic.twitter.com/z8ypu1Zsvu
— Canary Cast (@CastCanary) April 6, 2021
How comfortable does Omobamidele look? It's not easy to slot in to a side that plays quality passing football but he wants the ball, he's calm on the ball, organises others on set pieces. Another quality youth player Farke has introduced at exactly the right time #NCFC
— Jack 💛💚 (@JField97) April 6, 2021
I forgot Omobamidele was playing.
He is so calm, so composed.
What a talent we have!!! #ncfc
— Tommy (@tfid23) April 6, 2021
For a second time, Omobamidele steps across to cover a huge gap - this time as O'Brien threatens to break straight through the middle.
Has been an excellent follow-up so far from AO, this.
⏱️56 | 🔰 5-0 🐩#NCFC #EFL #HTAFC
— Michael Bailey (@michaeljbailey) April 6, 2021
After being named Norwich's Man of the Match on Friday, Omobamidele earned a 7 in the Pink 'Un's player ratings.
This professional lark is easy. A second senior start of his career will take some beating. But despite City’s overwhelming dominance his concentration levels were spot on to track Ward’s run from a quickly taken free kick and sweep up behind his team mates
It's a fascinating time for the Ireland U21 player. Norwich are going to win the Championship and if Omobamidele continues this form, he could find himself starting matches against some of the best players in the world next August.
He doesn't seem intimidated by the job at hand. What's most exciting from an Irish perspective is that the Kildare man is learning the game from a brilliant tactician and man-manager like Daniel Farke. Norwich kept faith in Farke after being relegated last season. They've lorded the Championship this year, playing gorgeous, high-pressing football. The club has its values, on and off the pitch, and it's no surprise Farke has brought 11 players through the academy to senior debuts.
Last night, Norwich fans were chuffed to see Farke giving a Omobamidele a 1-on-1 coaching tutorial on the pitch minutes after the final whistle of this thrashing of Huddersfield.
Just won 7-0, you've kept a clean sheet and your gaffer is still wanting you to make improvement, a 5 minute chat after full time. 18-YEARS-OLD. What a Manager! #NCFC #Farke pic.twitter.com/OutRTFTaih
— Ben (@BenHuntley2000) April 7, 2021
This sums Norwich City up beautifully.
We've just won 7-0, you've kept a clean sheet and your gaffer is still wanting you to make improvement, a 5 minute chat after full time. 18-YEARS-OLD.
We're in safe hands my friends.
Premier League here we come pic.twitter.com/g25ywMVHXZ
— Jack Reeve (@JackReeveTNC) April 6, 2021
Has brought through 11 players from the academy for debuts since he joined.
Is going to get us promoted from the Championship twice.
Has developed the best football we've ever seen.
Still finds a way to improve players after a 7-0 win.
There's only one Daniel Farke #ncfc pic.twitter.com/2L23skD1J4
— Canary Cast (@CastCanary) April 7, 2021
Norwich knew they had a special coach in Farke and kept him on despite losing millions through relegation. While the book is still out on whether Stephen Kenny has the managerial nous to make it international football, it's hugely encouraging to know that Omobamidele and Adam Idah, two of Ireland's brightest prospects, are learning the game at the hands of the German.
As the song goes, things can only get better.