Chris Goreham: Norwich City are proving well adjusted to ‘Farke Life’
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If there’s one song Norwich City supporters should be word perfect on by this stage of the season, other then On The Ball City, it must be Blur’s ‘Parklife’.
The Britpop classic has been adapted at Carrow Road and turned into ‘Farke Life’ in tribute to the German head coach who is beginning to make his mark on The Championship.
The opening line of that anthem was going round in my head after watching Nelson Oliveira’s goal drought continue at Pride Park.
“Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as” is yelled by the actor Phil Daniels before the rest of The Blurs chime in with “Parklife”.
It may have been a big part of the soundtrack to my youth on the sticky dance floor of the Waterfront and other Norwich clubs that would allow anyone in who didn’t want to have to dress in anything less comfortable than a band t-shirt, jeans and trainers for a Saturday night on the town but I have never fully understood what that famous opening line actually means.
What I do know is that confidence is certainly not a commodity being enjoyed by Oliveira at the moment.
That penalty, which was saved by Scott Carson just before half-time at Derby, was hit with all the conviction of a striker who has now gone 10 games without a goal.
“Take him off” screamed some on social media at half-time in a Twitter storm of frustration which would have been justified if football was as black and white as Derby County’s kit. But it isn’t.
It is entirely possible for a striker to contribute positively to a game without scoring a goal.
I understand that forward players will be mainly judged by the number of times they put the ball into the net but if Oliveira was capable of consistently delivering the form of the early part of his Canary career he probably wouldn’t be playing in the Championship.
A goal down at half-time away from home against a team flying high in the table and unbeaten in 11 games having missed a penalty is the sort of situation that can develop into 3-0 and worse. But this Norwich City team is beginning to seriously believe in itself.
Oliveira didn’t spend the second half sulking, he went about his business well enough to win a second penalty. James Maddison took it and scored. Now there’s a man for whom confidence is definitely not a problem at the moment.
Stuart Webber described Norwich City’s chances of a top-six finish as “improbable but not impossible” in an interview last week. A bit of me wishes it was November rather than February. If City had found this sort of rhythm a little earlier in the season they would be in with a real chance of cracking the top six.
It can’t be a coincidence that the Canaries’ most consistent run of form this season has come at a time when the number of midweek matches has dramatically reduced.
The relentless nature of the opening weeks of a first Championship season gave Daniel Farke little time on the training pitch to build a bond with his squad and give them confidence in his plans. They were up against it at Pride Park but at no point did panic set in.
Slowly but surely things are heading in the right direction. There may be one or two bumps in the road but at least it feels like we’re all finally, as Blur would say, going hand-in-hand through our Farke Life.
Cambridge United have had more of an impact on Norwich City’s season than a League Two side has any right to.
I remember sitting at The Abbey Stadium on a wet July day providing updates on the Canaries pre-season friendly while listening to updates of Norfolk’s own Alfie Hewett winning the wheelchair doubles title at Wimbledon. The afternoon ended up being most notable for Alex Pritchard and Timm Klose, two key Norwich players, being injured and missing the early skirmishes of The Championship season as a result.
There is clearly no hard feelings between the clubs for those robust challenges because Norwich have entrusted one of their young talents, midfielder Adam Phillips, to them for the rest of the season.
But Cambridge United is clearly a club that doesn’t take prisoners. Their official Twitter account was extraordinary on Friday night as it covered their goalless draw with Lincoln City. At 21:33 it was 0-0 and the account announced there would be five minutes of injury time. At 21:38, sure enough, the final whistle was confirmed on what was probably not a thrilling goalless draw. Just two minutes later, at 21:40, the club tweeted that manager Shaun Derry had left the club ‘by mutual consent’.
They hadn’t even lost the game and Derry had been dismissed in the time it took for him to get from the bench to the dressing room!
One assumes that his treatment wasn’t quite as brutal as that harsh Twitter timeline suggests. It would be a fair assumption Derry knew what was coming before the game and perhaps even earlier in the week and yet he agreed to take the team for that Lincoln clash and had to see out his last few hours as manager in the freezing cold watching a nil-nil draw. We’ve all watched end of season matches that have to be played even after relegation or promotion issues have been decided but poor old Derry was forced to take flogging a dead horse to a new level.
I haven’t seen enough of Phillips to know whether he has a realistic chance of becoming a Norwich City first team regular in the near future but after seeing Cambridge United deal with Klose, Pritchard and now Derry I have a feeling that if young Phillips can survive the experience he will return to Norfolk significantly tougher.