David Freezer: Going ‘full Farke’ can wait for City – the Championship season is a marathon, not a sprint
Let’s get this show on the road – but remember, the Championship is a marathon, not a sprint.
Those are similar sentiments many of the 7,000 entrants will be reminding themselves of when braving the heat and hills of Run Norwich tomorrow morning, but will Canaries fans also be thinking along those lines?
For many managers – or head coaches – the opening day is about calming their players. Much like a derby day, when so much pre-match hype pushes excitement to fever pitch, it’s about those who can think clearly under pressure in the heat of the moment.
In my first job as a reporter covering Scunthorpe United that was a phrase Nigel Adkins used to drum into fans and supporters, to ‘think clearly under pressure’, or TCup to use his preferred easy-to-remember acronym.
For Daniel Farke and his squad that is likely to be particularly prevalent at St Andrew’s today, where the build-up to the game has been dominated by financial problems, bringing transfer restrictions from the EFL.
Just one player has been signed by Garry Monk so far this summer and Danish left-back Kristian Pedersen has only had his registration approved for the new season in the last couple of days, despite signing from Union Berlin for around £2m back in June.
All of that is on top of the Blues narrowly avoiding relegation in the last two seasons, Monk taking over a team City had already done the double over in March of last season and steering them five points clear of the drop zone.
For the Canaries that offers an opportunity. Get the hosts on the back foot early on and that uncertainty swirling around the home fans could soon turn to anger. However, concede an early goal and that pent-up frustration among the home support could well spark an adrenalin surge which adds fuel to the fire for Monk’s team.
City take a new-look squad which contains some tantalising attacking additions which have raised hopes of a more consistent attacking threat, after seeing the profligate Nelson Oliveira and Josh Murphy waste so many chances last season.
From what we have seen from Farke in pre-season it looks like the temptation of a 4-1-4-1 formation is certainly playing on his mind. Patience could well be a virtue before going ‘full Farke’ though.
I’ll head towards kick-off feeling much more confident of a good start to the season if the first formation of the new campaign includes two central midfielders though, one with a defensive focus.
A reminder of the Alex Tettey stats from last season. With the combative midfielder starting, City lost just three of 21 Championship games, winning 10 and drawing eight. Without him they lost 13 and won just five of 25 games.
As much as I rate Tettey, I don’t think this was purely on his shoulders but also a nod to including a defensive presence in the midfield. Tom Trybull is a more of a ball-playing quarterback, as is Mario Vrancic – when he returns to fitness – and Mo Leitner is not physical enough.
While Tettey may only be fit enough for the bench after chickenpox restricted him to just 45 minutes of pre-season, Farke is boosted by Louis Thompson’s impressive return to form and fitness and Ben Godfrey’s return from an excellent loan season as a holding midfielder at Shrewsbury.
For me the opening day is as much about looking solid and hard to beat, particularly in an away game, as it is a new team trying to show what they can do straight away. Drawing at Birmingham on the opening day would certainly be preferable to a defeat with a performance lacking cohesion. If there’s no Tettey, I hope Thompson or Godfrey get the nod.
I’m also looking to see that steely glint we’ve seen in Farke’s eyes translate into a tough streak in his side. City’s boss directed his fury at a referee during the defeat to Union Berlin during pre-season and laid down the law to his players after the sloppy defeat at Charlton last weekend.
So just as sportsdesk team-mate Michael Bailey and I must remember when dashing back from Birmingham tonight, to ensure we get a decent night’s rest ahead of tomorrow morning’s Run Norwich race: it’s a 10K, not a sprint.
However, having run the race a couple of times before, I’m confident a decent start could see me improve on last year’s finish – something Farke will no doubt be able to relate to.
My team for today (4-2-3-1): Krul; Marshall, Hanley, Klose, Husband; Thompson, Trybull; Hernandez, Pukki, McLean; Rhodes
Jones is brave to join Barton
His time at Norwich City may already have been forgotten about but former Canaries keeper Paul Jones has taken a brave next step in his career.
The man who made just one appearance for City during the past two seasons has decided to join the Joey Barton revolution at Fleetwood Town.
A League One move it may be for the former Exeter and Crawley keeper but getting involved with Barton’s first attempt at management – one sure to end in chaos – suggests he had few options.
Having sat on the bench at Exeter while on loan during the second half of last season and not even being mentioned among the players released by Norwich, here’s hoping the 32-year-old finally gets some game-time in Lancashire.
Why anyone would want to play for Barton is beyond me though. How can players respect a man with such an infamous list of misdemeanours on and off the pitch? Jones becomes the former Manchester City midfielder’s 10th signing of the summer – let’s just hope he knows what he’s signed up for.
Time to move up the list
Most press releases from betting companies hoping for a free plug are swiftly deleted from my email inbox.
Credit to bookmakers.tv this week though for sending me a study which actually caught my attention – although may deflate some of the opening-day optimism among Canaries fans.
The study reviewed the results of each of England’s 92 Premier League and Football League clubs during their opening day matches over the last decade and found Norwich are tied as the 90th worst team on the first day of the season in that 10 years.
One win and three draws on the last 10 opening days ties the Canaries with Stoke and Crewe, with only Barnsley (five points) and Bristol Rovers (four) achieving fewer.
Unfortunately it also highlighted that the 26 goals conceded by City on the opening day in that time is the worst in the country. The best team, little surprise, is Manchester City with eight wins and a draw. Let’s hope Norwich have moved up that list by 5pm today.