Paddy Davitt: Boring Norwich City? Yes please
PUBLISHED: 11:49 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:49 08 August 2018
Boring at first glance sounds a fairly unappetising aim for Norwich City’s Championship labours.
But in the context of a predictability and a monotony of approach, the Canaries should now strive for the consistency that eluded them last season.
Christoph Zimmermann spoke about that on a personal performance level as he held court at the Community Sports Foundation’s latest week-long soccer school, when he visited Carrow Park on Tuesday morning.
Zimmermann enjoyed a dizzying ascent from the lower branches of German regional football to a Championship mainstay in less than 12 months.
A new longer term contract underlined his rate of progress yet Zimmermann retains a healthy degree of self-awareness regarding his own limitations and his jagged form line since being thrust into the spotlight.
Flattening the peaks and troughs is a major aim for the thoughtful 25-year-old second time around.
Farke could do worse than take the same objective and use it as his mission statement for the entire squad.
Norwich were good in spells and poor in others far too often last season.
Defensively resolute at times but too often fitful in attacking output.
Capable of mixing it with some of the leading lights both in league and cup yet also bullied out of their stride against those who bridged the gap in technical ability with honest endeavour.
If there is a predictability to Onel Hernandez’s great leap forward, in terms of his goals and assists, there is beauty in such productivity.
If Jordan Rhodes arrives on the edge of crosses with the cunning of a penalty box predator and the ability to lose ball-watching defenders, then Norwich will be considerably better off in the goals for column.
If Grant Hanley, Timm Klose and Zimmermann can form an imposing barrier in front of Tim Krul, then the pre-conditions exist to improve on that tame mid-table league placing during Farke’s debut tour.
James Maddison was perhaps the only player under his charge who harnessed such routine consistency in a season that set him apart from his team mates and earned him that mega-money move to Leicester City.
Norwich need more to step up now.
Stuart Webber spoke about the danger of setting limitations or making predictions on the eve of the weekend’s opening league to Birmingham City.
But there was a caveat that also resonated; 14th will not be anywhere near good enough, after limiting the potential negative drag from departures and embellishing the club’s recruitment drive with a core of new faces who know what the English game is all about.
Add a layer of familiarity that Zimmermann, and his peers who joined this time last summer must now bring, and the quest for a consistency in performance across the board appears within the head coach’s grasp.
This being football nothing is ever that straightforward.
There will be injuries and suspensions at inopportune moments. There may still be unexpected turbulence from the final weeks of an elongated transfer window.
But if Norwich fans can head to Carrow Road every other weekend knowing what to expect on a regular basis that is a cause for optimism.
The cynics may contest that is no different to last time around, when a fruitless search for goals and at times entertainment was the staple diet on home soil.
Webber is astute enough to know the testing terrain he and Farke inherited is now transforming into the road map both are shaping and moulding to plot the way ahead.
Each fresh transfer window is another chance to put their own stamp on proceedings and further deal with the mistakes of the past.
But ultimately it is not the balance sheet but the football pitch they can expect to be judged.
And a boring campaign of consistency and good habits, of goals and assists from midfielders, and a frontman who is the finished article at this level, a season where residual issues that blighted the previous renewal have been addressed, would indeed constitute progress.