Paddy Davitt verdict: It felt so right. Now it feels so wrong as City’s allure fades
PUBLISHED: 18:48 12 July 2020 | UPDATED: 22:29 12 July 2020
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Among the many sad aspects woven around Norwich City’s Premier League relegation is the dents to the legacy of Daniel Farke and his title-winning squad.
Every single one of the starting line up who limply exited the top flight - officially against West Ham - were on the City Hall balcony taking the cheers of the assembled throng. And the Lord Mayor’s hat.
To engineer a Championship title win in the swashbuckling style moulded by Farke and Stuart Webber was, to quote the head coach, a genuine footballing miracle.
For the same actors to fail so graphically to produce a repeat in the much more exacting surroundings of the English top tier has unleashed inevitable waves of negativity.
The plan is wrong, the ownership model is wrong, the head coach is wrong, the recruitment approach is wrong. The players are the wrong fit for the Premier League.
All those strands were so right, so perfectly blended to catapult Norwich into the big time.
They cannot surely now all be wrong?
There is mitigation at every turn but palpably the Canaries have fallen a long way short where it mattered most. In the shop window.
Those diabolically desperate records they are now either claiming with each passing winless affair, or in danger of claiming, pile further criticism in Farke’s direction and those players under his stewardship.
City have a head coach unlike any other.
One who willingly stayed in the wake of an improbable promotion when, by his own recent words, there was more money to be earned elsewhere and clubs who could offer him perhaps better opportunities for success with better financial backing.
He stayed because he felt a debt to Webber and the club’s owners who had first enticed him to England. He also surely felt a loyalty to a group of players who performed above and beyond in the Championship.
That should not buy him endless credit, for all the ills of this instantly forgettable Premier League tour. But it is surely premature to question his suitability to lead the fightback?
Every public utterance in his three years at Carrow Road, every insight into the type of person and character he is, should convince even the doubters this is a man who has the best interests of Norwich City at heart.
Be in no doubt, Farke is a coach and man who would walk before he was pushed if he felt he could not rekindle the alchemy he produced in ample measures in the Football League.
He now needs better backing than he received in the transfer market 12 months ago. He also needs those above him in the chain of command to hold firm and resist inevitable offers for all of their best talent.
The brightest stars in the firmament may be under long contracts, but do not think that will insulate the Canaries from a summer of transfer turbulence.
Do that and Farke has a fighting chance. But there is a bigger imponderable in play now.
City fans will forever be in Farke’s debt for the magical ride he took them on to reach the Premier League.
But the dire output from his side since football resumed has left a feeling of simmering frustration just below the surface. Norwich will need to show there is no hangover when the real action resumes next season.
They have been here before as a club. Alex Neil was carried shoulder high at Wembley in May 2015.
Within two years he was gone; his team stale and tired and Neil himself seemingly carrying the scars of a first brush with the Premier League as a young coach.
That group also came down with huge expectations they could bounce back immediately.
We will only discover how much this season has taken out of Farke in due course. The man who could command packed stands with a wave of his arms must endure the same voyage of discovery as Neil has seemingly undertaken at Preston to rebuild his reputation. Many still hope he does not have to depart to do so.
It may get worse for Farke and his under-performing squad before it gets better with daunting trips to Chelsea and Manchester City, either side of a Burnley who will relish probing for fresh set piece vulnerability.
Then it will be over and all that will be left is the bald statistics telling the story of a chapter that can only be remembered for the wrong reasons.
Farke, Webber and the board must ensure it is not an episode that defines this era.