Paddy Davitt: Boldness must be harnessed by Farke

Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke unveiled a change of approach at Sheffield United 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke unveiled a change of approach at Sheffield United Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Defeat to Sheffield United might just have provided clues to a shift in Daniel Farke’s thinking for the Premier League end game.

The City chief should by now be well used to a forensic analysis of every move he makes. Especially on a matchday.

From the starting line up reveal an hour before kick-off to his tactical approach once the action gets underway to his apparent reluctance to twist often enough or soon enough when it comes to substitutions, according to his harshest detractors.

That latter point is as much perception as hard evidence, if you really study City's Premier League labours.

But to extrapolate such as somehow proof Farke has become too rigid, too inflexible in his thinking - once the top flight grind sapped the optimism and dulled the belief - is plain wrong.

Norwich's Championship title win owed everything to the bravery of a head coach willing to throw Max Aarons into the heat of an East Anglian derby, and keep him there.

Or first package Ben Godfrey as a centre back of some promise - despite a season long spell at Shrewsbury as a holding midfielder - and then keep him at the heart of his backline when both Timm Klose and Grant Hanley were available down the stretch.

Go back even further to Farke's first tour in England, and young men like Jamal Lewis and James Maddison owe a huge debt to a head coach who was not simply willing to espouse the virtues of youth but hang his future career prospects at Carrow Road on the success of backing raw talent.

And providing the environment to allow them to flourish.

If Farke was slavishly wedded to a philosophy woven around technically-gifted midfielders he would not have reverted to the more pragmatic selections of Alex Tettey and Kenny McLean over the second part of this Premier League campaign.

A duo designed to offer more ballast, more protection and a combative edge in an area Farke publicly acknowledged in recent times City were too vulnerable.

We saw the latest glimpse of Farke's evolving thought process against the Blades.

Todd Cantwell made way at the interval, Josip Drmic arrived and Tettey was deployed in the anchor role of a midfield diamond. It was new, it was innovative, and it was proactive.

Chris Wilder admitted afterwards it had given Sheffield United plenty to think about on the resumption, particularly in the manner it helped occupy a defensive three so pivotal to the Blades' own attacking template.

It might not have brought any tangible reward on the day, thanks to Dean Henderson's agility, but with both Mario Vrancic and Adam Idah also introduced later in the second period it did illustrate yet again Farke is willing to veer from the tried and trusted.

Given City's declining goal output, typified by Teemu Pukki's woes over the second half of this season, that quest for a spark demands more blue sky thinking from Farke ahead of Southampton's visit to Norfolk.

Had injuries not ravaged Norwich's backline one can be sure we would have seen far more than a fleeting sight of the defensive three and wing backs approach Sheffield United have harnessed to such effect.

Farke's willingness to embrace change and embark on a radical path is what brought him to Norfolk in the first place.

In the fallow periods of a bruising debut season in the unforgiving Premier League, Farke's teams have looked predictable, ponderous and lightweight. But the signs at Bramall Lane in the second half perhaps suggested the head coach is willing to try and catch rivals off-balance.

Farke needs to be even bolder down the stretch than he exhibited at the interval last Saturday.

Whether it is personnel or formation Norwich need to change the narrative, or the current script has a depressingly gloomy air of finality.

Wilder was also right to claim the majority have already written off the Canaries.

If that is the case his old rival really has nothing to lose.

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