David Hannant: City’s patience is starting to pay off big time
PUBLISHED: 08:10 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:31 25 October 2018
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Patience is a virtue, virtue is a grace and Grace is a little girl who wouldn’t wash her face - one of my childhood favourite authors wrote.
It’s one that has always stuck with me - not that I’m always the most patient person around.
In our current lickedy-split world of social media, Internet and technology it is something that is far less abundant in this day and age. And this is certainly no different in the beautiful game.
It probably ties in with the sheer vast amount of cash flow in the game that patience is probably at an all time low in football.
With rich owners, wealthy board members and fans paying more for tickets than ever before, there is such a strive for success, sooner rather than later. Keeping on the children’s fiction theme, there’s more than a pinch of Veruca Salt about the game.
It’s almost entirely down to this that football clubs these days tend to go through managers at a similar rate to which Henry VIII went through wives.
Would it surprise you to hear that Daniel Farke is the seventh longest-serving boss in the Championship? Probably not.
However, at least at the moment, Norwich City feels different - and I firmly believe the just rewards for this are being felt.
It honestly doesn’t seem too long ago that message boards, forums and Twitter feeds were bulging with calls for the German’s head.
I never quite reached that level, but I was beginning to worry.
However, at risk of planting the kiss of death firmly on the club’s lips, things appear to be clicking.
And to what do we owe this? That p word again -patience.
Last season wasn’t particularly great - bottom half, below Ipswich, a plethora of average showings and a handful of capitulations.
For a club with Premier League aspirations - which we have - frankly, it wasn’t good enough.
How many clubs of a similar stature would have pulled the trigger at several points over that campaign. Probably quite a few.
Likewise, after the sizably average set of results City delivered in August.
Leeds probably would have sacked Farke nine or ten times last season alone.
However, I’m proud of the fact Norwich City are not Leeds, or anyone else for that matter.
So, so many aspects of City’s form in recent weeks can be put down to patience - and I am not solely talking about the board being less trigger happy than some of their counterparts.
When Daniel Farke arrived at the club he made his vision for the style of football clear - beautiful, passing football.
To be able to pull this off, you need much more than just a bunch of talented players.
Even a side cobbled of a collection of some of history’s greatest passers - say a midfield of Johan Cruyff, Xabi Alonso, Andrea Pirlo and David Beckham - would not necessarily produce champagne football right away.
There is so much more to it than technical ability - it’s knowing your team-mate. Knowing the way they move, what they might do next, where they’re heading.
This doesn’t happen overnight - it takes patience.
The fluid move that almost led to Onel Hernandez equalising away at Forest epitomised this. I’ve watched that back dozens of more times than the two goals that won City the game.
What we’ve seen lately, is a group of players who look in sync.
And within this group, several individuals who are benefiting from the presence of the p word.
At the start of the campaign, Tim Krul looked out of practice. Now, he looks assured and hasn’t conceded more than one goal in a game since August. Patience.
Last season, nobody really knew what Marco Stiepermann was. This season, he’s adjusted, found his feet, found his role and is a real key player. Patience.
Todd Cantwell is growing with every game and is beginning to look like the heir apparent to James Maddison. Patience.
Even finding the right role for Moritz Leitner, a player everybody has such great expectations for can be put down to it. Patience.
I could go on, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going - it is all down to having patience, which many clubs lack.
I remember at this point last season feeling as though it was the moment things were clicking into place under Daniel Farke. What followed was a wretched run.
This time though, ever the optimist, I don’t really see this happening.
The grafted win after going behind early to Forest tells me something has changed.
Lots has been said so far about the play-offs, but I honestly believe we could even be looking beyond.
And if my instinct is on point (it often isn’t) then it’s a just reward for City showing such - you guessed it - patience.
What value for Mo-ney
If the reported £1.3m City paid for Mo Leitner is on the money, the German may well go down in history as the club’s biggest ever bargain.
We’ve had a few steals in the past - Hucks, Wes and Holty all for less than a million - but Leitner is starting to look up there with the best of them.
The man is an absolute Rolls Royce of a player - he glides around the pitch, never looks flustered on the ball and really gets things moving.
Quite how a man of his talent was available for such a snip, I will never know.
The question this begs, is just how much would he have cost were he English?
You only have to look at the fact that City paid more than double this for a teenaged James Maddison to see what value he was - although obviously Madders was bit of a bargain himself.
Every transfer has its own story and its own unique set of circumstances, but it does make the mind boggle.
So instead of comparing, let’s just revel in the fact we’ve picked up the league’s best player in an absolute steal.
Todd is looking the part
It’s hard not to be impressed with Todd Cantwell at the moment.
We all love the story of a local lad done good and as a consequence can sometimes be a little quick to decide someone is the next big thing.
For this reason, I’ve found myself being a little cautious with the Dereham lad.
However, in recent weeks he really has started to shine.
As I said in the main part of this piece, he’s growing with every game. His touch is sublime, his reading of the game continues to improve and it’s almost getting to the point where it’s more of a surprise if he doesn’t start.
In fact, his form is starting to remind me of how James Maddison looked when he first broke into the team.
The one difference between the two youngsters is the eye for goal City’s first £20m man had. If Cantwell can add that to his game it will be almost as if Madders never left.
And yes, I appreciate the irony of saying that after warning about not getting too carried away over the local lad done good angle!