David Freezer: Home improvements have played crucial role in Farkelife revival for Canaries
PUBLISHED: 07:30 08 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:00 08 December 2018
If there were three things that had to improve under Daniel Farke this season then more goals, sharper passing and home form were arguably right at the very top of his to-do list.
We’ve seen plenty of the first two and if Bolton get the beating they are owed at Carrow Road this afternoon, then that particular Canaries hat-trick may just be completed.
Last week’s 3-1 victory over Rotherham not only reinforced the character and calm of City’s squad to again come from behind, but also sealed four consecutive home wins on the bounce for the first time in the Farke era.
You don’t have to go back too far for the last time five leagues wins on the spin were enjoyed in NR1, as Alex Neil’s team managed it between August and October of 2016 when fresh from the Premier League. We all know what happened next.
While that period of the club’s history was pulled down by the weight of disappointment of a very avoidable top-flight relegation, matching that set of five consecutive home wins will continue the upward momentum which is being enjoyed at present.
In the entirety of the ‘transition’ season under Farke and Stuart Webber the Carrow Road faithful saw just 25 goals and eight wins in 23 Championship fixtures, racking up 32 points.
This season already, in just 10 matches, 17 goals and seven wins have filled the stadium with an air of rejuvenation.
To put that into context, Timm Klose’s dramatic equaliser against Ipswich was the 17th goal of last season, in February.
Ahead of West Brom’s home game with Aston Villa last night, City sat joint top of the home table with 21 points, tied with top-six rivals Leeds and – perhaps surprisingly – Wigan.
A point away from home is just as valuable in the league table but football supporters know full well that, in reality, for the feel of unity at a club, that is not the case.
Had just a couple of the home 0-0 draws with Burton, Bristol City, Nottingham Forest and, most pertinently, Bolton been turned into 1-0 wins then a top-half finish and closer proximity to the play-offs could have seen all connected with the Canaries head into this season with a bit more positivity.
Regardless, those who had kept the faith are being fully rewarded and Farke finally winning the manager of the month award for last month is the least City’s boss deserves for the fine job he has done so far this season.
Goals? 35 in 20 games, only Villa and West Brom have scored more.
Passing the ball more quickly? You only have to compare the atmosphere from last season to this at Carrow Road to realise the punters are far, far happier with the football on display.
Home form? Make it five on the spin against Bolton – to remain top of the table – and any remaining doubtabout the direction the club’s board decided to head down in March 2017 would surely be laughed out of the city.
Beating struggling Bolton would truly act as a signpost for how far the Canaries have progressed.
A reminder of February’s immensely frustrating goalless stalemate...
Norwich had 75 percent of possession and 18 attempts at goal. The Trotters didn’t have one shot on target – they parked the bus and held tight to the handbrake.
Fair play to Phil Parkinson, he did enough to keep Wanderers in the league, by two points, particularly when set against the club’s difficult financial situation and transfer restrictions as well.
But there is no doubt Farke and his players will be dead set on proving they will not be thwarted in such style ‘in their living room’ this season, as their head coach likes to describe it.
With fan groups urging everyone to bring out their yellow and green scarves to create a wall of colour as On the Ball City is roared out ahead of kick-off, it feels like a big day awaits, a potential turning point – the day hope starts turning to belief.
Where would five home wins on the spin sit in the history books though?
The club record is 12 on the bounce but that was across two Third Division South campaigns in 1952. The most in a season was 11 between September and January of the 2009-10 League One title-winning success.
Worthy of mention as well is the brighter days under Chris Hughton, when five consecutive Premier League home games were won in 2012 – including beating Arsenal and Manchester United.
Otherwise, in the second tier, it was 10 on the spin for the title winners of 1985-86 and eight for the champions of 2003-04.
We all know there’s a long way to go and that Bolton will make it difficult, but for those hot streaks to even be mentioned as context means Farke’s side must be moving in the right direction.
Curse? What curse?
It seems the ancient curse for the Championship manager of the month has ended.
Last month Steve McClaren celebrated his October win with a 2-0 victory at Ipswich after the international break, which was followed by two further wins.
Darren Moore won it for September and won his next match 4-1 at home to Reading and Marcelo Bielsa marked his August award with a 1-1 draw at Millwall, a result not to be sniffed at.
What about Norwich bosses?
Daniel Farke has joined Alex Neil and Nigel Worthington as a winner of the Championship award – with records of winners prior to the 2004 rebrand difficult to come by, having been given out since 1992.
Neil won in September 2016 and enjoyed a 3-1 home win over Rotherham next time out and drew 1-1 at home with Derby after his February 2015 success had been announced.
It was slightly different for Worthy, with his December 2005 award followed by an FA Cup third round tie against top-flight West Ham, losing 2-1 at home.
So let’s not worry about mythical curses and give Farke the praise he deserves.
• It’s that time of year...
No, not Christmas, not just yet – it’s FA Youth Cup time.
On Wednesday it’s a trip to Stoke-on-Trent for a third round tie against the U18s of League Two side Port Vale for the young Canaries.
The tie is being played at the 19,000 capacity Vale Park and tees up something of an unknown quantity for City, with Vale’s youngsters having lost 7-1 at Fleetwood in their last EFL Youth Alliance game.
If David Wright’s U18 Premier League team can avoid the banana skin then another away trip awaits, with the fourth round draw teeing up a long trip to Preston.
The Youth Cup may not be a competition which means too much to supporters of some clubs but as two-time winners there are only nine clubs who have lifted the trophy on more occasions than Norwich.
Last season was also an agonising miss of a semi-final for the likes of Max Aarons, Adam Idah and Ant Spyrou, losing 3-1 to Birmingham in the snow at Carrow Road – a third quarter-final in six years for the 2013 winners.
Good luck to the young lads!