David Freezer: Some City fans really need to ‘let it go’
I’m loathe to kick-off my first column of the season like this, as I’m not really that keen on Disney films, but it seems some Norwich City fans may need to take inspiration from that annoying song from Frozen and ‘let it go’.
The Canaries technically suffered their 12th consecutive defeat in all competitions at Luton last weekend, to extend a club record which had previously only stood at seven matches.
The reaction from a substantial amount of City fans suggests the pain of that miserable run has cut too deep, that frustrations are too raw and that there is almost no patience remaining for giving Daniel Farke a fair crack at turning things around.
Which is hardly a helpful mood to be starting the season with, is it?
Comments like “what other manager would survive 12 losses?” or “I’ll give him 10 games” are only going to add to the pressure that Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber are feeling ahead of today’s opener at Huddersfield.
That pent up anger comes despite the unprecedented, stressful and strange circumstances during which that horrible 12-game streak has unfolded.
It started back on March 7 with a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United. That was a disappointing setback after hopes had been raised by a 1-0 home win over Leicester and by knocking Tottenham out of the FA Cup on penalties. Yet there was no need to get too upset about a narrow loss to a Blades team who sat seventh and just five points adrift of the Champions League places after the battle at Bramall Lane.
Then came a three-month suspension that was extremely tricky for City to navigate, both in financial, football and logistical terms.
So when they slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Southampton when the season finally resumed behind closed doors in June, without fans to drive them on, it really hurt Farke and his players.
Immediately the Canaries knew their survival chances looked bleak, particularly as they resumed without half of the defence, with Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmermann and Sam Byram all unavailable and Timm Klose dropped straight into the deep end after a serious injury.
The 1-0 home defeat to Everton a few days later was pretty much the killer blow. Further energy was drained by the cruel defeat to Manchester United in the 118th minute of an FA Cup quarter-final which should have been a memorable Carrow Road occasion.
Yes, what unfolded after that was miserable, much has already been said about that. With hindsight though, was it surprising? A young and inexperienced team folded under the pressure, knowing that with trips to Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City still to come, even a revival of home form was highly unlikely to be enough.
Add to the mix just a three-week break before returning to pre-season, fewer friendlies to prepare and then having to play the first round of the League Cup against a Championship rival without 13 players due to international duty, two because of suspension and four due to injuries.
To throw anger Farke’s way after all of that seems rather unfair - it’s time for a fresh start.
What’s the best possible outcome of this season? It’s for the Championship title to be won again, with the ‘Farkeball’ style revived but with a bit more defensive resilience, for Teemu Pukki to start scoring goals again and for Farke to be leading some celebratory waves once supporters are finally able to attend matches again.
That would be special, that would be worth showing patience for. To help aid that recovery, a clean slate and memories of just how enjoyable 2018-19 was are required.
No one will be more acutely aware than Farke that his position will be under threat if City are not in the promotion mix once a decent chunk of games have been played.
We all saw how big the step up to Premier League standards is and subsequently, that means those that drop down return to the Championship with a target on their backs and with their rivals desperate to knock them down a peg or too.
Webber and Farke have worked swiftly to shift the doom and gloom by bringing in a host of new players, to move on, to turn the page. Even if that doesn’t work quickly, City will stand by their man as long as possible. Let’s not forget that only one of the first six games of 2018-19 was a win.
Whether the revamp will work is difficult to predict and I’m not one for being positive for the sake of it - but for now, some people just need to ‘let it go’.