Have Norwich City finally got a Plan B?
PUBLISHED: 11:12 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:12 11 September 2020
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“He’s got no Plan B” – so often the words uttered by fans when results aren’t going their way. For Norwich, that accusation precedes Daniel Farke as the same words were used for Alex Neil, Chris Hughton and countless managers before them.
It’s almost the first stage of fans losing their patience with the manager.
No Plan B then transitions to “hasn’t got a clue” which then finally moves to “he’s gotta go”.
At the business end of last season, it was difficult for even the most ardent Farke supporter to find a positive spin on each performance, so it was easy to see why phase one, “no Plan B”, had begun.
Daniel Farke is part of the new, pragmatic, ‘it’s a philosophy’ wave of managers who stick by their principles until it works. And it did. The previous Championship season brought some of the best football at Carrow Road in recent memory. There’s no reason why those levels can’t be reached again this coming season.
It was in those final, post-lockdown fixtures where the issues with Farke’s system were highlighted. There was an innate predictability in the game plan that Premier League teams found it all too easy to expose. Even as a fan watching the games on the television, you could guess almost pass for pass where the ball was heading, where we were about to lose the ball and where we were playing ourselves into trouble.
If the fans could see it, what chance were we giving ourselves against the best football teams in the country?
Teemu Pukki stood out as an increasingly forlorn figure because the chances simply dried up at the top end of the pitch. Josip Drmic was brought in as a like-for-like replacement, but with the team’s confidence completely eradicated, I’m not sure any striker would have scored in those performances.
So step forward Jordan Hugill, perhaps the first sign of Farke learning from past mistakes and adding an extra dimension to our squad.
At a reported £3m plus add-ons, on paper it looks to be a good value signing. Hugill, now 28, had been pushed out on loan since signing for West Ham so this may be his big opportunity to reach the Premier League before the chance passes him by.
Watching him play, Hugill looks like a strong, competitive player, very much of Grant Holt’s ilk, with extra mobility and a touch of finesse with his finishing. The idea of a fiery, bustling centre-forward that gets on the end of long balls and crosses doesn’t fit at all with the way Farke sets his teams up, so it will be interesting to see how Hugill will be utilised next season.
Will he be thrown on in the 80th minute when we need a goal, supported with balls fired into the box? Or, will Farke opt to continue with the same style of football, and coach him to look for through-balls in the same style as Pukki?
With the talent in our squad, at this level we should be competitive in the top half, but the Championship brings its own challenges in that it’s fast, frantic and any team can pull off a result.
There will be periods in most fixtures where a different approach is required and having options either on the pitch or on the bench like Hugill should be a big boost for Norwich.
I can’t see Hugill getting more than his 13 league goals last season with QPR, because Pukki will be our leading man and Adam Idah will also be pushing for game time. However, the goals he will hopefully contribute could be crucial in delivering points which will put us in a strong position at the end of the season.
Whether it works or doesn’t work, it does look like Norwich are entering the season with a Plan B at the ready. If it doesn’t work, maybe “he’s got no Plan C” could be the next thing...