Matt Howman: Daniel Farke's masterplan could be coming together for Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 14:00 19 September 2017
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It was Saturday evening when news broke that Harry Redknapp has parted company with Birmingham following a string of poor results.
Unsurprisingly, Redknapp made wholesale changes to his squad in the transfer window and it looks like his picks might fall short of what is required to stay in the division.
One of the last in a dying breed of football managers. Actually, football managers... are there any left?
The stereotypical image of a football manager is the man who runs the club from top to bottom; picks the team, takes charge of transfers, training and who makes the tea. That might still ring true for the local outfits but top-level clubs have phased that out.
You’re a head coach now, Harry.
Daniel Farke is part of football’s new-breed. He fits within a structure. Farke gives the impression he lives and breathes stats and analysis, taking in the hard numbers and using that to make decisions on the pitch. His role fits within a wider team of analysts, coaches, sporting directors, sports scientists. Is he still an integral part of the operation? For sure.
Take the summer as an example. Our transfer activity was driven by a need to reduce costs and when you look at our squad list now compared three months ago, there will have been a big saving on the wage bill. That aside, now our new players are beginning to settle within the squad it looks like transfers are now being made for the right reasons.
Stuart Webber was clear that transfer decisions will be made as a collective but Farke will have the final say on players.
Tom Trybull is fast emerging as an important signing for Farke.
It’s a signing like this where data, statistics and scouting allows the club to pick up players at a bargain (and in this case, free).
In his position it’s the number of times he picks the ball up and makes successful short, medium and long passes. How often he tackles, how much distance he covers – it’s not a Redknapp approach of just liking the look of a player anymore.
Marco Stiepermann is another player who looked to have a shaky start but his ability to drive forward and get involved in attacking plays without being as expensive as Robbie Brady or Mitchell Dijks looks to be another clever signing.
The biggest challenge for the club however is managing expectation. These players are untested at this level so there is still an element of gambling on their success.
Fans are notoriously fickle when it comes to player judgement anyway.
Yanic Wildschut was a waste of money in my book until about twenty-five past three on Saturday, I love him now. There’s no doubt that if he makes poor decisions early on in the next game I’ll be back on his case, that’s just how it is.
While I haven’t always agreed with Farke’s squad selections, my opinion and the opinion of the 26,000 other fans going to watch the game is just that, an opinion.
I’m confident though that Farke is deliberating his approach to each game and using a wealth of data to make those decisions.
There will be a lot of learning curves in these early games as he has to build a knowledge of the league to help blend the subjectives with the statistics.
If Farke sticks to his guns and keeps picking teams based on the style of play he believes in then Norwich should be in a good place in six months time.
I felt towards the end Alex Neil changed his approach too much, to the point he didn’t have the backing of the players anymore.
So while we aren’t sitting top and we’re not blowing teams out of the water, I’m happy for Norwich to keep developing these players, keep under the radar and then be ready to launch a challenge for a play-off spot towards the back end of the season.