Matt Howman: Is Daniel Farke able to pass the toughest test of the lot?

City defender Ben Godfrey has a vital role to play in the Premier League 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City defender Ben Godfrey has a vital role to play in the Premier League Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Regardless of any transfer activity that happens ahead of the window 'slamming shut' on Thursday afternoon, Daniel Farke will be heading into this season with perhaps the most difficult task of any team in the division.

Pink Un Fan Zone columnist Matt HowmanPink Un Fan Zone columnist Matt Howman

Keeping Norwich in a position of safety next season will undoubtedly require all of his tactical nous, every marginal gain he can mastermind and possibly a small dose of luck along the way.

During the summer, Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber have sensibly strengthened the team with the resources they had available; two loanees, a free signing and a cheap acquisition in Sam Byram. However, without the freedom of an unlimited transfer budget there will be plenty of targets he simply could not afford to bring in.

Behind the scenes I wonder if Farke privately feels we could have done with perhaps a player or two to strengthen the squad further. Any outsider looking in on the business Norwich have done this summer would immediately jump to the conclusion that the club have under-prepared for the forthcoming season. However, we know how shrewd the recruitment has been so far under his tenure, which is why we can trust that the backroom staff have made the most of what money they had available and that Farke can embed them within his system as quickly as possible.

So much of our success last season was based on a team working together tirelessly, playing for each other and remaining disciplined to Farke's game plan throughout the 90, 94 minutes of a match. The challenge now for Farke is to take that into an unforgiving division, starting with a baptism of fire away at Anfield on Friday night.

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There will be a number of adjustments that the players, the fans and Farke will have to embrace. It's unlikely Norwich will be able to dominate possession with the same guile as in the Championship. It's equally unlikely our forwards will be exposed to the same number of opportunities they had last season, so in order to survive each and every player will need to up their game and do their bit for the team.

Looking across the squad there are going to be key names that Farke will be banking on to help execute his plans for next season. Ben Godfrey is going to be instrumental in how we play out from the back - his presence in the back-line and his composure to play out is going to be integral.

Similarly, whoever sits in the holding roles in Farke's preferred formation will be equally important. Privately, he will probably be wishing we had James Maddison going into this season; he had an uncanny ability to control and dictate the tempo of a match, without either a Maddison or a Wes Hoolahan there's a big gap that City are yet to fill.

The biggest challenge I see Farke facing is coaching his side to defend against Premier League sides like Wolves and Manchester City that play in unconventional pockets across the pitch, and at a pace above what we would have seen in the Championship.

Both Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis looked completely comfortable playing at a Championship level, but facing the likes of Son Heung-min, Diogo Jota, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling … our wide midfielders will have to dig in and track back to help defend, which will definitely put our fitness and conditioning coaches to the test.

The Premier League is becoming tougher every season for promoted clubs to compete as the teams in the division are edging away every year from the other 72 football league clubs in terms of revenue and purchasing power in the transfer market.

So can Farke help Norwich survive the Premier League? Put on the spot I would have no hesitation to say I am 100pc confident Norwich would struggle to find a smarter duo in Webber and Farke to run the club at this moment in time, and if we don't manage to stay up it won't be for the want of intensive planning, intelligent game plans and a lot of desire throughout the club.

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