Fan Zone: Norwich must clear baggage of Project Restart

PUBLISHED: 19:51 27 July 2020 | UPDATED: 19:51 27 July 2020

Head coach Daniel Farke, Max Aarons and Christoph Zimmermann trudge off after the defeat by Burnley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Head coach Daniel Farke, Max Aarons and Christoph Zimmermann trudge off after the defeat by Burnley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Well, at least it’s finally all over. City fans can breathe a sigh of relief now that the curtains have finally been drawn on the disastrous, shambolic end to an already embarrassing season.

Ben Godfrey looks dejected after his own goal against Burnley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdBen Godfrey looks dejected after his own goal against Burnley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Although Manchester City were the lucky recipients of the final opportunity to give us a good kicking, it was Southampton, Brighton, Watford and West Ham before them that all enjoyed one of the easiest games of their season.

Norwich could muster only one measly league goal since the restart, barely offering teams a competitive game and even when relegation was confirmed, the team did not appear to have the ambition or the intent to play with the freedom and incisiveness that gave us the opportunity in the Premier League in the first place.

Confidence is always going to be elusive when a team is on a losing run, and now that streak continues into the summer break, Farke faces a challenge to rebuild anything that resembles a confident squad before heading into a new season.

It is, however, in a period like this that the fans have to remember what resources the club are working with, comparative to other teams in the league, what opportunities Farke is giving academy players, and that there is always next season to rebuild and go again.

Unfortunately, we don’t go back to the Championship with our heads held high. Rather, we creep back in sheepishly behind Watford and Bournemouth, hoping no one notices us on the way through.

Once the dust settles and games are underway again, fixtures coming thick and fast, fans will remember how great the Championship is. Although the Premier League is the holy grail which every club aims for, it’s a soulless, commercial entity which has sucked the life out of the game and replaced it with robotic refereeing, endless advertising and a pay to win structure.

But there’s still a lot of frustration. A lot of what could have been. It is difficult to find many positives when the club is in the worst losing streak in its history. Looking back across the season I’m still wondering why we persevered with zonal marking. Why did we set up in the same predictable 4-2-3-1 whether we were playing Liverpool at home or Burnley away? Why did we not learn from all the mistakes we made in the first half of the season? Instead, we replicated them time and time again until the season ended.

The Southampton game, I sat as every other tactically astute expert armchair fan does, with a bottle of beer and a bag of crisps, shouting at the TV that we kept beating a player, turning back and firing a pass back to Tim Krul. There didn’t appear to be any instruction for players to break the mould and maraud forward to create chances.

This continued against Everton, Arsenal and the rest of the remaining fixtures.

Everything we did since the restart resembled a training ground exercise and it missed the fans at Carrow Road roaring the team forward. A goal down against Chelsea, already down and playing only for pride, we sink back into our shell and pass the ball around without any purpose. It was embarrassing to watch each match unfold.

There needs to be an understanding into why the capitulation was so severe and so disastrous. As a club, you cannot go into any level playing the way Norwich did for the final nine games of the season, so there can be no hints of this period carried into next season, because the club will quickly find itself languishing towards the bottom as we did when Farke first took the reins.

This short break will give the club an opportunity to reinvigorate the squad. Whether players stay or go I tend not to worry about, because that’s the nature of the game. The only must is that the club needs to retain the players that want to give 100pc for Norwich City week in, week out. If a player doesn’t want to be there, no matter how good, they need to be shifted – as long as it’s for the right price.

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