Opinion: Patience is a virtue for Norwich City fans
PUBLISHED: 13:00 16 August 2017
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Norwich City fans have seen enough false dawns over the years, so it's understandable that there are a number of supporters who are sceptical about the club moving in such a bold new direction.
Never before in the history of the club have we seen such an outright change in structure and strategy – the appointment of Stuart Webber as sporting director and his recruitment of an (until recently) almost completely unknown German head coach to oversee the Canaries’ new masterplan on the field has been met with some puzzlement and even worry from sections of the loyal Canaries support.
In saying that, just as many people, prior to Sunday’s defeat by Sunderland and buoyed by the spirited fightback at Craven Cottage, seemed like they had chosen to embrace the club’s new strategy. The walk to the ground where thousands of supporters swelled to show their love for the men in yellow, proved that hope does exist that the new man can haul the Canaries out of the Championship and back up to the promised land.
That’s why it was massively disappointing for me, sitting in the stand, to hear yelps of impatience, howls of derision directed at the dugout and the players, and even boos from some sections of the support after an albeit disappointing first home result of the season.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons that Farke should be questioned – not starting Wes Hoolahan or Nelson Oliveira (politics aside); choosing to play three central defenders rather than another attacking player in midfield; waiting so long to make his first substitution – to name but a few, and every paying supporter has the right to do that.
But for some fans to be losing patience with the new regime after just three competitive games is bordering on lunacy. A vast number of new recruits have been brought in who are still adapting to a new country, in many cases, and there has already been a sea change in the type of football that Norwich City are trying to play.
In fact, for the change in style to be so discernible after only a few weeks’ work in pre-season is testament to the work that Farke and his coaching staff have done to implement their methods and educate the players in the way that he wants them to play.
No doubt it was frustrating to see Norwich have the stuffing knocked out of them by a goal that resulted from a long ball straight down the throat of the defence, and then by reacting sluggishly at set-pieces. This was a movie we saw so many times last season.
But Farke’s Dortmund II team conceded just 25 goals in 34 league games last season so there is plenty of evidence to suggest that he may well be able to sort out the defensive woes, given a little time.
And in terms of the style with the ball, some of the football Norwich City have played in spells of each competitive game since the German took charge has been pretty scintillating. One-touch stuff which will suit some of the gifted technicians we have in our squad and, if it all comes together consistently, we will be the best footballing side in the division by a distance.
More than that, it’s the type of football which will give Norwich City a far better chance of staying in the Premier League if we were to go up.
Shouts of ‘stop tip-tapping it around and get in the box’ and the like are not helpful to a team which is trying to adopt an entirely new playing philosophy. I tweeted after the weekend’s game that the Carrow Road crowd need to learn patience and I stand by that.
A number of fans argued with me and said that they have been patient with the board and the team over many years and whilst I can see that is a fair point, I think they misunderstood where I was coming from. I meant they need to learn patience in terms of the type of football we play.
The first long ball into the channel, hit in hope rather than expectation, was in the final quarter of Sunday’s game. And against Fulham, staying patient and keeping playing our football was what yielded a valuable equaliser at a ground where the Canaries always struggle.
And that’s where fans will need to learn to embrace change. I very much doubt that Daniel Farke will ever shove a big man up front, as Steve Bruce did with Christopher Samba for Villa recently, and just lump balls into him.
Stuart Webber said he was going to bring in a coach who would play the type of football he’d like to go and see himself. If the early signs are anything to go by, then that style will be very pleasing on the eye.
Of course you can argue it is a results business and Norwich fans have become accustomed to Premier League football over the best part of the last decade. But maybe this new direction the club have gone in, and the style of play which is slowly being concocted, is designed at ensuring it is more than a stay of execution if we do make it back up to the top flight.
If that is the case, then it’s something that all Norwich City fans need to learn to buy into. Patience is a virtue, and it’s going to be needed this season. I suggest that all of the boo-boys give it a little time before rushing to judgment.