Norwich City must learn the lessons of past relegations

PUBLISHED: 19:00 01 June 2020

Is Ben Godfrey a candidate for a central midfield role? Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Is Ben Godfrey a candidate for a central midfield role? Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Your Posts is a new project which give you the chance to have your say – Mike Taylor has some strong views on what Norwich City should do when they resume their fight against relegation.

It appears that finishing this season is now likely and the lads have an opportunity to save themselves – I hope they attack every game like it is a cup final because our last three relegations were absolutely pathetic.

These last nine games will define how I see both Daniel Farke and his players and I pray that DF adjusts his strategy to give the players the best chance possible. My biggest worry is that we play ‘safe’ and not change from 4-2-3-1, the formation that has left us sitting plum bottom of the league. To not change our strategy would be bitterly disappointing and will certainly trigger another meek surrender to relegation. We have nothing to lose by preparing for the season’s end with a formation that will be more attacking and I believe that 3-4-3 perfectly suits our squad.

Our wing-backs are brilliant for their age and experience and two of the three centre-backs pick themselves. We have a mini pre-season to have Timm Klose (Sean Raggett at a later date?) to train with Christoph Zimmerman and Grant Hanley which would free up Ben Godfrey for central midfield. Centrally, no other player matches Alex Tettey for discipline and the ability to break up play. Kenny McLean has the charisma, but can he change games? Mario Vrancic and Moritz Leitner may be more capable, but they do not project a warrior mentality. Therefore, I believe Godfrey ought to play with Tettey because of his power, athleticism and fearlessness. Godfrey has a hammer of a long-range shot too. We must understand the tactical significance of Tettey retiring next season and ensure his replacement is well embedded; would anyone (apart from DF) contest Godfrey is the most obvious successor? If Godfrey doesn’t get the nod, it has to be Vrancic. All day long.

In attack we lack a ‘central pivot’ but perhaps Josip Drmic ought to play centrally and Teemu Pukki enjoy the right side of a front three? I love Emi Buendia but we cannot play attackers that do not score goals: we neither need him in the box or we need a formation where he is central behind two goal scoring strikers.

Winger Onel Hernandez could be a major weapon in the run-in 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdWinger Onel Hernandez could be a major weapon in the run-in Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Our left side is formidable, with Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell combining with pace, skill and a clear understanding. There are options on the right flank.

What I hope we do not do is stick to a failed formula. Being blunt, our better technical midfielders (Leitner, Tom Trybull, Vrancic, even Marco Stiepermann) cannot secure their place which has created a default pairing of Tettey and McLean. Either we find a formation that involves these players or a massive clear-out is required.

But will DF stick or twist? Ondrej Duda and Buendia cannot play in the same XI because neither is scoring goals and secondly, both need to be central to be at the most creative best. That comes at the cost of natural width on the right. When the width comes from our full-backs, we are left exposed on the counter-attack and McLean and Tettey cannot cover all the holes.

If we stick with 4-2-3-1 I would rather Buendia play centrally and Onel Hernandez come back on to the right, as was so effective last season. Onel has limits to his game but in this do-or-die climax his direct pace and unpredictability would be more effective than other alternatives, and the same could even be said for Josh Martin. For me, Cantwell and Pukki are the only guaranteed starters in attack and there is plentiful debate about how other players should be involved, and it might not mean the best individuals automatically complete the starting XI.

I do not think McLean and Tettey dominate any matches in midfield. They certainly don’t score enough and their range of passing is limited. Although I think both are fantastic characters, pairing them together is a hindrance to DF’s possession philosophy. We are far too slow passing the ball through transitional areas of the pitch. Their deficit was perhaps best highlighted when Vrancic made a rare start against Spurs and was able to pass to Pukki for ‘that’ offside goal. We miss that creativity. Finally, in defence, surely everyone would agree that we would be more robust with a back three?

I hope that DF goes all out for survival in the remaining games but I am certain that if we retain our existing formation then relegation is inevitable. This group of players is perfectly suited to 3-4-3, although the best individuals might not necessarily be ideal for our best XI... some lateral thinking might be required.

Nine games to go. Please, DF and his players.... ATTACK!

OTBC.

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