Paddy Davitt verdict: The end game is upon us
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
If Norwich City's players do not believe why should anyone else?
What unfolded at Chelsea in front of a global television audience reduced the Canaries to a laughing stock.
It was not the gulf in class that one might reasonably expect to be the case, it was the lack of belief, the absence of any intensity or any real desire to push the Blues out of their nonchalant stride.
City’s dire display was abject enough. But Farke’s brutally honest post-match admission perhaps some of his players were dazzled by Chelsea’s star appeal should cut much deeper than the lacerations from a club record equalling top flight loss.
When the Canaries’ pulled off that stunning win over Manchester City two seasons ago, those who matter at Carrow Road saw it as less a result that needed to reverberate around the globe than the natural evolution of a club competing in the same league.
If it has now truly reached a stage too many in green and yellow do not believe they deserve to be on the same pitch as the best, then this transcends Farke’s job status.
As bad as it feels right now to be associated with Norwich City, there is no sense from inside the corridors of power his time has run its course. Or any moves in that direction.
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But the clock is surely ticking. This cannot go on.
Farke’s willingness to suspend, if not abandon, his attacking philosophy in the pursuit of Premier League progress engineered goalless affairs against Burnley and Brighton.
But if that renewed focus on defensive solidity can be dismantled so dismissively, albeit by one of the best club sides in Europe at present, then the City coach leaves himself exposed.
His Norwich remain pitifully anaemic in their creative urgings. If you remove that competitive edge against the ball there is nothing left.
How Farke now pivots for a match up against a Leeds side struggling at the wrong end of the table could define his future, and that of City’s bid for Premier League consolidation.
The stakes could not be any higher, fuelled by the dross offered at Stamford Bridge and a winless run that depending on how charitable you feel extends deep into a previous top flight quest under Farke.
If this is truly the end game then he would be better advised considering unleashing the likes of Christos Tzolis or Milot Rashica from the start. There must be a middle ground that does not sacrifice attacking potency on the altar of a search for defensive soundness.
He has singularly failed to find it yet, and what unfolded at Stamford Bridge illustrated how fragile the foundations remain.
City’s midfield trio got nowhere near Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic. Mathias Normann, Pierre Lees-Melou and Kenny McLean, as a collective, were seemingly unable to judge the distances or close the spaces.
Chelsea needed little invitation to establish a bridgehead deep in Norwich territory, and then it was simply a case of waiting for a mistake or gently depressing the accelerator. Chelsea were deadly but against inferior opponents who compliantly rolled over.
For any who think the scale of such toxicity is a wild over-reaction to a one-off hammering at the Blues, think again.
Farke highlighted in the build up his squad faced arguably the toughest test in world football. His fan base do not wish to hear such sentiments any more.
They know the scale of the challenge. They want to hear how Norwich attempt to bridge the divide.
The head coach called for an aggressiveness and a fire in response to this mauling against the Premier League leaders, ahead of next Sunday’s duel against Leeds. Where was it at Chelsea?
Apart from Ben Gibson’s rush of blood, which merely contributed to the margin of a victory that was never seriously in doubt once Callum Hudson-Odoi doubled the hosts’ lead.
City have scored one goal in open play all season in the Premier League. Did anyone seriously think they could muster two in a game?
That is the problem.
They are confirming all the worst fears and the sneering predictions from further afield. They are an easy target to hit.
Some already label this group one of the poorest Premier League teams in history. But more damaging than the barbs outside the camp is the sense such negativity and self-doubt has seeped inside the bubble.
What other conclusion can one draw from the speed they raised the white flag?
This is on Farke now. There needs to be a renewed urgency and a desperation from the top down. Before it is too late.