Paddy Davitt: Farke is a coach City's players believe in
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Ben Gibson strikes you as the most affable of individuals but to paraphrase Kevin Keegan you sense he would 'love it' if Norwich City can win at Burnley.
First and foremost it would lift some of those darks clouds gathering over Daniel Farke and a squad who must feel they have been slogging away for six months, not six Premier League games, given the gruelling nature of bumping along at the bottom.
But after two seasons under Sean Dyche at Turf Moor, when his top flight dream turned sour and he was cast into the footballing wilderness, even the mild-mannered centre back would surely derive extra satisfaction from a winning return.
Neither Gibson or Dyche have divulged in detail why that relationship tanked to the point Burnley’s club record signing was back training with first club Middlesbrough before City offered him a lifeline.
But whatever the chain of events that unfolded behind closed doors Farke and his sporting director Stuart Webber clearly held a different opinion to Dyche.
Gibson was rescued from the shadows and integrated into a Norwich line up, alongside Grant Hanley, that stormed to a Championship title.
The luckless defender had to watch the promotion finale last season on crutches, after an ankle injury, and there was then a demotion for the recent league trip to Arsenal before he returned in a defensive three which looks to suit him.
But those downsides in green and yellow contrast dramatically with being marginalised under Dyche. Perhaps that explains the warmth and affection in these quotes from Gibson towards his Norwich head coach over the past summer.
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“First of all he is a really good person. He is so honest. There are no secrets. It doesn’t matter which member of the squad he will say it in front of the squad and that is his honest opinion. Different clubs have different politics and managers handle things differently.
"But he says it as it is and as a player he gives you so much confidence to play how he wants to play. That is an attractive brand of football.
“He is relentless, detailed, I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“He is a fantastic talent as a manager. He sees things others managers I have worked under haven’t seen – technically, tactically – he can change the game with one tweak. I have learned so much and it is dream to play for him. I want to keep impressing him.”
That glowing character reference may not chime with the current perception of some City fans who feel Farke has lost his way, that he is too quick to change personnel and formations or too slow to effect change with substitutions.
There are even some who choose to pile on the losing run from the previous ‘Project Restart’ era as evidence he is unable to crack the code in the top flight.
We will find out soon enough if those who have lost faith in their double title-winning leader this early in the new campaign are right.
But what Gibson’s testimony, and to bring it firmly up-to-date the post-match positivity at Everton exuded by new signing Mathias Normann, indicate is his players still firmly believe in the process and the methods.
Farke spoke himself at Goodison Park about ‘keeping the negativity’ out of the camp, as well as a growing sense the tipping point is in sight.
For his sake, for Gibson’s sake, for the sake of Norwich City’s fans one hopes it comes on Saturday against Dyche’s Burnley. Otherwise it will feel an interminably long international break and an uneasy run in to Brighton’s upcoming Carrow Road visit.
Farke himself has done a lot of talking of late. Some of it has struck a chord, some of it when filtered through defeat after defeat has done him few favours.
As he himself remarked after these past two league and cup defeats, no-one really wants to hear why he remains upbeat, or why he can see a clear path to points.
But while his players firmly buy into his methods, and while Farke believes he has the ability to mould a squad most view as considerably better than the last time he was in the Premier League, then Norwich should be not dismissed quite so readily.