Paddy Davitt: Now or never for Gilmour
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited
The thaw needs to set in sharpish for Billy Gilmour at Norwich City.
Another starring role for Scotland, another slew of gushing headlines, another burst of incredulity how Chelsea’s brightest failed to leave any impression on Daniel Farke.
Gilmour’s influential display in the Scots’ midweek 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over the previously unbeaten Danes secured his country’s spot among the play-off seeds.
It also brought into sharp focus again how chronically under used he was in the final weeks of Farke’s tenure.
Since an August league defeat to Leicester City, Gilmour has started only two games for the Canaries and six for his country. His Danish demonstration, before he made way late in the second half for Kenny McLean at Hampden, ensured he has now played more minutes this season in a Scotland jersey than a green and yellow one.
The inevitable talk around recalls that accompanied City’s recent Premier League mauling at his parent club would have been academic, had Farke stayed in post.
Gilmour would have returned to sender, and then in all probability out the door again to another top flight loan posting.
Only Dean Smith can change the narrative from here.
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We await the new Norwich head coach’s first public pronouncements. He can expect a persistent line on inquiry regarding the chances of a reconciliation between Norwich and Gilmour.
Farke clearly viewed him as a luxury item.
No other conclusion could be drawn from such a chronic lack of recent activity. In that post-Watford quest for greater defensive resolution Gilmour was expendable. He rightfully may have harboured a sense of grievance at how he was cast aside.
What he has shown in a Scotland jersey, whatever the debates around the relative quality of the opposition compared to Premier League opponents, is a maturity and composure in possession that belies his tender years. Gilmour is a connector of the dots, a player with the vision and the angles to break lines with his range of assured passing.
He most certainly is not the defensive protector he found himself pigeon holed into by the quality Norwich encountered, in what Farke himself, deemed a ‘bumpy’ run of early season Premier League fixtures.
Which is why it was not only puzzling but perhaps revealing Gilmour could still not get a look in at Brentford, with Farke imploring his players to rediscover their passing DNA in the build up.
Gilmour cut a frustrated figure for any who wished to observe his body language at Brentford. He will have heard the same soundbites from the outgoing head coach, maybe a direct message or two along the same lines at Colney, and pondered if that meant another chance to make a first impression.
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Many have already predicted Smith’s arrival is good news for Todd Cantwell, another player who found himself even further pushed to the margins. But Gilmour may well be the first beneficiary of a different head coach with a different outlook.
Norwich need to establish a residual offensive threat to stand any chance of following up that backs-to-the-wall Brentford victory forever remembered as Farke’s final hurrah.
They stand a better chance with a head coach who values the control and the poise Gilmour 'potentially' offers. For that remains the great imponderable. He is a precocious talent who has precious little experience of dictating games at the highest level.
That is where we all came in.
A summer signing heralded as the perfect embodiment of Farke’s footballing philosophy on one hand, and that shop window Gilmour surely craved to prove he can cut it, on the other, and return to Chelsea a viable starting option among a glittering cast list at Stamford Bridge.
Neither party have got what they wanted thus far. But Smith’s arrival may at least ensure divorce proceedings are halted.
Yet he will know, without needing to hear it from Gilmour’s camp, if a player Farke admitted around that meeting against his parent club was becoming increasingly restless remains on the periphery, then a break clause is on the cards.