Paddy Davitt verdict: Cursed City need to find the right answer
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The problem with a long term strategy is it relies on Norwich City winning games of football.
Supporters will accept sales of top talent if the product on the pitch continues to evolve.
That has been the genius of Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke. Combining financial transformation with football success. Before you point to a Premier League relegation consider the ageing squad they inherited and reshaped to storm to a Championship title the season before on a diet of attacking, free flowing football.
That expectancy Farke spoke about again in the aftermath of a Derby defeat that defied belief is a by-product of over-achievement.
Norwich really had no right to reach the top flight so early in this turnaround. That they did was a blessing and increasingly now feels like a curse. Having done it once, they are expected to do so again.
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Whatever the historical statistics suggest about relegated clubs bouncing back at the first attempt.
That is there. That is why, in Farke’s words, even clubs as established as Derby and Bournemouth view Norwich as something of scalp.
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That is not going away. Certainly not at Paul Warne’s Rotherham the other side of this international break. Or newly promoted Wycombe. The question now is can this head coach and a re-moulded squad handle it? Can they shed the baggage of a losing mentality and assert their dominance over the second tier?
Norwich have done a lot right in the past two Championship tussles and yet they have no points and no goals to show for their labours.
The frustration is palpable. Whether you take the temperature on social media or in the real world.
Fanned clearly by the on going exclusion of supporters.
It feels like a disconnect and it is doing Farke no favours in his attempts to navigate a path through the incessant transfer noise. A packed, vocal Carrow Road may have driven the hosts on in the final stages against Derby. Instead Wayne Rooney’s sublime free kick in a soulless stadium delivered another painful blow.
Deal in the here and now and Norwich have played four Championship games and only managed to beat Huddersfield.
That is nowhere near good enough for a head coach that can still go into battle against Derby without Todd Cantwell, Sam Byram, Kieran Dowell, Timm Klose, Josh Martin and Jacob Sorensen. But the race to judge on such a small sample and with the transfer window still open is premature.
This fascination with comparing Farke’s first season or the title winning season is tiresome.
The head coach was guilty of such himself after Bournemouth when he touched on the negative reaction to a first defeat at this level in 17 matches.
He cannot dismiss the rancid formline that marked a Premier League decline and then stitch the current season to the title-winning campaign. This is a new chapter, a new league and a revamped squad.
But the scarring from those who have been on the journey longer than the past summer is evident.
There is a lack of self-confidence, maybe even belief. You can see that most clearly in Norwich’s imprecision in the final third for all their weight of possession.
How Farke manages to get inside the heads of Teemu Pukki and all the other attacking options at his disposal is a far bigger issue than why Jordan Hugill has been restricted to late cameos, or why Cantwell is on the outside looking in at present.
Results breed confidence and right now this Norwich collective appear to exhibit the same lingering self doubt that infected last season’s vintage when they fell behind.
Admittedly it took a superb stop from David Marshall to foil Hugill after Rooney’s late free kick. But there was no home onslaught at any point before or after.
At the peak of his powers Farke’s Norwich teams attacked opponents in remorseless, relentless waves until the dam burst.
So far in the opening weeks it is ponderous, laboured and lacking in imagination to punch holes in heavily-manned defences. If the injection is not to come from the terraces any time soon it must come from within, and the head coach must find the spark.
When they resume at Rotherham the transfer window will be closed. Farke will have the certainty he craves for the months ahead.
There was plenty of positives in defeat to Derby, as there were to Bournemouth. Chief among them a sense Ben Gibson could emerge as a real asset in a post-Ben Godfrey world.
But few want to hear or even acknowledge those until results can match performances.