Paddy Davitt: City's bold call and the status quo

Daniel Farke has last much longer at Norwich City than Frank Lampard fared at Chelsea after his departure earlier this week

Daniel Farke has lasted much longer at Norwich City than Frank Lampard fared at Chelsea after his departure earlier this week - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club. However, recent results and performances have not met the club’s expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement. 

There can never be a good time to part ways with a club legend such as Frank, but after lengthy deliberation and consideration it was decided a change is needed now to give the club time to improve performances and results this season. 

Recent results? That was some statement from Chelsea confirming the dismissal of favourite son Frank Lampard.

The 'legend' navigated a transfer window ban he inherited to lead his beloved Chelsea to Champions League qualification, an FA Cup final and the knockout stages of last season’s elite European competition, before they were beaten by eventual winners, Bayern Munich.  

You want more recent? On December 6 last year, after they had beaten Leeds 3-1 at home, Chelsea were third in the Premier League two points behind leaders Tottenham and Liverpool.  

In the mad world of football, that is some definition of recent.

Lest one be surprised Lampard is now out of work after the Blues opted to dispense with his services on Monday, he was in charge for only 18 months, well below even the average tenure in the hair trigger world of Premier League coaching. 

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Thomas Tuchel has replaced the Englishman. Tuchel forged his own coaching reputation at Borussia Dortmund, where his understudy with Dortmund’s second string may be a familiar name in these parts. 

Daniel Farke has often cited Tuchel’s influence on his own development, particularly when those lazy comparisons with Jurgen Klopp spewed forth after he guided the Canaries to the top flight in 2019. Farke’s philosophy and tactical template have far more in common with Tuchel.  

The City chief has now been in post since May 2017. He is in the top 10 of the longest serving managers currently operating across the entire Football League. A list headed by former King’s Lynn defender and Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. 

It says everything about Farke’s success but also Norwich’s more measured approach, compared to the vast majority of their rivals. Be in no doubt Farke has had to weather rocky spells.

Max Aarons made his Norwich City league debut at Portman Road early in the title-winning Championship season

Max Aarons made his Norwich City league debut at Portman Road early in the title-winning Championship season - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

There was a fair amount of leeway afforded him in an uncomfortable debut season that ended below Ipswich Town. But he was under pressure at the start of what turned into the most remarkably unexpected title winning campaign that followed, roughly around the time of a derby date at Portman Road that September.

City scrapped their way to a 1-1 draw with a backline that featured Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis in front of Tim Krul for the first time. The rest is history.

There were those who also felt the abject manner of Norwich's departure from the Premier League during the 'Project Restart' period put him on notice a club record run of defeats had to turn, and turn quickly.

Stuart Webber robustly declared after relegation was confirmed Farke would stay as long as he did, or for as long as the German himself wanted to hang around.  

Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke on the day of Farke's appointment at Norwich City in May 2017 

Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke on the day of Farke's appointment at Norwich City in May 2017 - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant

That unwavering support is commendable but it needed Farke to deliver, as he has done to this stage of the latest Championship season. What this underscores is not only the talent of the man but his durability.

It is no wonder he speaks in such glowing terms about the conditions he is allowed to work, and the relative longevity, when you cast a glance in the direction of how clubs like Chelsea treat their managers as transient commodities.  

The Blues might well point to a bulging trophy cabinet since Roman Abramovich’s arrival as testament to the success of such a ruthless turnover. But Farke’s tenure should also be savoured as an antidote to the 'hire them, fire them' culture, where short term thinking pervades every crevice.

City appointed the German as a symbol they wanted to break the cycle. Webber felt he was the perfect fit. They have stuck with him because even in difficult periods they still felt he was the right person for the job.

It is a way of operating that would not suit every club.

But there is no question City’s success on and off the pitch since May 2017 is rooted in their desire to break from the pack, to be bold and try to buck the trend.

None more so than in the appointment, and the faith shown, in a first overseas coach.

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