Connor Southwell: City chiefs will navigate dip in form with calmness
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Whenever Stuart Webber conducts an interview, there is always a ‘must watch’ tag that needs to be associated with it.
Norwich City’s sporting director often times his vocal interventions to perfection.
He elected to prematurely announce his departure at the conclusion of his current contract after the Canaries beat Manchester City, injecting a much-needed dose of reality into a bubble of euphoria that was building.
Then, he came out swinging after their Premier League relegation in order to freshen the scent that was rotting the mood among supporters.
Now, similar to a prolific striker, he has timed his run to perfection. When the Welshman speaks, supporters listen. His raw honesty is captivating regardless of the harshness of the message which is being delivered.
Joint majority shareholder Delia Smith described Webber as a ‘genius’ after City’s title win two seasons ago, but in reality, his strongest asset is the common sense he adopts to crucial decisions.
Many in football don’t have it. They throw money at every problem and act only in the short-term.
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There are ever-growing signs of City’s common sense around their rejuvenated training ground.
Acting upon complaints from the chefs about a lack of herbs for meals, City have constructed a new garden so they can supply them fresh to cut costs. This innovation and willingness to think differently is why City have so many admirers within the game.
That is the reason those inside the corridors of power at Colney and Carrow Road don’t share the panic that is currently felt by supporters, not because of herbs, but due to their unwavering belief in their processes.
This isn’t a club that reacts, but fundamentally believes in its principles and vision.
They may be aware of the volume of noise coming from social media, but they will stick to their mantra and continue to ignore it.
For those decision-makers, there isn’t an emotive response whereby they will be frantically scrambling for a solution, they will continue looking for answers from within.
Unlike last season, this blip isn’t the result of a lack of quality.
Webber himself spoke about having ‘no excuses’ in the summer. Farke has more variation and better depth than during City’s scale of Mount Everest in the Premier League.
Farke’s coaching staff won’t be feeding on the panic but will instead be plotting and engineering sessions designed to extract more attacking output from their creative players.
That calmness, set by Webber, seeps out of Colney. It is not a complacency, but a genuine belief that they can ride this wave and come out strong.
In a week where many have handed Brentford the title, City will continue with their way in the knowledge of the ‘twists and turns’ to come, to quote Ben Gibson.
The visit of Stoke is a pivotal moment.
If Norwich emerge from the game victors, having scored goals and returned to their fluent best, many will reinstall them as favourites in the race for promotion.
Farke is a coach whose work is entirely based on theory. He isn’t ruling with emotion. Whilst other coaches view football as war, City’s boss sees a game of chess.
Mistakes have been made. City’s recruitment in the Premier League wasn’t good enough, by their own admission. The implosion after Project Restart was difficult to swallow.
But they have constantly found solutions, and now they will seek to address their dip in form.
There is no guarantee that their blip gets resolved overnight, but the metrics behind their performances don’t show a major need for concern.
Farke does need to extract more attacking threat from his full-backs. Max Aarons hasn’t met his usual high standards in recent weeks.
City do need to find alternatives to Emi Buendia, even though he returns to action today following his suspension.
They have the quality, both in their playing and coaching staff, to address this worrying period. As the storm continues to worsen, they will navigate the seas with calm.
Victory against the goal-shy Potters would begin to change the message, and once again, Webber would be credited for his intervention and Farke praised for his ability to find solutions.
But one thing is for certain, the atmosphere will be not be allowed to turn to anxiety and self-doubt.