No award for Farke but a pivotal month for Canaries
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Daniel Farke may have lost out on the Manager of the Month award to Neil Warnock, but will the month of October prove significant for different reasons?
After all, City have soared up the table, they sit third at present and have gone seven matches unbeaten since that 1-0 defeat to Derby County.
Farke hasn’t been rewarded with the EFL gong, but he could have got the wheels in motion for another Championship promotion assault for the Canaries.
That award can always be feared by supporters who discuss the ‘curse’ that follows, so maybe Warnock being handed the award ahead of City’s trip to Teesside is a blessing in disguise for Farke.
City’s head coach took his fair share of criticism during their ill-fated Premier League campaign and a slow start to life back in the second tier but October was the month where fortunes began to change for City.
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Prior to the last international hiatus, City fans were concerned over the lack of progress in terms of results and performances.
Here is how Farke ensured October was productive month for the Canaries, and why he was nominated for the Manager of the Month award.
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- 2 City midfielder returns to Norfolk after loan spell terminated
- 3 Bushiri completes Eupen loan
- 4 Placheta must kick on at City
- 5 Giannoulis in contention for Boro clash - as City secure work permit
- 6 Giannoulis deal proof City can navigate difficult transfer market
- 7 Cantwell explains why he wears different coloured boots and why City is in his DNA
- 8 Lambert and Ipswich in crisis: Do you care, City fans?
- 9 City striker seals Swindon loan move; Hugill injury boost
- 10 'That's my dream' - Giannoulis hopes his style will boost City's promotion hopes
City’s boss has been criticised in some quarters for the lateness of his substitutions. In the top flight, many supporters felt his changes weren’t impacting games.
In half of the matches over the last month, a substitute - commonly Mario Vrancic – was responsible for turning a result. Clearly, his changes are having the desired impact in fixtures this season.
Vrancic is the shining example, but Kenny McLean came off the bench to score a late, albeit deflected, equaliser against Brentford. His changes in the victory at Rotherham helped the Canaries sustain their spell of pressure.
Ultimately, it wasn’t just throwing Vrancic into matches, it was the manner in which Farke deployed him. Against Birmingham City, the Bosnian played as a central midfielder, against Wycombe Wanderers, he was a number 10.
Credit must go to Farke and his coaching team for being proactive with those changes.
Sharing the goals around
Last season, the Canaries had 10 different scorers in the Premier League, with the vast majority of goals arriving from two sources in particular, Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell.
Eleven matches into the fresh campaign, City have already recorded nine different scorers.
The emphasis this season was about relieving the pressure from Pukki’s shoulders and hoping others would contribute. In October, the Finnish striker scored three goals in six matches, with five others coming from other members in the squad, compared to two in September.
Emi Buendia is being encouraged to advance into goal-scoring areas, Jordan Hugill offers a different thrust to their striking options and Vrancic has injected a threat off the bench.
Sustaining that will be pivotal to their charge for success this season.
A balanced midfield
A major defect of the Canaries side last season was the inability to mix and match their midfield approach. It was packed full of technically proficient options beyond Alex Tettey and Kenny McLean.
This year, the ‘Skipp ‘n’ Rupp’ partnership is offering City defensive protection and progressive passes in their midfield.
Rupp in particular is performing well. Statistics show him as being the most threatening midfielder in the division in terms of progressive passes and his orchestration of play.
Skipp, a Spurs loanee, has provided that defensive steel and kept performances ticking over despite his inexperience.
The duo have provided a more effective defensive shield and allowed an offensive quartet greater freedom during offensive passages of play.
Being a head coach is difficult. Making decisions that impact results and the state of games in a split decision is testing.
Across October, Farke called the majority right. Whether it’s Vrancic’s introduction or opting for a more physical line-up against Rotherham United proved successful.
Even electing to omit Cantwell from the starting XI was brave considering his talent. Resting Pukki against the Millers, the list goes on. Players know they will have to make their opportunity count.
More recently, although this was in November, introducing Bali Mumba and Josh Martin in a top of the table clash against Swansea City. These are the actions of a head coach willing to take bold decisions.
Going forward, City will be hoping Farke can sustain this positive moment and turn it into a consistent run of results across a series of months.
Naturally, there will dips in the road, but how Farke manages them and how his squad react, will be pivotal to City’s success. If it does, the awards will swiftly follow.