David Freezer: An exasperating week for Canaries supporters

Stuart Webber, Sporting Director of Norwich City, speaking at the official opening of the Lotus Trai

It's been a busy week for Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber - Credit: Danielle Booden

Testing, infuriating, confusing, concerning – just a few of the words Norwich City supporters could use to describe the week so far. 

As the shock about the timing of Daniel Farke’s dismissal had quickly turned to optimism about who would be the new Canaries head coach, the widely held assumption was that City chief Stuart Webber must have someone in his sights, a target lined up. 

Yet on Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Farke had been relieved of his duties despite a win, Aston Villa had decided the international break was the time to make a change as well, immediately bringing a fresh complexion to the Norwich situation. 

Dean Smith was swiftly added to the Norwich mix and early candidate Frank Lampard was then also featuring among the favourites for the Villa vacancy, with the wild-card seemingly provided by Bodo Glimt’s emerging coach Kjetil Knutsen. 

City officials were keeping their cards close to their chests from the very start though, eager to avoid their crucial recruitment process playing out in the media. When a Premier League legend with the stature of Lampard is involved though, that is easier said than done. 

By Tuesday, it was starting to become clear that a swift appointment wasn’t on the way, with Smith and Lampard appearing primed for in-depth talks ahead of a potential decision later in the week. 

An online poll on this website attracted over 8,000 people and saw the left-field option of Knutsen claiming 46pc of the votes, despite reports in Norway stressing no contact had been made with the coach or his club, with two wins needed to retain the title and a Europa Conference League campaign unfolding impressively. 

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The 53-year-old seemed to fit the profile, of Webber identifying a lesser-known coach from the continent who would bring fresh ideas, hunger and ambition – the Premier League version of Farke’s surprise arrival in the Championship. 

Lampard wasn’t far behind on 38pc and Smith attracted 10pc, with just 6pc opting for ‘other’ and names including Roy Hodgson and Lucien Favre being put forward. 

By Wednesday, it was clear that Villa were going for Steven Gerrard and the noise around Lampard started to crank up, as is to be expected about a man who earned 106 England caps. 

City supporters were getting a glimpse back into the big time. No longer was there talk in the national media of lacking ambition or ‘little old Norwich’. The Chelsea legend could put the Canaries back on the map, it seemed. 

As Villa confirmed they had brought Gerrard in from Rangers on Thursday morning, the Lampard machine went into overdrive, kicked off by none other than his uncle on TalkSport, former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp. 

Chelsea Manager Frank Lampard and Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke before the Premier League match at

Frank Lampard, left, appeared on course to succeed Daniel Farke at Norwich City - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The same radio station went a step further that afternoon and began to report that the deal was done, that Lampard would be going to Norwich. With the former England midfielder having worked in the media regularly in recent years as well, a host of national outlets soon followed suit. 

All was not as it seems though. Within hours there were reports from Sky Sports that Smith had been very impressive during his talks, and that City would still like to speak to Knutsen. Perhaps it wasn’t a done deal? 

On Friday, former Three Lions colleagues including David James, Martin Keown and Jack Wilshere were being asked for their opinions on the imminent return of their former international colleague to the Premier League managerial circuit. 

Still, there was no white smoke from Carrow Road boardroom though, with suggestions that nothing concrete would be emerging until Sunday at the earliest. Something was wrong. The Lampard narrative didn’t seem watertight. 

Then at 3pm, the house of cards collapsed, as one after another high-profile reporter from national newspapers said that the supposed favourite had pulled out of the race, deciding that it wasn’t the best move for him. 

Ensuring that message made it into the media before any suggestion that he had been overlooked could emerge was of the utmost importance to his representatives, clearly. 

Aston Villa Manager Dean Smith during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, NorwichPicture by P

Dean Smith is thought to still be in the running for the Norwich City vacancy - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images 

All of which left Canaries fans wondering what was going on and how much longer they would have to wait. Why was Farke sacked if a new man wasn’t lined up? How did Lampard’s imminent 'appointment' leak when there was no truth in it?

Media sources close to Chelsea had even started to report that fringe members of the Blues’ back-room staff were being lined up, with pundits rushing to point out that Chelsea loanee Billy Gilmour was on the verge of a new lease of life at City. 

With 24-hour rolling coverage of the Premier League, creating a vacuum leaves the opportunity for speculation to fill that space. When the new man is appointed, hopefully by the start of next week at the latest, all of the fuss will soon be forgotten. 

Yet with their team bottom of the Premier League and having the joy of a victory swiftly snatched away, Canaries supporters are inevitably going to grow more anxious as that crunch clash with Southampton creeps closer. 

After keeping their cards as close to their chest as possible all week, will it emerge that Webber actually had an ace up his sleeve the whole time? Or did Smith impress so much that he has become the standout candidate?

City fans are desperate to know the answers and with so much to fight for on the pitch during the remaining 27 games, that is totally understandable. 

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