Eat, Sleep, Drink Norwich City: Professional approach has transformed the fans
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The sound of a new broom sweeping the corridors of power at Norwich City was audible across Norfolk from the moment Stuart Webber arrived at Carrow Road.
City’s failure to establish themselves in the Premier League over the last six years has in a large part been down to the lack of an over-arching strategy for the club, beyond that of merely avoiding relegation back to the Championship.
The failure to build a playing philosophy allied to negligence in recruitment meant that even if we had achieved promotion last season, the likelihood of our stay in the top flight being any more than a few years, would have been minimal at best.
However, the new structure of the club, spearheaded by Webber and Daniel Farke, has brought a fresh sense of optimism. Player recruitment seems more targeted than in the past, with signings made to address areas of most need, including the leaky defence that destroyed irrevocably City’s play-off hopes last season.
Criticism of the calibre of City’s German imports such as Christoph Zimmermann and Marcel Franke is guilty of underestimating the standard of the German second tier, and German football itself, which with regard to coaching and training is a long way ahead of the English game, signified clearly by Germany’s status as world champions.
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Indeed, Farke’s tough training methods should mean City prove a fitter side this season, and perhaps lead to more last-minute goals that were so memorable under Paul Lambert, who himself spent a large-part of his coaching education in Germany.
Webber’s sensible approach to recruitment is reflected in his unpopular decision not to sign the expensive Mitchell Dijks, who while proving a fan favourite in his time on loan here, was often caught out of position and had to resort to the rash tackles that perhaps endeared him more to the crowd rather than improving Norwich’s position on the pitch.
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It has been refreshing to see player departures dealt with in such a professional manner, with Webber embracing the fact that holding on to players who do not want to play for the club is counterproductive to team spirit as well as performance.
Jonny Howson and Graham Dorrans, while having been good servants for the club, have been more than adequately replaced by Mario Vrancic and Harrison Reed.
Furthermore, the sale of Jacob Murphy for over £12m seems a shrewd, if undesirable, move considering we have a ready-made replacement in the form of his brother Josh, with the substantial inflow of cash further allowing Farke to bolster and balance his squad with higher-quality players.
Farke’s philosophy of a possession based-game looks set to work well with City’s technically-gifted players such as Alex Pritchard and Wes Hoolahan. Indeed, a critique of Alex Neil’s time in charge was the lack of a consistent footballing philosophy, with this absence translating onto the pitch, especially away from home, where the players often seemed devoid of instruction or tactical guidance.
It may take time for Farke’s ideas to translate into success on the pitch and Carrow Road must be patient and accept that the owners have delivered the change that was demanded by so many of the City faithful under the turgid last days of Moxey and Neil.
While some doom-mongers have decried a supposed “fire-sale” of the club’s talent, and have suggested this season will be one of struggle, I am on the contrary more optimistic than I have ever been before the beginning of a season and feel that automatic promotion is well within reach. While big-spending Aston Villa and Middlesbrough appear to be City’s biggest rivals, the lack of a stand-out force in the way that Newcastle were last season, means we can even dare to dream about lifting the title in May.
season and will forever bleed yellow and green. OTBC.