Jack Reeve: Testing times, but Norwich City are heading in the right direction
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I think the joy of being a football fan is the fact everyone loses sense of reality very quickly, and it’s almost acceptable to do so.
I can certainly count myself in that bracket, having walked away from Carrow Road on Saturday far from exhilarated by what I’d just witnessed.
I quickly had to take myself back mentally to where I was after the thrashing at Millwall. Walking out of The Den was a bleak moment for any Norwich City fan. We’d just witnessed our team get thrashed by a side that finished sixth in League One the previous season and led by an ageing Steve Morison. I didn’t know where we were going as a football team that day and was seriously worried with what I was seeing.
Skip forward to the Saturday just gone and, despite looking toothless going forward at times, we now have a foundation to build from and I think I’m seeing improvement week on week. It’s very strange as a Canaries fan coming away from games happy with the defensive performance but wondering where the next goal is coming from.
When Daniel Farke first joined I think the unanimous opinion from everyone involved with the club was that the defence had to be sorted – we simply couldn’t continue with how things had been going if we wanted to see improvement. Farke came in with pedigree, having assembled one of the best defensive units in German football with his Borussia Dortmund II side, and we can now see why.
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Timm Klose has found the form that we all fell in love with him for back in the Premier League, Ivo Pinto looks like a man who can now lead a team with discipline and authority while Christoph Zimmermann has adapted wonderfully well and Marco Stiepermann has provided stability in a position that has been under par for a while.
But now we have to find balance.
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I was disappointed with the lack of urgency we saw going forward against Bristol City. Yes, we had chances to score in the first half, but our second-half offering was poor at best. Josh Murphy went into his shell, Mario Vrancic went missing far too often and Cameron Jerome made it very obvious why he is second choice striker.
I’m also very much up for being patient, but we also have to be realistic and realise that if we want any chance of a place in the top six this season we have to be beating the likes of Burton Albion and Bristol City at home. I’m sure in time it will come good, but this league is ruthless and with Middlesbrough and Reading away on the horizon, we could be staring another string of poor results down the barrel going into the international break.
But let me check back in with reality again; the overhaul we have seen at Norwich City over the past few months has probably been the biggest ever and we’re having to go back to basics after years of poor decisions, both on and off the pitch.
Not only do we now have a defensive foundation to build from, but we have a solid foundation and clear plan off the pitch. The change in recruitment methods has worked wonders with the likes of Tom Trybull, Angus Gunn and Zimmermann providing immense value for money and keeping hold of the likes of Nelson Oliveira and Alex Pritchard is huge credit to the board.
It’s never easy being a City fan, but this season is certainly going to be testing, balancing the reality of this huge project with the results we’re seeing on the pitch.
I need to keep reminding myself that everything will hopefully be okay and we’ll be rewarded for this change eventually. When that reward will come I’m not sure – but at least it feels like we’re heading in the right direction.