Michael Bailey: Norwich City’s adapting need and the curious case of Alex Neil and Paul Lambert
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
In his weekly column, Norwich City correspondent Michael Bailey sees the Canaries’ need to adapt and the comparative cases of Alex Neil and Paul Lambert.
There is a real danger at the moment as far as Norwich City are concerned – and that is over-analysis.
We’ve seen a hugely tough run of fixtures for Daniel Farke’s side in recent weeks. Most ending in an equally positive result.
So on the back of an off-night – with the mitigation that comes alongside a first league loss on the road since August – it can be hard to resist the cogs turning on what went wrong and needs rectifying.
Indeed both Preston and Ipswich offered strong signs of what the Canaries could be facing over the remaining 14 games. Both played well. Both adapted their game to counter City’s strengths and niggle at their weaknesses.
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It’s why winning anything is so hard: you have to keep reinventing yourself to simply maintain your forward momentum.
With so may key players nearing a first-team return, that evolution may well occur naturally – dependent on Farke’s thirst to change his selections.
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But there is little hiding what is riding on City’s trip to Bolton on Saturday (3pm) – where in reality, only a win will do.
Adaption is also a good theme to deal with when it comes to Preston’s ex-City boss Alex Neil.
A lot of questions could be rightly pointed at how Norwich City went about things at Deepdale – but there should be a degree of credit headed North End’s way for how they dealt with the opening 25 minutes that effectively won them the game.
And maybe more notable was Neil’s post-match nod to the mistakes he made and lessons he learned from being in charge at Carrow Road.
Neil’s honestly always ensured he was thought of highly. You imagine as time passes, that feeling will only carry a renewed romantic glow forged under the Wembley arch.
Neil’s situation is of course the perfect antidote to what Paul Lambert managed in the last week – effectively taking a one-man wrecking ball to his Carrow Road legacy and leaving it in tatters.
I believe Lambert and his staff are the only set not to visit Daniel Farke in his office after a game at Carrow Road this season.
It’s worth remembering, Lambert sits proudly in Norwich City’s Hall of Fame – having masterminded the most incredible three-season ride the club has undertaken in its long history.
That such achievements will now come with an asterisk in the mind of most City supporters says everything you need to know –however the fallout and charges from Carrow Road on Sunday are resolved from here.
• It sounds like City really want to make up for what happened at The Den last season – how long ago does that feel now, by the way?
I believe the Canaries have now sold out the entire allocation they requested for City’s trip to face Millwall on Saturday, March 2 – with some 3,200 supporters descending on the capital.
City may be able to ask for more seats, but it seems unlikely. And so the scene will be set for a little bit of revenge for the 4-0 defeat that rang alarm bells so early in this Norwich City project; one that truly has been more than 18 months in the making.
• Fair play to the EFL for their Youth Development Week. You may have caught it on social media, aiming to highlight the work being done across the Football League in developing young English stars of the future.
The EFL named a handful of talents that have enjoyed breakthrough seasons – one of which was Max Aarons: as we all know, a young man that has been a joy to watch develop over the course of this season.
Hopefully we see more of the same next season, whichever level Norwich are operating.
The EFL’s week was actually signed off by their commitment to a further three years of their EFL Futures initiative – where clubs like Norwich are financially rewarded for handing starts to players under-21 that will be eligible to play for England.
Much like City’s improved reputation for selling talents at significant prices, so City’s progress in youth development has caught the eye of both the EFL and other clubs.
In a season of remarkable change, this is the one that will be most pleasing to many at Carrow Road – and the one they really will want to see continue regardless.
• They’re back – and it’s a big one. The Norwich City Fans Social Club return on Wednesday at Carrow Road and it’s going to be fun, as they host a fans’ forum with Daniel Farke.
City fans only sporadically get the opportunity to directly quiz their head coach, so the chance is one not to be missed – especially as entry costs £3 for adults, with the Top of the Terrace doors open from 6.45pm for a 7.30pm start.
And if that wasn’t enough, we plan to film the PinkUn Show from Carrow Road as preparations for the event hit full steam. What’s not to like?
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