Michael Bailey: Going in cold, Bielefeld and new boys – six things about City’s tour in Germany
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
As Norwich City’s pre-season steps up a gear on tour in Germany, Michael Bailey dishes out some of the potential eye-catchers.
1 - City are going in quite cold
It's been a while since Norwich City headed out on their pre-season tour adventures without a public outing or two already under their belts.
Non-league clubs around the county or a trip to the southern coast of Ireland - there has been a desire to get minutes into the legs before things step up on the road, when there is little else around to keep them going.
Be it the first chance to see the new kit in action, waiting to see if Dereham and the like could embarrass their illustrious visitors, maybe the odd new haircut exposed to fan ridicule for the first time - it was all there.
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This time around however, it's straight on the plane - which will make the interest in Sunday's first public foray - the clash with Bundesliga II side Arminia Bielefeld - all the more interesting.
And there is little doubt that when the first venture outside the training bubble of pre-season comes, things suddenly become very slightly more competitive.
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2 - There is still a bit to be lost
Pre-season is a funny beast, arriving with real intrigue - but all too swiftly petering into a phoney war as we all wait for the real stuff to finally arrive.
You won't find many who say they have a real love for pre-season - but in fact, the reality is you can lose far, far more than it is ever possible to gain.
Cotton wool doesn't work given everyone needs to be warmed up and ready for the big kick-off - but that won't stop City keeping their fingers crossed tightly over the next four weeks.
Passed seasons have seen City lose the likes of Craig Bellamy out for the season after a pre-season tackle, or a key player losing their crucial fitness foundation for the year. It can all have a profound affect on the campaign ahead.
With this City vintage already set to be without Christoph Zimmermann for their opener at Liverpool, the simple equation at the moment is to avoid any more issues in the same position.
3 - Humblest roots will be growers
Things are truly glorious when you don't expect them. From Carrow Road bouncing, flags waving and a team spirit that impressed us all - it both fuelled the momentum and was fuelled by the momentum.
So arguably the most stark question facing Daniel Farke's Norwich City set-up heading into the new campaign is what they cope with that phenomenal success, in taking their task on into the Premier League?
Money, success, reward. It's not about attitude and expectation - be it inside the stands, the home dressing room and on the pitch.
Any emerging big-time attitudes won't last long under the culture the club has spent two years trying to foster - or it will damage it to the point of making life much harder than it will be.
What got Norwich City to this point, we all know. Every fan in the stand knows what it took. From Germany onwards, the outward signs need to show that those tools are still available.
4 - Is shape-shifting to come?
Nothing about last season was easy - and it certainly didn't feel it. At the same time though, Daniel Farke was leading a Championship winning machine. And it truly showed.
Each week, barely a tweak to the team sheet. A 4-2-3-1 formation variant that was played with for each opponent and tweaked on the pitch - but also packed with players in such an untouchable groove, they could relentlessly nail what was needed.
But it's hard to forget what Alex Neil said on his rise into the Premier League with City - openly admitting the top-flight was a completely different tactical animal compared to the Championship. An admission the jump in class doesn't stop with the playing squad.
Farke will learn it. In fact, he probably knows it already.
And if he does, the work to counter that step will kick in during City's warm-up games - when rehearsing their training work will be all that really matters.
5 - Tours can be habit-forming
It's the paradox of pre-season. You can pick up win after win, and then get smashed on the opening day. Or worry it all looks a bit of a mess, only to get serious and produce when the time comes and it really matters.
Pre-season is tough because it is so hard to read - but that doesn't stop harsh analysis of if the goals are coming and where from; where they're slipping in at the other end and why.
All these things can be ironed out as the friendlies tick by - or they can set a trend ahead of the new season, and into it.
For Norwich's own case, the more promising signs we see and the stronger they are, the better chance City can maintain their momentum from last season on into the Premier League.
There is an argument that Huddersfield's good start was what kept them up on their top-flight initiation under David Wagner and the 2017-18 campaign. Repeating that trick will do just fine for Norwich City too.
6 - Time to be swift with settling
There may not be many of them but for Norwich City's new boys, the eight days in Germany are crucial.
This is the point where they will really get to know what they are stepping into, how good the dressing room really is and how comfortable they are going to feel with the coaching staff and their new football surrounding.
From Patrick Roberts and Ralf Fahrmann on loan, to Josip Drmic as a free agent, Germany will give them their first taste of the club and some of the fan base. The public setting gives little place to hide.
Of course, this is the first sight of what they can do. Some signings of summers past are still remembered for one incredible - or terrible - pre-season friendly, over what they actually went on to do in more competitive situations; good or bad.
It was a great club and squad to be a part of last season. From the tour onwards, the Canaries message and spirit needs to raise the bar again.