It’s a precarious period to support Norwich City at present.
With buzzwords like ‘patience’, ‘transition’ and ‘time’ are being used to describe the change which is grappling with the previous gross mismanagement supporters have witnessed in the last five seasons, many expected this season to be wholly positive.
An insurgence under Daniel Farke is what most supporters were packaged, with an emulation of Huddersfield predicted, supporters were accepting of change. Any supporter who expected a title challenge or promotion push was seemingly residing in a fanatical land. Nobody said this would be easy.
Yet, with the club languishing in 16th position and currently enduring a run of form which could be categorised as ‘relegation form’, all things Norwich City are met with sighs of discontent and apathy.
Project Farke was not advertised to supporters in this way. Transition and time were in the small print, but Stuart Webber’s arrival raised expectation and optimism following the malaise under Alex Neil and his precursors. Webber was walking into a club where time was not of the essence and he would be seen as the predominant of positive change.
Be proactive not reactive. That was the slogan.
After the implosion at Millwall, Webber and his selected Head Coach were left to survey amongst the wreckage and plucked Grant Hanley from the North East. Hanley proved a symbol of how City required an altogether different animal to the possession based technicians Farke deployed prior to the mauling by the Lions.
What ensued was an adaptation of the philosophy which Farke was looking to implement. Suddenly, the German coach discovered a dogged face to his group of technicians. Middlesbrough, Ipswich and Reading all conquered in the period of tactical improvement. Farke was lauded as a virtuoso, an adept craftsman who carved Norwich into a Championship side able to compete with those superior to themselves.
What has ensued since that glorious East Anglican Derby victory in Suffolk is serious regression. Farke has transitioned from an adept tactical operator to a man whose patience is running thin whilst supporter’s period of time is rapidly decreasing.
Those buzzwords are being used in a negative fashion, and rightly so.
But who is to blame? Despite this abysmal period of form, no real venting has been placed at Farke’s doorstep. The players aren’t clinically underperforming; they are merely not crafting opportunities from periods of prolonged possession. Farke cuts a frustrated figure after matches, and there is no doubting his depth and breadth of knowledge on the game. To advocate his removal would be counterproductive.
No head coach could do better with this squad of players constructed by Farke.
But he cannot keep under producing. With the abundance of talent present in the squad, Norwich’s lack of offensive prowess and their midfield imbalance is concerning. What is a more pressing concern for the German is his current inability to address the lack of tempo and toothless nature of his playing squad.
He is being castigated for late substitutions, shoehorning players into unnatural positions and his over complication in the offensive phase. But if Farke isn’t to blame, then who is?
The blame is being directed towards the affable and long serving majority shareholders, why can’t Norwich follow suit to teams like Barnsley, Wolves and Reading? Delia Smith’s ownership of Norwich has been turbulent and successful in patches, but Norwich’s lack of investment is being exposed in a contemporary period where success is often hinged upon the depth of owner’s pockets.
Norwich can’t expect to find Waitrose quality whilst shopping in Lidl. A knowledgeable scouting framework can be assembled, yet getting deals complete is wholly dependent on the aforementioned characteristic; one which is severely lacking at Carrow Road. Player sales will generate a significant hole in the finances documented by the most recent club accounts.
There is no magic pot of gold lurking at the end of a rainbow. Norwich isn’t going up this season and thus supporters must appreciate the quality of James Maddison and Alex Pritchard, as they will be donning the colours of other outfits come August of 2018.
What’s the solution?
A change in ownership guarantees nothing. Deep pockets don’t equate to instantaneous promotion, case studies including Aston Villa and Birmingham epitomises that, but it success is rare without it. Delia isn’t wholeheartedly objecting to selling her stake. Investment means control, however. Why would anyone pump money into a business whereby they couldn’t dictate proceedings?
Reverting back to successful case studies, Reading has obtained the knowledge of John Madejski and Barnsley will keep the outgoing Cryne family on the board, to gather the cultural understanding of the football club in which they are entering.
Naturally, Delia has been successful before. The proliferation from League One to the Premier League was begun by the lady herself, stripping the board and replacing them with a new group of directors, spearheaded by David McNally.
She too also instigated the most recent change, and for that Norwich is now planning in a more long term manner. In spite of these positive contributions, she has also overseen the appointments of Glenn Roeder and Peter Grant amongst other noticeable errors. In order to progress, Norwich must adopt that slogan being proclaimed by the Sporting Director.
They must be proactive and not reactive. Proactively seek aid in the boardroom before cutting the cloth becomes too radical and the pennies invisible. The figures are out there and must be found, but Delia shouldn’t be extracted from this club.
She too has a major part to play.