Norwich City supporters are all too aware of the apparent curse surrounding the Manager of the Month award.
When Alex Neil was awarded with it back in September 2016, he proceeded to use this as a defence of his managerial ability, one which protected him against the revolt of a dressing room and a side critically underperforming in the league.
That rhetoric become a repetitive response to questions surrounding his side’s poor form, and one which really didn’t provide substantial evidence of any uplift in form.
As it transpired, Neil was dismissed and the rest is consigned to the history books.
Forgiveness must be granted to Norwich fans who see this award as a hindrance rather than a recognition or celebration of Norwich’s current uplift in form.
Yet, upon the nominees being released on Thursday morning, one noticeable man missing from the shortlist was Daniel Farke.
In my excitement, I posted a thread on Twitter surrounding statistics of those nominated, one which was done quickly and without glasses or food in my stomach. In my haste, I accredited Norwich and Millwall with one more victory than they actually achieved.
A lesson to be learnt there; Maths was never my strong point.
For this article to merely exist considering the state of play a mere few months previous is extraordinary within itself, but also the outpouring of anger at Farke’s lack of inclusion speaks volumes surrounding the job he is doing at Norwich.
Aesthetically pleasing football, the embedment of academy graduates and a cohesion that is palpable on the pitch, in the dressing room and in the terraces among supporters, Norwich City should be a story being told.
Flying under the radar is favourable, but in contemporary football with the constant scouting, video analysis and technology, nobody has the capability to be an unknown entity.
In the media, perhaps, but the methodology away teams employ at Carrow Road has shifted in recent weeks. If Norwich sustain their current levels, they’ll be recognisable as promotion candidates soon enough.
Baffling is the term to describe Farke’s omission from these awards, particularly when you dig deeper and compare statistics.
One thing to state firstly is that Garry Monk and Steve McLaren are nominees on merit.
Both of those coaches have overseen an uplift in form that wasn’t expected by many. McLaren’s orchestrating of QPR seemed inconceivable after their infamous 7-1 drubbing at the hands of free-scoring West Brom.
Despite criticism, McLaren stayed true to his methods and has quietly impressed at Loftus Road. The ex-England manager has accumulated 13 points from five unbeaten games.
A deserved inclusion.
Monk has transformed Birmingham into playoff contenders, ultimately it’ll be all about whether he can sustain this form and whether this season develops into anything profitable for the Blues. Similarly to McLaren, Monk has masterminded a return of 13 points in an unbeaten month, turning numerous draws into victories.
Again, his name deserves to be in contention for this award.
Neil Harris has done a remarkable job with limited resources at Millwall. That is without doubt. They’ve suffered an enduring start to the season, but last month saw a revival, winning ten points from five games, the same return as Farke at Norwich.
Beating Aston Villa, Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic in one month displays how Harris has been able to unearth the form Millwall discovered last season to put them in playoff contention. They come to Carrow Road on Saturday after a positive month, albeit in the wake of a defeat to Brentford.
Questions begin to be raised surrounding the inclusion of Frank Lampard however.
Derby posed unbeaten in the month of October, with wins to raise the eyebrows against high-flying West Brom and Sheffield United.
However, Lampard’s Derby side accumulated nine points in five fixtures.
One point less than Farke managed at Norwich.
Furthermore, the calibre of opposition they are beating is higher than Norwich, in terms of league standings at least. As was stated on Twitter, Derby are playing aesthetically pleasing, offensive football and the narrative of a footballing legend managing a Championship club is always going to be prominent.
See the treatment the league gave John Terry last season.
However, nobody expected Farke or Norwich City to display the form they are at current. If performances are being taken into account, did the panel witness Norwich outplay Stoke City only to lose that game? Did they witness Norwich dismantle an Aston Villa side which is full to the brim with experience?
Did they see Norwich overcome being a goal down in two consecutive fixtures to end up winning both? My predication would be no.
The paragraph of explanation says this surrounding Lampard’s inclusion…
‘A first nomination for Lampard whose attractive side negotiated their way unbeaten to nine points from five difficult-looking games, which included playing four of the five teams above them. Pride of place was a 4-0 win at West Brom.’ – EFL
All credible points. (Except they beat West Brom 4-1, but nonetheless…)
Worth noting that the other paragraphs choose to emphasise the return of points achieved by other nominated managers. Lampard’s doesn’t.
Farke has been instrumental to Norwich’s form, not just October, but one league defeat in six games graphically illustrates the work he is overseeing at Carrow Road.
Norwich are in esteemed company in the form tables as well and when coupled with the ongoing project being seen, surely that should be recognised for its recent success considering the numerous imponderables many elected to highlight.
Lampard’s inclusion seems to be based upon him as a character as oppose to his sides form.
Norwich sit top of the form table, Derby sit fourth. Norwich sit second in the Championship, Derby sit fourth. Norwich have 30 points, Derby have 28. Norwich recorded 10 points in October, Derby recorded 9.
Some are claiming that their cup run is being taken into consideration, and maybe subconsciously that is the case, but even so, Norwich got to the same round where Derby eventually got beaten despite having a more favourable route.
Cup progress shouldn’t be taken into consideration.
Is contextualisation a factor also? For Lampard, they opt to highlight the calibre of sides sides, but others simply focus on a return of points. Millwall beat Ipswich and Wigan in there run, does that decrease or increase value? It depends on who you are, it seems.
Lampard is doing an excellent job, and forming his own pathway in coaching, but that journey shouldn’t be highlighted more so than anyone else’s.
If context of Lampard’s work is being considered, then that should be equally considered among the other 23 teams also.
Farke’s work has been miraculous considering how Norwich were operating prior to his arrival.
Either context is taken in account, or it isn’t.
The secrecy of the panel, which includes ex-Ipswich manager George Burley, creates unneeded debate surrounding this accolade.
Ultimately judgement should be left to you.
Farke’s omission, in the grand scheme of things, may be seen as a positive by some. For others, his lack of inclusion is a baffling choice by those who elect who gets nominated and is evidence that some clubs are portrayed as favourable to the league because of the narrative that can be created.
Does it even matter?
Are you bothered that Farke isn’t included in the Manager of the Month nominations? Should he be? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!