TalkNorwichCity welcomes new writer Mark Neale to the site. Mark is a big Norwich City fan but also an excellent writer with an interest in European football. Over to you, Mark.

As the season approaches and another hectic summer transfer window draws to a close, many topics have given rise to discussion, opinions were a plenty and for some people it bore to outright frustration.

Two of the reoccurring subjects that arose on social media were the goalkeeper situation and the loan move of Sean Raggett to Rotherham. The argument that seemed to put across in defence of local goalkeeper Remi Matthews and Raggett, who was plucked from the lower leagues last season was that they can “both do a job.”

A reasoned argument no doubt, but in modern football and playing under the footballing philosophy implemented by Daniel Farke, this is no longer enough to get you into the first team.

Starting with the Matthews situation, a goalkeeper being able to make saves is no longer the standard by how they are judged. Distribution plays a more important role in the position, looking at the highest escalon’s of football and the teams that play a possession based style of football the goalkeeper is the start of any attacking move.

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Ederson at Manchester City, Marc Ter Stegen and his understudy at Barcelona Jasper Cillessen, Manuel Neuer at Bayern Munich and the much covered world record signing of new Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker are all exceptional with their feet.

Of course comparing Norwich to these giants of European football is crazy BUT there is method in the madness.

A detailed study of how these teams play will lead you to see similar patterns of play positionally which have been seen at Carrow Road, it was clear to see in pre-season that the distribution from either Matthews or Michael McGovern was not up to the standard required.

Enter Dutchman Tim Krul. Capped at every level from U15 to senior level for his country, over 180 Premier League appearances and Europa League experience but still some cried out to his signing.

Naturally the emotional ties to a local lad will be strong, but in the words of Farke himself “the keeper position is too important for a side to take any risks,” and the chance for a Championship side to sign a player of Krul’s calibre cannot be an opportunity missed. Krul is a player who fits the mould of goalkeeper Farke wants, and crucially, that is more important than the geography of their homeland.

With the Sean Raggett situation there are no local ties to endure him to the Norwich faithful, but we have seen in years gone by how a player plucked from the lower leagues tends to grab the affection of some fans… the Cody McDonald effect as I saw it perfectly put.

Raggett’s physical presence is hard to deny, standing close to two metres tall it does not take much working out where his strengths lay. Defending is an art form that has changed over the years and Raggett is possibly what you would call a throw back, big and strong but the technical side of his game is sadly lacking.

Again using the European sides mentioned previously in the Remi Matthews analysis, John Stones at Manchester City, Barcelona had a midfielder in Javier Mascherano playing at centre-back for a number of years.

Matt Hummels now at Bayern Munich but previously at Farke’s former club Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool again with a world record signing for a defender in Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk highlights the importance of a technically sound footballer. Not just one who can defend but can break the lines or maintain possession of the football in the style being implemented.

Looking at the pass percentages of the three main centre-backs from last season in Timm Klose, Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmerman you can why it would be hard for Raggett to break into the team.

In Hanley, who you would say is, arguably, the technically weakest of the three, he completed 75% of his passes averaging 39 passes a game.

Klose completed over 83% of his passes with an average of 53 passes per game but the most efficient of the back three was Zimmerman with a completion record of 87% with the same passes per game as Hanley.

Without doubt the foundations are there, and with midfielder Ben Godfrey having a game in the pre season friendly against Luton beside Hanley at centre-back (Mascherano-esque) and the addition of Krul you can clearly see the thinking and strategy as the Farke project enters its second season.

So being able “to do a job” is no longer the premise of the modern day player, especially in a club trying to install a possession type of playing style in the way Norwich are. There is no room for sentiment anymore, the local lad or the lower league player does not get extra leeway but if it brings success and wins games is there really any reason to complain?

Mark Neale

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