Transition. Project. Work in progress.
All buzzwords used by custodians of Norwich City this season and for all the positivity and freshness which Norwich entered the season with, has seemingly been replaced for boredom, apathy and scepticism.
Fan expectations, for the most part, have been reasonable and the patience pleaded for by Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke have been, on the most part, received. Even in the period of adjustment whereby thrashings were handed out by Millwall and Aston Villa, supporters waited in hope for progression.
Admittedly, there have been periods or games whereby progressive elements and signs of Norwich heading in the correct direction have been witnessed, but now, with Norwich lying in the mediocrity of midtable, there was a real opportunity to move towards next season with positivity and progression.
The facts are simple, Norwich lay worse off than a year previously, with money drying up and the likelihood of key assets being absent next season, you can’t blame supporters for being worried.
This was far from progression, this was closer to capitulation.
Much like Millwall, Norwich found the physicality and direct aerial thrust of QPR too much to contend with. This was Groundhog Day. Norwich responded to that infamous day at the Den in stirring fashion, and that is something which supporters need to witness a repeat of.
This was a one-dimensional performance whereby impressive, or even average, performances were hard to find. The usual suspects who have carried Norwich for periods were absent or lacklustre at Loftus Road. This transitional season is carrying a serious risk of heading south at a rate of knots. The defensively adept formula Farke discovered within the three at the back formation has been traded in exchange for a search for more offensive output.
This switch to the defensive line of four has subsequently seen Norwich ship a vast entity of goals.
Without Alex Tettey mirroring a back three, the seemingly conquered defensive woes return. Four against Hull, two against Reading, one against Barnsley and two against Fulham, therein lies the problem. Norwich are simply not good enough whilst operating with a four at the back formation.
Positivity to scepticism, enthusiasm to apathy, Farke and co continues to solve problems only for them to reoccur. This was packaged as a bold new concept, a direction that would drastically enhance the fortunes of the club, both on and off the field. The reality has been a dramatic contrast, the same problems which have hindered progression this season linger.
Without Onel Hernandez, Norwich have reverted back to the lateral and inept offensive phases which continue to be hindered because of a lack of self belief.
This season was always going to be a free hit.
It was down to Webber and Farke to invigorate a football club diagnosed with short termism and feeling seriously apathetic. Yet whilst the club have adopted more strategic and progressive ideologies surrounding the academy.On the pitch Norwich have failed to adapt to the rigours of Championship football. Perhaps a more pressing concern.
Recalling previous Norwich sides, they all contained a streetwise nous and application whilst possessing an abundance of togetherness. These sides have contained key protagonists like Grant Holt and have all contained a spine which is strong and together both on and off the pitch.
Where are those protagonists in this current side? Where are those streetwise operators who can carry a team forwards? They are currently difficult to locate.
There is no denying the rebuilding process, but the support behind that is difficult when Norwich get thumped to a midtable side that weren’t tactically superior, but operated their game plan, however simply, well. Norwich are sleepwalking towards the end of the season and with the dangers of Maddison and Gunn not being in NR1 next season, the future doesn’t look to be getting any brighter.
Losing becomes acceptable when new systems are experimented with and attempts to rectify previous mistakes are tried. This was supposed to be about reinvention.
That said, now is not time to abandon this regime and begin again, that in itself is counterproductive. The club have committed to Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke and realistically, this was always going to be a lengthy and uninspiring season.
Farke has proven he can operate adeptly, albeit in peaks and troughs, but the squad requires surgery and the style needs refinement. Supporters are beginning to feel bored and a sense of apathy when watching their side this season, particularly at Carrow Road and for the club to begin justifying the most expensive season ticket prices in the league, there needs to be a return.
Players have improved, but collectively, Norwich have lacked consistency and the know how to conjure up anything of note. It is simple to perform and motivate yourself for cup games at Chelsea and Arsenal, but ultimately, those will be forgettable matches if your season is turgid.
Calls for patience are correct, Norwich shouldn’t scrap this model, but being blindly positive won’t breed positive results. Norwich’s recruitment has been a mixed bag and whilst being positive of plans for this summer, there is also scepticism about the future amongst supporters. If Norwich starts poorly or in the same vein, the murmurs will gather pace.
There is a real divide at present between those who believe in this project and those who are beginning to resent it. Nobody knows the answer, nobody knows if this will work or if it will fall on it knees, but supporters are beginning to witness old narratives remerge and that disconnect is returning.
Norwich don’t need to shake up, but they do need to wake up.