Heaviest Championship defeat at home for Norwich City since October 2006 (4-1 defeat to Burnley) #ncfc #lufc pic.twitter.com/uBRFboQQAg
— NCFC Numbers (@ncfcnumbers) August 25, 2018
Wednesday’s win was needed to reinstall some much needed confidence in both players and supporters alike. The outcome was ultimately more crucial than the process.
Sure, the initial 80 minutes was a lethargic and lacklustre performance devoid of any real quality; it required both patience and bottle to come out with a win. But, they did, and in this division, sometimes digging in and grinding out results is required in a search for points.
Leeds United oozed quality. Their power surges were aesthetically pleasing and back up their league position.
They were the better team, they played the better football, and there is no denying that. But the space they were given to operate in, coupled with the lack of tactical nous to change things was self-destructive for the hosts.
The Championship is a division all about levels, and Leeds displayed why they are the early pacesetters in the league.
Farke is getting a lot of leeway in terms of us allegedly “being in transition™️” and getting to grips with English football. Meanwhile, Bielsa has taken a squad that finished 13th last season to top after 5 games and playing some scintillating football. #ncfc
— chris (@Keels811) August 25, 2018
Marcelo Bielsa’s transformation in two months has been incredible. In regards to personnel, this is a similar side to the one deployed by Paul Heckingbottom in the latter stages of last season, but they now possess an injection of energy whilst being encouraged to be brave on the football.
The tempo at which they attack and operate is a pleasure to consume.
They didn’t reinvent the wheel. It wasn’t a formidable and unpredictable method of winning a football match, but it was an incredibly effective one. Simply, Leeds full backs retained the width, and this allowed them to move the ball with ease. From there, it was all about overloading the wide areas and penetrating Norwich with balls round the sides and through the middle.
Off the ball, the noticeable difference in how both sides operated was pertinent. Norwich lacked energy and offensiveness in their press, whereas Bielsa had Leeds hunting in packs with such energy and hunger.
The difference of levels were graphically illustrated, the opposition are among the contenders whilst Norwich occupy the ‘other’ category. Any optimism that was created in that fixture against Preston has now evaporated.
The manner in which Daniel Farke’s troops retreated and allowed United to assert their game plan, particularly after an impressive opening period, is ultimately what will frustrate supporters.
Revolution was the expectation but stagnation has been the reality.
Leeds have played some wonderful football today. As much as I hate them, I wish we could produce some quality play like them ?? #ncfc
— Parry (@ParrisNatasha93) August 25, 2018
Farke’s football lacks energy and his selections appear naive at best. Deploying Louis Thompson in a wide right role when his combativeness could have been better served in the central phase of the pitch is inexcusable.
Hindsight is a glorious tool in football. In retrospect, to play Alex Tettey on Wednesday when he was visibly fatigued after leaving the field against Sheffield United with cramp and not saving him for the swashbuckling Leeds is a bizarre and short term piece of management.
Tettey’s presence may not have made any improvement to the overall outcome, but Norwich’s inability to win the ball from Leeds was due to the lack of a natural ball winner. Whenever Norwich plays without Tettey in the engine room, they display a soft underbelly.
Likewise, the lack of pitch time that Ben Godfrey is currently getting is harmful to his development. After a breakthrough season at Shrewsbury Town, to hinder Godfrey’s development by not playing him is absurd.
Question marks surrounding Tim Krul are increasing.
His pedigree has been well documented, but Norwich have seen a goalkeeper who is off the pace and making consecutive errors.
Krul needs to improve, but given the fact he hasn’t played a full season since 2015/16, coupled with his comeback from a major injury means he requires time to get up to full speed. The fact he wasn’t given a full pre-season to bed in may be the reason for his initial struggle.
Supporter’s frustration came from Norwich’s lack of press. Norwich stood off and allowed Leeds to implement their style on proceedings. They meekly accepted the quality of Leeds without change or adaptation to their approach.
It’s disappointing to read Farke’s quotes where he highlights their quality as an excuse for a heavy defeat. If a team is better, then you work harder, you press higher. You don’t allow them to play their way. Norwich did that.
I fear Farke is losing the most patient of patient Norwich fans with some of his tactics and comments #ncfc
— Matt Lewendon (@matty_leww) August 25, 2018
In any division, you have to be responsive to the climate of the game. It was apparent quickly that Leeds were dominating and the lack of risk or attempt to change was frustrating from a Norwich point of view.
There is a genuine lack of stubbornness and grit in this Norwich team. If it all turns sour, then who do Norwich possess that can grind in and pull them out?
With every loss inflicted on Norwich, the doubt surrounding Farke’s capabilities increase.
His logical pragmatism rejects the emotional and instinctive side of the game. Farke’s game is based on numbers. As a former Sporting Director, his style is based on probabilities, statistics and percentages.
If Norwich shoot more, they will score more and so on, that’s the premise of Farke’s methodology.
He is a man who struggles to connect to supporters.
The raw emotion of football is placed second and in a cut and thrust division whereby the game is played with the heart firmly on the sleeve, that’s a potentially dangerous stance.
His ability to coach players shouldn’t be rejected, he has made James Maddison a £20m player plus through his coaching, helped Josh Murphy gain a Premier League move and helped give Onel Hernandez an end product in six months. In regards to constructing a team however, he struggles to find equilibrium and motivation. The way he speaks to the press is logical and pragmatic, but sometimes football needs to be off the cuff and spontaneous.
He’s a tactician. Tactically, his changes won that game on Tuesday night but he doesn’t give his players a freedom to operate. They aren’t unleashed to express themselves but are instead dictated to deliver his ideology. That’s not a criticism, but it has to operate like clockwork, efficiently and requires the right cogs to move collectively.
They are constantly thinking about carrying out the philosophy and the theory aspect of Farke’s football and that’s, maybe, why they appear to lack the ‘up and at them’ approach many teams favour.
Norwich still look unbalanced, they still lack cohesion and a severe lack of fight. People will cling onto the opening fifteen, but for the most part, Norwich sat in and let a side beat them. If you don’t possess the same quality, then you make the game a boxing match, you make it hell. You don’t sit back and admire the quality of your opponents.
There are more than one way to be successful.
They have the perfect pick-me-up in the East Anglian Derby. That tussle at Portman Road could prove pivotal as to the mood of the current situation. If they can capture the emotion and mood of the Canary nation in that fixture and extend Ipswich’s years of hurts, then, at least temporarily, the pressure will be off.
Should Ipswich get three points at Norwich’s expense, then the reaction to the defeat will be loud and unforgiving.
This Norwich side feels light-years away from the expected level at this point of the process. The unfinalised nature of the squad and the increasingly unpopular philosophy means Farke could find himself walking on ice in terms of supporters feelings should they lose that Derby.