First of all, apologies to our dear editor Tuckster for my absence these past few weeks. A trip to South America kept me a bit off the grid.
I am sure everyone has had their say on social media in the past few hours about what went wrong with Norwich City at Millwall. We have lost individual battles, we have lost too many balls in the build up, we have been caught flat footed too often with long balls, our defenders are not good enough. Same old, same old.
For now, we will have to stick with possession based football, which in my opinion requires a lot of work and a lot of understanding with your teammates. It`s the hard way, especially when you have a new squad, a lot of young players and very raw talent.
In the summer I remember a common shout from Norwich supporters: “We need more championship proven players”. But the truth is that we lost more championship proven players than the ones we signed.
When Daniel Farke was appointed I remember going into deep thought mode about comparisons with David Wagner. Besides both of them being German and coaching Borussia Dortmund II, they couldn`t be more different. I even remember writing a piece for VN about how different they both were, and how Wagner and Klopp`s direct style philosophy differed with Farke and Tuchel`s possession based approach.
And personally I am quite concerned that our possession based football may not be suitable for this division, nor our talent level, nor our setup.
We have absolutely no width going forward. It seems we try to get through defences almost thinking that they are ghosts and that those players are not really standing in our way. When teams close up the only way we have created chances is through some improbable pass mastery.
We should exploit the whole width of the pitch and the only players who have done it effectively have been Josh Murphy and Ivo Pinto at times. The whole width of the pitch should be used, especially in possession based football.
In a more direct approach you can get away with long balls through the middle to exploit the back line of the opposition. I do not recall a single time that we have used the speed of Marley Watkins or Josh Murphy to wreck the back line of our opponents with long balls. We are completely one dimensional.
It also seems that every player is camping in their own piece of the pitch. Not enough mobility, not enough one-two plays and not enough overloading different areas of the pitch to create mismatches.
The problem with managers that have a strong identity with a specific football philosophy is that they are too rigid and do not adapt when the tide turns. The modern manager needs to understand problems and adapt quick to solve issues that will appear throughout the season.
I am sure Mr. Farke knows and understands well what his team is doing wrong and which correction methods he will apply to avoid the same common mistakes of the past. And hopefully use the international break to figure out Plan B and Plan C, when plan A, also known as Possession based football, is not working.
I personally think that we do not need to dominate possession in every game, we need to get points. It would be naive to think that in this division, teams would be able to dominate their opponents and win all their games by “exhausting the opposition” with their ball movement.
And to be quite honest, I wouldn`t mind having 10% of possession and winning the game 1-0 with a goal in the 90th minute with our only shot on goal one in a while. Too much work on trying to keep the ball and our players might have forgotten why they are playing the game.
A few years ago I read a book about football statistics. The concept I remember the most was data on expected goals per football event. In common English, it means how often would a goal be scored at a certain situation in a football match.
For example, a corner, as much as we love them and celebrate each time we earn one, has an extremely low conversion into goals.
On the opposite side of the coin, a staggering stat: the footballing event that produces more goals per event after a penalty shot is losing the ball in the build up.
And in possession football, there is an extremely high risk of losing the ball in the build up. Especially when players are low on confidence or bluntly not adept at the system. If you own possession but don`t know how to use it, you can become your own worst enemy.
I hope the coaching staff realise that flexibility is the key to this division, and sometimes results need to be ground out. The only League game we’ve won this season, we lost the possession battle.
I remember Cedric Anselin at Canary Call on Saturday saying that football is all about confidence. How right is he. At this moment we are at a point in which form is being set for the rest of the season. And if the ship is not straightened, it will soon drift ashore and be lost on the rocks.