I was talking to a mate today about Saturday`s game against Bolton.
We spoke about the first half being among the best halves of football that Norwich have played this season, arguably the best, despite not scoring.
The possession was absolute and the number of chances created, albeit not taken, was excellent. The Canaries were totally dominant. They just missed a goal.
I`ve read the comments on my Sunday piece entitled “Frustrations Continue For Norwich” and understand them. We`ve played a lot worse than that and been 1-0 up at the break before, so Yes, I was happy with the way the first half had gone.
The reasons I think were obvious and as I said previously, I couldn`t see anything other than a Norwich win at the break. The fact it didn`t pan out like that at all was bitterly disappointing. Bolton pressed a bit more than they did in the first 45 and despite dominating possession again, we couldn`t create the same level or number of chances in the second half as we had in the first.
I have to congratulate Daniel Farke on the way that he`s built a solid defence in the second half of this season, once all his players have become fit. Chatting with my mate we both struggled to think of such a solid, reliable defence since the days of Fleming, McKay, Drury and Edworthy and that is almost 15 years ago. Anybody got a better defence between then and now?
Christoph Zimmermann has been a real find. Considering he came from Borussia Dortmund II, he`s adapted very well to the Championship rough and tumble. He obviously has the physical attributes and displays a level of commitment that as a fan watching, I want to see in all our players.
The biggest problem is of course scoring goals and that has been woefully poor this term.
Chance creation has been the biggest struggle, although in the first half on Saturday, there was no problem with that, just the finishing. The fact that they struggled to play so well in the second half is a worry for me and I`m sure it worries Farke as well.
I am by nature a “glass half full” kind of chap, so will always try to look for positives in anything I`m involved in. Constantly seeking or pointing out negatives is something that I have found to be destructive in my work life when exposed to those sorts of people. I try to avoid it but certainly don`t think I wear rose tinted spectacles for everything, especially with Norwich City.
I can see what Daniel Farke is trying to do and I can see that there is a change around the team since the turn of this year. Talk of transition has been bandied around by the club a lot this season but it doesn`t stop or even temper the expectations of the fan base, me included. I`m realistic though and know it`s the hope that always kills me.
We`ve just drawn the last four games in a row, dropping 8 points. Those 8 points would`ve seen us right in the play-off mix but of course, we could just as easily have lost those games than won them. My point is that the season was and arguably is, still alive.
I criticised the Canary call caller in my article who said “if he wanted to watch German football, he`d fly to Germany” and then took a bit of stick about linking the standard of German football to the success of their national team as being “lazy at best.”
I can`t agree with that because Germany made a huge investment in their youth coaching set ups after being beaten by Brazil in the World Cup Final of 2002. The changes were overseen and advised by Jurgen Klinsmann who managed the national team to a third placed finish at the 2006 World Cup before being replaced by his assistant, Joachim Low who went on to win the World Cup.
Spain did something similar after years of being in the wilderness of international football before winning Euro 2008 (beating Germany), the 2010 World Cup and then Euro 2012.
The standard of young players and the coaching they receive is directly based on the quality of training they receive in their formative years. That helps turn them into the players that will hopefully represent the national side. The success of the England youth sides in 2017 is hopefully the start of something good for England. I seem to remember reading that the FA had changed things around at youth level based on the Spanish and German models a few years ago.
Those young English players must be given a chance by their managers at club level though or it`s all a waste of time. Daniel Farke has given James Maddison and Jamal Lewis his trust and they have repaid him in spades.
Stuart Webber is of the opinion that German coaches are head and shoulders above English coaches at the moment and I know this because he told a friend of mine. He told him that their coaching methods and tactics are the best in Europe at the moment and that is why he went for a German Head Coach. German players are suited to English football due to the physicality and speed of the two games, so it`s not hard to see why we`ve gone more than a little German. The whole backroom team is also German incidentally.
So, I don`t think it`s lazy to suggest that German football is on a high at the moment and that`s why we`ve tapped into it.
Onel Hernandez looks like he`s going to be a player and showed in fits and starts on his debut that he offers pace and physicality. Tom Trybull, Christoph Zimmermann and of course, Moritz Leitner have shown that they are far from a “dire set of transfers.”
Marco Stiepermann has been solid as a left back but is basically a midfielder and we`ve not seen enough of Dennis Srbeny yet but I`m optimistic – you`ve probably picked that up by now.
Marcel Franke has been the only real miss out of the German contingent but it is widely quoted by any number of British managers that signing foreign players can always be a bit of a gamble, as they have to adapt to so many things, not just the game. Franke has been loaned out and could easily come back a better player in the summer, or he might not. You can`t win them all.
So yes, not scoring enough is a big problem but so was conceding lots of goals and Farke has solved that problem. There has to be a balance and I think he`ll get it right, given time and like it or not he`s going to be given that time and that, for now, is the right decision and it`s alright by me too.