There will be many things that could prove important to Daniel Farke’s Norwich City as they look to survive in the Premier League this season.
Having dominated the Championship, after a slow start, the Canaries face an entirely different problem this season.
To put it in at it’s most basic, they must survive and stay in the top flight.
There are differing opinions on that and how newly promoted clubs should go about it but this season is different. The three newly promoted clubs, Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa are all sticking to their principles and they are taking the game to their opponents.
No matter who they are facing, all three haven’t, so far, changed their principles and it’s working, sort of.
Last weekend, Sheffield United took their attacking style to the Champions of Europe, Liverpool and only narrowly lost 1-0 due to a goal keeping blunder from Dean Henderson.
The Blades’ manager, Chris Wilder spoke about several things after the game besides that clanger from Henderson, including the importance of taking your chances and he also name checked the win that Norwich had achieved over Champions Manchester City a couple of weeks earlier, easily the result of the season so far.
So how are Norwich going to hope to survive in the top flight?
Two defeats on the road in the matches after that Man City win have brought all of us back down to earth.
The main principle of Farkeball is possession of the ball and using it wisely. Herr Farke’s main protagonist with the ball, his quarterback, is Moritz Leitner.
The cultured former Borussia Dortmund midfielder looks made for the Premier League and the stats back that up.
Leaders in Accurate Passes per 90 from the players of TheOther14 after #PL week 7. @Other14The @MoLeitner out in front for @NorwichCityFC.#NCFC #BHAFC #LCFC #WatfordFC #SaintsFC #EFC #WHUFC pic.twitter.com/wZF4N4QdDT
— TheOther14 (@Other14The) October 3, 2019
Leitner is looking very likely to be the key to City’s desire to dominate the ball and then use it well this season, particularly when it is not possible to dominate the ball.
On his own though, Leitner is not the biggest guy. I think that he needs an enforcer alongside him and when he played alongside Alex Tettey in the first half of last season, he had that defensive foil.
“Win the ball and give it Mo.”
You can almost imagine Daniel Farke giving that advice to Tettey because winning it himself is not Leitner’s biggest attribute. When he is on the ball he purrs like a machine as he moves forward looking for the next pass. He will, of course, already know where he’s going to move it on to and he’s always willing to have it back too, no matter how close the opposition are to him.
I remember that Rob Butler used to constantly refer to Jonny Howson as a “Rolls Royce of a player” although I never really agreed with him.
Howson was good for Norwich but he wasn’t as smooth an operator as Leitner is. If we’re comparing players to cars, Rob, then I think Leitner should be the one compared to a Rolls Royce.
There has been some talk that Leitner should play as a number 10, at least on the Vital Norwich Forum but I disagree.
Sure he could play there and he even wears the “10” shirt but for me, Mo is best employed where he is, prompting, probing and starting the next attack.