Daniel Farke has certainly grown accustomed to needing a thick skin (or at least a thick parka) in two of the three years he has been Head Coach at Norwich City.
His first season at Carrow Road saw his side accused of a lack of a cutting edge, while his second saw the absolute opposite as his side stormed to the Championship title with the goals flying in.
Having returned Norwich City to the Premier League though, the thick coat is once again needed as, particularly since football re-started, there have been ever increasing grumblings on social media about whether or not he has got his tactics right, his team selection is correct or indeed, if his squad just isn’t good enough.
I tend to think that the answer is somewhere in the middle and that it was not impossible to think that a team which had seen off the second tier in such style might actually stand a decent chance of having a bit of a go in the Premier League. As it turns out though, all those pundits that just laughed when they heard that Norwich were only spending £750k last summer were right.
Norwich started the day knowing that they effectively needed to win five from their remaining six games and that a defeat at the hands of Brighton would virtually mean the game was up if not quite mathematically.
Having managed just five league wins all season and with a -35 goal difference, that was always going to be an improbable task. Since the re-start, other than the FA Cup defeat at the hands of Manchester United, performances haven’t been good enough and in the build up to this game, that was something that I suggested needed to improve if the Club were to go into next season, which is likely to start in September, with some sort of positivity around the place.
Once again, Farke decided to shuffle his pack and he again left Cantwell and Pukki on the bench, replacing them with Hernandez and Drmic. Hernandez I get but Drmic has looked an isolated figure at times since the re-start and Pukki just looks so far off the pace it’s unreal. He has not become a bad player overnight, so the problems must lie elsewhere, perhaps within him.
Ondrej Duda was brought into the club in January to help with goals from the number 10 position but has failed to look like he’ll ever get one at all in yellow & green. He will return to Berlin and I doubt he’ll be given a second thought after that by the Canary nation. I’m not sure what the matter is with Todd Cantwell. Maybe he’s tired and needs a rest as some young players do from time to time. Mind you, he would still surely do better than Duda, so why not play him at number 10? He still looks one of City’s brightest forward thinking attackers and if the club’s current plight means anything to anyone, it will matter to local boy, Todd.
Norwich started brightly with loads of ball possession but little in the way of threat, as has come to be our way of late. Huge gaps kept appearing on the flanks as the ever willing full-backs, Aarons and Lewis always looked to break and overload the wide areas. As Jermaine Jenas, commentating for BT Sport, pointed out time and again, eventually City would get caught out by that. He described our defending as being naive.
Eventually he was proven to be right as Aaron Mooy played a lovely ball in from the right flank, an area vacated by Lewis, and Trossard nicked the ball ahead of Ben Godfrey and into the goal from six-yards out. Timm Klose had been guilty of conceding a simple turnover in the build-up with an atrocious pass straight to Neal Maupay and this was with just 25 minutes showing on the clock.
That was that and neither side really looked like scoring again, aside from a Bissouma thunderbolt which went straight at Tim Krul and an Adam Idah header that struck the post and bounced away in stoppage time.
It was a thoroughly miserable game to watch and a long way from actually being entertaining.
The difference in defences was stark as Brighton, so easily undone by Manchester United in mid-week, made two or three great blocks from Onel Hernandez made by Lewis Dunk and Tariq Lamptey when City did get into a dangerous area.
Norwich’s passing is very easy on the eye but far too slow to be incisive, which is the same as it was in Farke’s first season in charge. Emi Buendia was the City man of the match as he scrapped and fought to try to haul his team back into the contest. He showed some excellent close control and passing but it wasn’t enough and no other forward player looked to have the same level of commitment to the cause apart from Hernandez, who made way along with Drmic and Duda on 67 minutes as Farke threw Cantwell, Pukki and Idah into the fray.
There were balls put across the box into the corridor of uncertainty on at least two occasions in the second half but none of our forwards gambled on the ball getting there, missing the chance of a simple tap-in.
”This game sums up our whole season. We started on the front foot but didn’t have the cutting edge or quality. Then there is one mistake” said Farke after the game.
The lack of goals is what has cost us, that and keeping them out obviously, and Norwich have now failed to score in 16 Premier League games, which is more than any other side this season. City are also on a run of five straight defeats since the return of football and they don’t look like winning one anytime soon. The Canaries now head to Watford next Tuesday evening, I wonder which team will look more up for it?
Farke needs to arrest this slide and quickly. Staying in the league, his “little miracle” has gone. It’s over, yet again, and we are in all but confirmation, the ultimate yo-yo club with this about to become our fifth relegation from the Premier League.
I want some passion, some steel, I want to see our players putting their bodies in front of balls, a video of Lewis Dunk might show the players what I mean by that, and I want to not go out with a whimper. What I am currently watching is toothless and literally 90 minutes of my life that I won’t get back.
Come on, where are the real Norwich City?!