Date: 13th August 2018 at 8:59am
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In his latest blog, Nathan_NCFC talks about getting the balance right, supporting the team and management and getting ready for what could be a bumpy ride…

“I know it’s only been two games but it seems that a picture opposite to last season is what is currently being painted.

Last year as we all know, our chronic lack of goals was the major reason for our downfall, which went hand in hand with our lack of forward play or ability to get the ball into good positions quickly.

We managed just a shocking 49 goals in 46 games which is an average goals per game ratio of 1.06. Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch we weren’t too shabby and seemed somewhat reliable. We were in the top 8 in terms of clean sheets with Gunn shutting up shop 15 times in 46 games giving us a clean sheet record for 32.6 % of the season. Imagine if we had scored plenty more? A very different season.

This season, we’ve had goals galore so far. From the 8 pre-season games we netted 3 or more times in 3 of the 8 games and scored more than once in another 2. Similarly, in the first 2 games of the league season we’ve scored 5 goals, already continuing the trend.

The summer task of Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke ultimately, was to find more goals whilst working on a low budget, and then for DF to work on us showing more attacking intent and not pointless sideways and backwards passing that leads to nothing.

So far, I’ve genuinely found evidence of that, having watched both games. We’re getting far more balls forward, quicker, and in much better positions and clearly scoring more goals. At this rate, including the pre-season games, we’ve scored 15 goals in 10 games which would work out finishing the season with goals scored of around 69 which is +20 goals up on last season, when last season we had both Maddison and Murphy.

Granted, some of the games were against lower league teams, but we’ve seen the trend continue against championship opposition (even more so if anything, 5 goals in 2 at championship level = 115 goals a season if it were to continue).

But on the flip side of the coin it has come at the detriment of us conceding much more already, with City conceding 9 goals in pre-season (only kept 1 clean sheet in 8 which came against Crawley) and of course a further 6 goals in the first 2 league games.

So we’re looking at the age-old problem of scoring versus defending. We always conceded under Paul Lambert but outscored the opposition more often than not. The annual 6-7 goal thriller at Swansea was the highlight of my seasons.

Under Alex Neil, we could not defend for the life of us but were in the top 2 for goals scored. Farke came in at a time when we seriously needed improving in defence and he succeeded, but at the expense of our goals for column. This year he’s seemingly sorting out the goals but our defence looks like it’s going backwards again.

Only every few seasons you seem to get a team that is good at doing both and they always end up being the teams in those top positions. Three quarters of the league every season will say its this balance that’s cost them and we’re not any strangers to that.

Any manager or set up that can guarantee a club the solution to this problem would not be in the championship for long, if not at all. So the question is, what do we prefer as fans? Do we prefer to be hard to score against but not score many in return? Or do we want to see many goals but also accept we’re going to concede a lot more? Solid but boring v sloppy but entertaining, maybe?

We all want and expect Norwich City to be up there every year without fail but in reality it’s not going to happen, no matter how many times we kick managers out and bring new ones in, or how many players we swap.

As I think Tuckster said recently, and also something I’ve been pondering about is what goes up really does come back down.

Last season the very epitome of what we have wanted City to aim for, for many years, in becoming an established premier league side, Stoke, Swansea and WBA, all of which seemingly showed the way for clubs like ours, were relegated.

The way it’s done and how it’s possible, yet after all the Premier league experience and money those clubs have had to play with, all now find themselves in exactly the same boat and position as us!

All that hard work and years of sustainability and yet we’re now on a level footing (finances aside) with them and without any succcess. This has lead me to believe that when you genuinely expect outstanding seasons year after year (which I always have), you’re just leaving yourself open for an almighty fall and are left miserable and utterly let down every weekend.

It’s the kind of expectancy that is driving some fans to not even support the club anymore (there’s many on Facebook who say they no longer go to games and have no interest in NC). But in reality (without our yellow and green specs) and in the bigger picture of the rest of the 92 clubs in the football world in this country, we’re no different to anyone else, with exception to the top 6 in the Premier League,  for obvious reasons. Therefore, IMO as long as there are tangible signs of improvement we can get behind it and only look to change manager when it’s absolutely certain we’re only going backwards.

So the question is, are we at that point yet?

I’ve seen many saying that we are but I definitely believe we are absolutely not. The defence was a big improvement last season and it’s seemingly apparent that the attacking prowess and goal scoring are being improved this season, so let’s now give it time for as good a balance as we can get between the two to take shape and see where that takes us.

Two games at this level is just not enough time to decide whether we’re moving forward for the better or backwards for the worse. In any case, for now, let’s get behind Daniel Farke and the team and tighten the seatbelts because as we all know there’s one thing that being a Norwich City supporter uniquely guarantees, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Nathan_NCFC is a regular contributor to the Vital Norwich Forum

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