So far, most of my articles this summer have been optimistic about the Canaries’ chances next season. If you read Vital Norwich regularly, you will know that I am generally a “glass half full” type of chap, although that doesn’t mean I wear rose tinted spectacles all the time.
So allow me to play Devil’s Advocate for a moment.
I’ve been thinking since the end of last season about what would happen if nothing really changes next season when compared to last season’s mostly turgid offerings on the field of play.
Lets be honest, it was a pretty dull watch at Carrow Road last year for most of the time. Other than a few highlights, such as Aston Villa and Leeds (Wexit) at home and, erm, I’m struggling to think of many others, I wasn’t particularly excited or entertained by my team.
That might sound a little harsh but at times, it felt like “football by numbers”, just going through the motions as the ball was passed sideways and backwards, occasionally forwards but not so often did it end up in the opposition net.
Daniel Farke has to improve things on the pitch and he will surely know that. Stuart Webber will definitely know that, if not only for the fact that he looks to have provided his Head Coach with a squad capable of challenging at the top end of the table.
The Canary Nation will not, I think, be as generous with their time and support though, if next season starts turning into the way the last went.
We have a fairly tough start with games against Birmingham, newly relegated West Brom, Sheffield United, Preston and Leeds in August, followed by a trip to Portman Road in the opening game of September.
Imagine if those games don’t go well?
Birmingham away is, despite their poor season last time out, a 50/50 game for me. It’s the first day of the season and we’re away, which is never a good thing and it will come down to who hits the ground running and who is the best prepared. I hope it’s us.
West Brom is another game that could go either way with the newly relegated Baggies still, at time of writing, having a Premier League squad. They could still lose some big names, like Salomon Rondon before we play them and again, it could depend on who is the best prepared.
Sheffield United away will be tough and a horrible game, as usual, against a well drilled and organised side. You know they will be ready and the same goes for Preston and Leeds too.
If Norwich City play like they did last season, then it’s quite conceivable that we may not have a very good start and that’s a nagging doubt in the back of my mind.
If we then (whisper it) went to Portman Road and were, god forbid, beaten. I think the natives would start getting restless. Pitchforks would be grabbed and torches lit and it would still only be the first weekend in September.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m hoping that it doesn’t come to that, nowhere near. I’ve met Daniel Farke a couple of times and I like him. He’s an affable, funny guy who talks a lot of sense about football. He has the same ideas about possession based football as Pep Guardiola and having watched Pep’s Barcelona and Manchester City teams extensively, I can tell you that it is a wonderful way to play football, but you knew that already.
It’s just we didn’t see it translated onto the pitch enough at Norwich..
I mentioned that Stuart Webber has provided a squad capable of a promotion tilt and I genuinely believe that. The squad has been improved overall because of the sales of Maddison, Murphy and Watkins and other than Maddison. I don’t think we’ll miss the other two.
Yes, Murphy scored ten goals and he was the club’s second top scorer but I fully expect that tally to be equalled by another midfielder, a Marshall, McLean, Hernandez or a Buendia.
We didn’t have a goal scoring striker last season and hopefully this season, in Rhodes or Pukki (hopefully both), we will and that should help replace the goals of Maddison.
There I go again, with my glass half full.
Getting back to the season’s start though, we need to hit the ground running if we are to have the promotion challenge that we all so desperately want. If we don’t and Farke isn’t able to get the best out of his new signings, as well as the existing players, then I don’t think that the Carrow Road faithful will be backward in coming forwards and letting their feelings be known.
As I say, I desperately hope it doesn’t come to that.