Melissa Rudd: Getting the basics right must be the start for Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke
PUBLISHED: 17:03 14 August 2017
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There’s nothing quite like the first home league game of the season.
The hope, the optimism, both of which a draw at Fulham had propelled to higher levels than many fans had perhaps anticipated. It meant for a much improved atmosphere at Carrow Road, for the first 26 minutes at least.
The last time Sunderland had won at Carrow Road, in April 2014, fans left knowing the writing was on the wall. There would be no way back in City’s battle to avoid Premier League relegation after a masterclass from Sam Allardyce and his men, reaffirming the former’s reputation as a survival specialist.
It could be argued that Norwich haven’t recovered since that 3-0 mauling in a match that almost became season-defining, such was its significance in determining who would be able to escape those three relegation places.
Crumbling in crucial fixtures and underperforming when they needed to perform most. It had become a re-occurring tale in recent top flight seasons, the consequences of which Alex Neil was never able to fully shake off during the last campaign.
Supporters asked for change, and on a grand scale. Daniel Farke’s appointment didn’t just signify a new manager, but a transformation of how City would do things on and off the pitch. It would be foolish to believe everything would click into place within the first eight days of a season.
Patience will need to be exercised when getting used to the German’s brand of high pressing, possession-based football. It will have its pitfalls, especially when players are still getting used to being on the pitch together. Yet it was an age old problem that caused Norwich’s undoing on Sunday. It doesn’t matter what style of football you play, adopting the basic principles of defending should be a given.
It was witnessing their team concede three sloppy goals that frustrated City fans more than any number of sidewards and backwards passes. The ease at which Norwich were undone by the simplicity of a flicked on goal-kick, an unopposed defensive header from Yanic Wildschut that he directed straight to Lee Cattermole in the build-up for the second and failing to both stop a cross coming in or mark Lewis Grabban goal-side for the third.
Defensive calamities of that ilk aren’t a bi-product of the style of play Farke wants to impose on this squad. We’ve been watching the same for two years now.
The manager recognised those weaknesses in his post-match interview, although it’s doubtful even he didn’t expect to have to use the word ‘sloppy’ in describing a defensive performance quite so soon in his Norwich reign.
With all the talk about Nelson Oliveira in the build-up it was no surprise to see him take a spot on the bench. Farke said the matter was dealt with, he left him out of the midweek EFL Cup squad, and maybe yesterday’s selection was down to the simple fact he favours Cameron Jerome over him.
Either way, perhaps the bigger problem Norwich face is whether Oliveira or Jerome fit into the system Farke likes to play. With City’s midfield opting to play so many short and sharp passes through the middle into feet it makes you wonder if either striker is mobile enough to fully take advantage.
Sunday’s was a performance that perhaps threw up more questions than it did answers. The good thing for all concerned is that Farke’s side will have the chance to put those misgivings right so soon with the visit of QPR on Wednesday. Perhaps that’s when supporters’ patience will really be put to the test.