Paddy Davitt verdict: Time for real leadership at Norwich City
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Forget promotion. Forget the Premier League. Forget talk of medium to long term strategy.
Forget berating officials. Forget, for the purposes of trying to find an end to this wretched Championship run, the debilitating catalogue of injuries buffeting a smaller squad, by design we must remember - shorn of big earners and experience last summer.
That is the climate. Those are the adverse conditions and the swirling currents Norwich have no choice but to try and navigate.
We know the board’s primary objective, from the latest accounts. We know the scale of the financial issues. We know mistakes have been made. The soundbites from Ed Balls and Steve Stone at the last week’s annual meeting underlined for any who needed confirmation this is a new, uncertain era at Carrow Road.
Those are the facts. That is the mitigation. But seven games in the Championship without a win is still unacceptable. Scoring twice only once in a league game since August 19 is damning. Slim rations at Carrow Road are increasingly difficult to digest. Or the compliant manner this group appear to fold. Or the over-reliance on James Maddison, the declining output of Nelson Oliveira and a midfield mix unfit for purpose in front of a defence that no longer can adequately protect Angus Gunn. Footballing factors quite separate from the worrying forecasts on thee balance sheet.
Stuart Webber knows it. Daniel Farke knows it. Patience is in short supply.
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Farke has done well to keep his cool to this point of the season. At no juncture has he sought to hide behind the financial straightjacket he is operating within.
As he himself said on Friday, prior to another disappointment in Wales, he knew what he was signing up for when he swapped Dortmund for Norfolk.
He will be judged on his ability to maximise the most from resources that for all the negative drawbacks should be producing a higher level of productivity.
Alex Tettey could not get a look in during the early phase of Farke’s reign. Now he appears indispensible.
Farke, commendably, restored the Norwegian to his line up after that debacle at Millwall. Tettey was paired alongside Tom Trybull in a new look formation that afforded an exposed defence greater protection. It was a proactive, bold, pragmatic move on the part of the head coach who clearly favours a more refined brand of football.
But the trend since Tettey’s injury absence and that derby win at Ipswich has been regressive.
Cardiff, for all the angst about the performance of the referee, displayed both sides of Farke’s Norwich.
The visitors were better, far better prior to the interval than a side who started the contest in second place and unbeaten in the league at home. Norwich looked composed in possession and imaginative in their forward motions. But the residual failure to embellish promise with punch left them exposed to a stinging response from Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds.
There was a depressing inevitably about the outcome - irrespective of the contentious nature of Cardiff’s leveller. The chasm between Norwich’s midfield and backline as the hosts moved through gears revived echoes of the worst moments at the Den.
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Cardiff surged with intensity and venom we rarely see from the men in yellow and green. When the ball is worked into Oliveira in recent weeks it is laboured, predictable and just as likely to end with a miscued slice from the striker arrowing towards the corner flag.
The medium to long term can wait. Farke needs to show his pragmatic side again.
The German arrived with a reputation as a progressive coach and a developer of young talent. But he needs to show he can manage, right now.
This is not about coaching prowess on the training ground but matchday. Three points and goals. Plural.
This is not a blip. This is a slump and Farke, along with his staff and players must take responsibility.
The season is listing, the ship rudderless. It needs direction and strong leadership.
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