Matt Howman: Farke needs to find a balance to keep Norwich City moving forward
PUBLISHED: 19:34 26 February 2018
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Norwich City extend their unbeaten run in the league to six games now, with four consecutive draws offering the best and worst of Farke’s first season at Carrow Road.
Defensively Norwich now look a much more stable outfit with Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley and Timm Klose putting together a string of outstanding performances over the past six matches. The exciting talent of Jamal Lewis is also not to be forgotten, coming on leaps and bounds and rapidly making the left back position his own.
The most challenging aspect of late however has been finding the back of the net.
Farke’s systematic approach to attacking play has been less than effective against well-drilled and organised Championship teams.
City’s slow, lethargic transition from defence to attack is becoming far too predictable for teams to defend against and scoring more than a goal a game seems to pose more questions of the opposition’s defending than our attacking prowess.
Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Bolton was a perfect example of why Norwich currently sit at the lower end of the mid-table bracket in the Championship.
MORE: Six things Michael Bailey learned from Bolton draw
There were plenty of chances created in the first half which failed to be converted. However, against a Bolton side that from the first minute had set up to take a draw, Norwich rarely showed the urgency to penetrate the defence or apply lengthy spells of pressure in the attacking third.
Farke was quick to point to Bolton’s time wasting as a continuous drain on the match, however it was our own lethargy that stalled momentum. At times there were more sideways passes than I’d have expected to have seen in a Six Nations match.
Towards the latter part of the second half where you’d expect the home side to be frantically looking to unlock the defence and create chances, Norwich didn’t change the approach going forward which gave Bolton a much easier job of seeing out the game.
The biggest disappointment for me was that even the six minutes of added on time gave no impetus into the match, we looked like we could have played until 8pm and not scored.
The period of four consecutive draws has yielded just 12 shots on target. Farke’s passing style may dominate the possession stats but it’s not getting the fans jumping up from their seats.
An excellent piece on Sunday by Melissa Rudd made a great point that football comes down to fine margins and had Moritz Leitner scored in the first half, the post-match words would have taken a much more upbeat tone. However, for a number of weeks now the same question has sat with me, do we need to have so many defensive players on the pitch at home?
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Had Klose been fit, Farke may have opted to continue with the five at the back. As it was, Onel Hernandez came into the side but even with Josh Murphy and Hernandez on the pitch we didn’t take advantage and play fast, expansive football.
Two defensive midfielders enables us to dominate possession yet when it comes to going forward we can’t get bodies up the pitch quickly enough to support and attack when the opposition is out of shape.
The bottom line is that Murphy and Oliveira aren’t Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero so to emulate that style of football at this level is very difficult. You can see the frustrations at times on the pitch, James Maddison for one is constantly seen frustrated at the lack of options and movement when he’s driving forward, Leitner the same on Saturday.
With safety inevitable and the play-offs almost out of reach, it’s surely time to prepare for next season.
Gamble with the tactics and find what works with the players, we could be onto something good with Farke but we need to find the balance between defence and attack to be a credible promotion candidate.