Michael Bailey: Precarious management and Norwich City's Millwall revenge
In his weekly column, Norwich City correspondent Michael Bailey talks the art of football management and where Daniel Farke fits in.
Sometimes it’s hard not to latch on to a concept once you hear it – and that is exactly my story following Paul Hurst’s interview in a recent podcast.
The revelation? The six-game rule: the first definitive indication I’ve heard, of the point at which managers start fretting about the sack.
So the rule goes, six games without a win and managers start to acknowledge that it might be time to fear the worst.
That said, it wasn’t until Claude Puel was relieved of his Leicester City duties a few days ago that it really struck me.
Puel was sacked after a six-game winless run. His two Foxes predecessors – Claudio Ranieri and Craig Shakespeare – were also fired after the same spell.
Hurst actually acknowledged he managed far better, making it through to 14 games with just one victory.
In fact, Ipswich must be ignoring the rule altogether given Hurst’s 0.6 points per game record over 15 is currently equalled by Paul Lambert over 20.
Lambert’s current winless run actually stands at seven league games and all with, from what I understand, Town paying some hefty wages for their January loan signnings; they are covering one player’s £19,000 per week wages in full.
In fairness, it seems the Scot has a completely free-pass until the League One action starts.
It turns out Daniel Farke survived two of his own seven-game winless league runs last season – and look how that is ending up.
The management game with its ups and downs really is so tricky.
Take David Wagner. Such a success at Huddersfield, heralded as the next big thing – yet the Premier League appeared to cloud his path and ultimately, he hadn’t achieved enough to be considered for a job like the one Puel recently vacated; a job that would have surely been Wagner’s next step up the English ladder.
Paul Lambert walked out on Norwich City, not because he was tired – but because Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers, rather than him, was the key candidate considered for the Liverpool job following Kenny Dalglish’s final spell. Lambert was a man in a hurry, who felt he had to make another step from Norwich to be considered – and chose Aston Villa. He never got so close again.
Perhaps Wagner’s intensity at the Terriers may have also meant it was going to burn out quicker than some – which in turn may bode well for Farke, where patience in possession could be equally a nod to longevity in success.
City’s visit to Millwall in August 2017 underlined the work and subtlety Farke needed to address and embrace if Norwich’s project was to survive in the Championship, never mind thrive. And a lot has changed since then.
Only one player who started that game is set to start on Saturday, while this season’s results at QPR (1-0 win) and Sheffield Wednesday (4-0 win) compared to last term’s drubbings – 4-1 and 5-1 respectively – show the lessons that have already been learned, and the quality now at Farke’s fingertips.
Indeed, perhaps the only anxiety left is the fact Farke’s current contract runs out this summer and all the uncertainly that could bring; what would usually be the perfect storm in the most erratic of professions.
Unless of course, the Canaries news we are all waiting to hear is now just a case of when rather than if…
• The PinkUn Show continues to go from strength to strength – and it was brilliant to have Norwich City chief operating officer Ben Kensell on this week’s special panel edition, live from The Nest.
What an impressive facility that is already, by the way.
Kensell was alongside City’s director of communications Joe Ferrari, Canaries Trust vice chair Mandie Thorpe and the Community Sports Foundation’s head of development Jackie Thornton – and it’s well worth watching the show, which you can do at the top of this column.
We got through a lot and some of it exclusive, including Kensell’s reaction to Leeds’ spygate penalty and the prospect of some huge away allocations before the season is done.
Yet there was still so much we didn’t get round to covering, such as season ticket sales for next season. For the record they are – unsurprisingly – very strong. Indeed the club is likely to hit its limit very soon, given whichever division City end up playing in next season, every club has to preserve a certain percentage of casual tickets for sale.
In case you were not aware, The PinkUn Show is broadcast every Wednesday evening LIVE on Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Twitter and at pinkun.com where it takes your questions and comments. You can also watch and review the broadcast in the same places once going off-air.
• Spygate may be one thing, but Leeds’ form is another. It’s now six defeats from 11 games in all competitions, which reminded me that after City’s win at Elland Road I was told the United squad was feeling leggy.
Marcelo Bielsa may see it differently but whatever the problem, he needs to find a swift solution.
West Brom’s visit certainly represents a keen opportunity but if it doesn’t come, we could be in the midst of a pivotal period.
The maths is really tightening up too, now the run-in is coming into view.
Nine of Norwich’s remaining 12 opponents are in the bottom half of the table, while 11 victories would guarantee promotion regardless of what anyone else does – and they will drop points, just like City will.
But boy, it isn’t half whetting the appetite. Let’s see what we get next.
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