Michael Bailey: Left options and attacking threat – Farke's logic for Philip Heise's Norwich City move
Norwich City correspondent Michael Bailey looks at Philip Heise’s deadline day move and how Canaries’ chief Daniel Farke plans to use the former Bundesliga star following his early arrival from Dynamo Dresden.
It says a lot that Norwich City’s only senior signing this January transfer window is someone who was set to arrive in the summer anyway.
From past stories of late night decisions, last gasp judgements and rolls of the recruitment dice just as likely to cost millions as boost prospects; the arrival of Philip Heise offers further evidence of the structure and planning the Canaries now live by.
Whether the free agent signing planned for the summer had been moved forward six months and a cost of around six figures for the benefit of the player or either club, is a moot point.
For Dynamo Dresden, a summer spent battling the advances of the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers – and indeed Norwich City – took its toll as Heise, 27, entered the final year of his current deal.
Leaving Heise out of Dresden’s final game before 2.Bundesliga’s winter break was designed to put pressure on the player to sign a new deal. In the end, it merely pushed him into City’s outstretched arms.
At that point, an early move for a cash bonus – albeit not the £3m Wolves had been touted with while the sun was still warm – clearly felt like the right move for the German second tier side.
The player himself will no doubt benefit greatly too. An early start for his shot at adapting to English football, with the chance to prove useful for a side gunning for a Premier League return.
Such opportunities don’t come along for many players, never mind a new recruit.
And while Norwich may yet wonder where their head coach’s own contract situation will lead, the opportunity of a little bit of fresh blood in a finely balanced squad borders on the perfect scenario for any potential future success.
“To be honest I think it’s crucial we haven’t had a big change like last January,” admitted Farke.
“It was a successful window; Moritz Leitner for example was crucial pretty quickly – but he’s been even better this season.
“We had a big fluctuation last January and had Alex Pritchard out before that. This time we’ve been pretty consistent and successful in our way of playing. It’s just one loss – after a floodlight disaster – in the last four and a half months. So in general that’s good consistency and to go further on with this group is also quite important.
“Then to have a bit of fresh blood – especially with the disappointing injuries – and also adding some good Under-23 options in the last few days, I think we have a good sized group and I’m happy at the moment.”
While not every City signing since the model of sporting director Stuart Webber was introduced as been a raging success, no one can fault each one’s respective logic.
And once again, Farke can list what Heise brings – not just to his squad but to the man in possession of City’s left-sided defensive berth, Jamal Lewis.
“I think there are many topics,” said Farke. “With Jamal he is a pretty young player – although it seems like he’s been playing for ages in this position.
“We’ve got in Philip, still a young player, but he’s also experienced, a good age with many games – a couple in the Bundesliga and many in the second tier. But he is also still heading up the mountain and not down.
“He has 90 games in the second tier, seven goals and 22 assists – so he’s more or less been involved in 30 goals; for full back this is a really good average.
“So it totally fits our style because having attacking full-backs has been one of our strengths this season – with assists from Jamal and Max (Aarons) too.
“Philip will accept it will take some time until he’s totally adapted and integrated – but he’s also at an age where he can bring his strengths in.
“In the recent weeks we have played on the left with Onel (Hernandez) and his right foot, also Todd Cantwell who likes to cut inside. To have Philip now – like if we wanted to go with more crosses – then he is also good option for us.”
Not that Lewis necessarily needs to fear for his place in the long-term either. Farke has proven flexible and subtle in his Championship game plans – and there is little indication he will do anything different with Heise over the coming months.
“He is a different guy to Jamal – one topic is his experience, but also how he plays the role,” added Farke. “Jamal always closes the wings and also is pretty good in defensive terms. I think he can improve in delivering assists and goals, and that’s a strength Philip adds to the squad.”