Matt Howman: Let’s forget about the ‘p’ word for now and enjoy the ride
PUBLISHED: 14:32 30 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:55 13 November 2018
Nine weeks ago, Saturday, August 25, I trudged along Rouen Road back to my car thinking what a long season this could turn out to be.
The football was becoming increasingly painful to watch and the results had left us sitting worryingly at the bottom end of the table.
Farkeball or whatever it is we’re naming it, wasn’t clicking. Our 70 percent possession sat predominantly between our centre backs, with Christoph Zimmermann playing only sideways passes and Grant Hanley looking to lump it out towards a wing, whether a player was out there or not.
Defensively we were beginning to look much better after Daniel Farke ousted James Husband, shipping him quickly out on loan, and dropping fan favourite Ivo Pinto for Max Aarons. Jamal Lewis came back into the side following injury and Timm Klose has formed an excellent partnership with Zimmermann after Hanley picked up an injury, but the results just weren’t going our way.
And then along came Ipswich.
We should have won that game. If it wasn’t a derby it would be one of those games you look back on and see two missed points because let’s face it, they were useless.
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Following Moritz Leitner’s goal it was almost as though something sparked into life for Norwich. Balls started to zip around the pitch and second balls started to be won, it clicked.
Game after game since we’ve improved dramatically and nine weeks on from that 3-0 battering from Leeds I left the ground thinking this is some of the best football I’ve seen at Carrow Road.
Brentford was a scrappy one all truth told, but it was the Aston Villa game where the football was at times, scintillating.
I would happily put a case forward to anyone that we should drop Alex Tettey for home games and play a Leitner-Tom Trybull duo because what you lose in defensive capability you more than make up for by being constantly on the front foot, in complete control of the midfield.
We’re now winning, losing and playing our football as a team. The work-rate is infallible and we’ve found an excellent balance between youth and experience, and our youth players are all coming on leaps and bounds.
Fourth place at this point in the season leaves us interestingly poised in the lead up to a busy Christmas schedule. The club may decide to go after one or two in the transfer window if they felt a promotion push could become serious, but I think that could be dangerous. I’d rather not rock the boat, continue as we are and use any spare funds to try and bring Jordan Rhodes on board with a permanent contract.
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Why pay over the odds for a new player that may or may not deliver for the team? Do you look to bring in a Premier League ready player who absolutely won’t fit in with Farke’s setup or a player who, six months later, is being replaced if we managed to get promoted.
I’m just pleased that’s become a problem the club will have to tackle in January. After that Leeds defeat we looked so far away from the top end of the table I had mid-table as the high point we would be aiming for.
As it is, it’s too far down the line to think about promotion, I prefer the Championship anyway…
Farke is finally delivering the football he promised when he joined Norwich City and is doing things the right way so for me, this season is now about getting the most we can out of our squad, enjoy as many games as we can in the Carabao and FA Cup and focus on playing the best football we can.
We shouldn’t now look to put pressure on delivering a top six finish after a good run. I’m happy to let Farke develop a team for the future, as long as he’s finally finished with side to side passing around the back four!