Stuart Hodge: Good to see Daniel Farke's way is paying dividends at Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 07:19 26 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:00 26 October 2018
I’ve written a couple of columns in this publication bemoaning the supporters who just don’t (or a least didn’t) seem to understand what Daniel Farke has been trying to do at Norwich City.
We’ve all heard them. The members of the Carrow Road congregation who implore the Yellows to ‘get the bloody ball forward’ and ‘stop tip-tapping it around’.
Not much over a year ago, the nay-sayers were already refusing to buy in to a fledgling football philosophy which was in the early stages of being implemented by a new, pretty inexperienced manager who had a formula he believed in but knew would take time to succeed.
At times last season, admittedly, it was difficult to watch Norwich City but it always felt like a transitional season.
It was the final campaign for some of the old guard, like Wes Hoolahan, we saw the emergence of a superstar and off the back of James Maddison’s sale and a few others we’ve banked enough money to keep things ticking over for the football club for the foreseeable future.
From a club sustainability perspective, that was progress. And on the footballing side, Farke seems to have finally found a means by which Norwich City can simultaneously play a possession-based game and carry a threat, whilst keeping things fairly tight at the back. That is a recipe for success.
After the defeat against Leeds earlier in the campaign, I was leaning towards the German struggling to see out the season as it seemed his Norwich City team was making all the same mistakes you were willing to give him leeway for during his first season. No lessons appeared to have been learned.
But now something has really clicked. The acid test for this team, in terms of its character, was how it was going to bounce back from defeat at home to Stoke City in a match we were the better side in.
The response has been emphatic. Some of the football in both the wins over Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa was sumptuous and the German’s patience with his methods and approach is now paying real dividends.
There is a lot to like. Three academy products playing vital roles in the current construction of the starting XI in Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell.
Strength in depth, as one goalscorer picks up an injury on international duty, another steps right into the breach meaning we have a consistent goalthreat no matter whether Teemu Pukki or Jordan Rhodes leads the line.
Unity in the dressing room – did you see the warmth in the embrace between sweary Timm Klose and Sky Sports’ Man of the Match (mine was Moritz Leitner) Jordan Rhodes last night?
Unity around the club, in the way the fans banded together to pay tribute to Bradley Raper, with Cantwell carrying a shirt around the pitch in his honour at full-time.
A sense of fun in the way the players approach the game, with tricks and flicks on display when appropriate but also a real conviction in the patient, possession-based approach. Every outfield player was involved in that second goal. Just under 50 touches: a one-two, backheel, single touches, a crossfield pass… It was a gorgeous goal, and the kind of effort which is a culmination in many ways of what Daniel Farke has been working towards.
The man in the parka has always believed that results would come eventually. He has now been proved right. The next challenge for the side is achieving consistency which will allow us to form part of the top six at the end of the season.
And the fact we’re even saying that shows how expectations have shifted. That’s also going to be a challenge now, as I think the Canary masses have recalibrated their thinking in terms of what they believe this young side can achieve.
People need to stay patient, I think, and treat this as another building year. But I said much the same thing for a long time when Paul Lambert was piloting a yellow and green rocket ship bound for the Premier League.
To expect the same of this young side would be unfair, but there is no doubt that once again Norwich City has a team and a manager we can be proud of.