Stuart Webber could be forgiven a quiet smile.
While the rest of us immersed ourselves in speculation about Rosler, Monk, O’Neill, Keller and assorted others, he quietly went about sealing the deal to secure his number one target.
He smiled sweetly as other names were put to him. I saw him, without a word, buy a drink for someone who asked him about Garry Monk.
The name Daniel Farke only surfaced as his Carrow Road unveiling was imminent.
Farke’s appointment will be seen – except perhaps by Ray Wilkins – as a clever piece of business, cleverly executed.
If it works.
With the depressing exceptions of Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis, any managerial/head coach appointment is a gamble. Daniel Farke’s nationality and experience arguably make the gamble greater.
Lest we get carried away by the positive vibes, both Stuart Webber and Steve Stone have reminded us that what matters is not words but delivery. As we speak, nothing has been achieved.
And yet, there’s a sense of hope among the City faithful – and there’s surely some justification for it.
For one thing, we finally seem to have a coherent plan and actions that back it up. Let’s remind ourselves what Stuart Webber told this site about the qualities he was looking for in a Head Coach:
“You need someone who has a strong and defined way of playing…something which wins games but in a way that we can build as our footballing philosophy”
“He needs to be open to developing players. It’s really important he has an open mind to new, young players”
“You want him to be dynamic, a risk-taker”
Daniel Farke seems to tick those boxes far more emphatically than any of the other rumoured candidates.
No club has a clearer style of play, ingrained through every level of the organisation, than Dortmund. It’s a positive, progressive and risk-taking style that gets fans excited.
The Dortmund approach is exemplified in Farke’s answer to the question about how Norwich can improve our defensive record next season. No focus on discretion or caution; the answer is that the opposition can’t create chances while we we have possession of the ball. The priority is imposing ourselves and dominating possession.
No-one can question Farke’s ability to galvanise and inspire young players. One of our sceptical commenters on this site last week asked “If we’d just signed a Premier League Under-23 coach, would there be any excitement?”
Depending a bit on the individual, the answer would probably be no. For two significant reasons. First, the German football structure is distinctly different from ours, and Dortmund’s under-23s don’t play in a series of youth competitions – they play with the big boys in the fourth tier of the full professional game.
The second reason is the widely-acknowledged superiority of German coaching to ours at the moment. I can’t think of a coach in England I’d be excited to see promoted to the Head Coach role at Norwich; I certainly couldn’t have pretended any enthusiasm for a Tim Sherwood.
David Wagner, on the other hand….
How did Farke’s young team do in the fourth tier, by the way? They lost only 6 of 56 games, scoring freely and conceding few. My fellow writer Connor Southwell described a few days ago the ‘colossal strides’ Farke has made at Dortmund; the local view is that he’s now too good for anything less than the role of a senior Head Coach.
Unlike almost all the rumoured candidates, of course, Farke is used to operating in the kind of structure we now have at Norwich. He seems to bring the same infectious drive that Stuart Webber does; the chemistry between them is palpable. And his English is excellent.
None of this guarantees success, but it clearly reduces the risk.
For the new Head Coach, Norwich must represent a mix of challenge and opportunity. We know the problems, starting with an ageing and under-motivated squad. But there’s also plenty of attraction: a supportive board (as Paul Lambert may now be appreciating more than he did), an exceptionally loyal fan base, a strong squad by Championship standards.
The scope for bringing in new players will depend on further departures from the current squad. But some scope is already there and will clearly be used.
Of special interest to Farke will be the group of young players on City’s books. Ben Godfrey, James Maddison, Louis Thompson and others will have a chance to show they can make an impact, at the same time (we’d hope) as the continued development of the Murphys.
So let’s not get carried away. But let’s not allow the sceptics to undermine our optimism either. We’ve been impressed by Stuart Webber’s words, and now we can be impressed by his actions.
Who knows, we may even sign a central defender or two….