We’ve all been to ‘those’ matches at Carrow Road; the classic tales of two halves.
Matches where the half-time whistle is greeted with a few moans and groans but the overwhelming sense is one of relief that 45 minutes of dross is over and you can grab a beer and a pie.
With half an eye on the TV screens replaying what precious little action there was, the talk in the bars tends to focus on why we bothered to turn up if those on the pitch can’t be bothered themselves.
But meanwhile, in the changing room, a transformation is occurring. A few well-placed words from the manager [or head coach] are sufficient to remind the players that they are indeed players and as if by magic, a different side steps out onto the pitch for the second half.
You can think of this article in the same way – a dour and depressing first half followed by a turnaround in the latter stages.
I provide this ‘heads up’ partly to encourage you not to clear off at half-time and partly to give you the opportunity to skip to the end.
But let’s kick-off.
At the time of writing, four new faces have been added to the playing squad and it’s not even July.
Cue much crowing from the Yellow Army with shots fired at Alex Neil for ‘foolishly’ suggesting that “you can’t sign players in June because they’re all on holiday” or words to that effect.
At the same time, nine players have passed through the exit door at Colney, easing the pressure on the wage bill and helping to trim down an aging and underperforming squad.
Proof – to some at least – that Webber and Farke have the Midas touch and that the previous regime was a complete and utter shambles.
What people have seemingly forgotten is that Alex Neil also suggested that he could have signed all manner of players during the summer transfer windows if it was solely about bringing bodies through the gates but instead he had specific targets in mind.
Targets that, in fairness, are unlikely to have included out of contract players from the German fourth tier or a 21-year old loan keeper without a first-team game to his name.
Simply put, this summer we’re fishing in a very different pond and trying to land yourself a ‘big fish’ for several million from a Premier League club is a vastly different proposition to bagging a couple of Bosman’s from the likes of Barnsley.
Perusing the names in the ‘departures lounge’, with the exception of Declan Rudd, so far the other players have all been out of contract.
So before the fans hail the new Messiah and urge him to attempt to walk across the Wensum, Stuart Webber needs to try and find buyers for some of our high-earning ‘fringe players’.
He might find that a tougher task and just as taxing as Alex Neil’s attempts to find someone willing to take the likes of Lafferty and Turner.
There goes the half-time whistle. Grab yourself a pie while I go for a dressing down from the manager/editor before we kick-off again. [Get on with it Cook. GG].
Forty-seven million pounds.
This summer that figure will get you Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire. It’s also (roughly) the amount we spent on Messrs Van Wolfswinkel, Naismith, Brady, Klose, Wildschut and Pritchard.
You can debate the value we’ve seen from that list of names but even allowing for inflation, you can get a lot of Grant Holts for that sort of money.
A hefty price tag brings with it increased expectation, but Norwich City’s track record of spending ‘big’ demonstrates that throwing money around hasn’t guaranteed success.
To build on the analogy that Gary used in his recent piece, the task of serving up a delicious dinner is perhaps a little harder when you’re forced to shop in Lidl rather than Waitrose. However buying the ingredients means absolutely nothing if you don’t follow a good recipe and do it properly.
What’s needed is a clear strategy and plans in place to deliver against it; a blue-print for how the team will play; things that both Webber and Farke have clearly set-out with genuine conviction and intent.
That needs to be supported with almost surgical precision when it comes to recruitment. No more square-pegs; no room for ‘deadwood’; no players looking for a pay-day or an easy life.
The players who arrive (or who are allowed to remain) at Colney will need the character, mentality, potential and work-rate to match their ability. They will need to fit in to the master-plan with clearly defined roles and most importantly they should want to be at Norwich.
Not to do us a favour, but because playing for a club that is aiming for Championship promotion is a challenge that they relish and represents a step-up and progression from their current club or position.
Players like Gunn, Watkins, Vrančić and Zimmermann.
Of course all of these signings represent a gamble but unlike certain deals from previous transfer windows, I genuinely understand the reasoning and thinking that led to the moves.
We have a plan and we’re executing it, with what appears to be a level of efficiency and effectiveness that hasn’t been evident in recent years.
There are guaranteed to be plenty more comings and goings before the season opener at Craven Cottage so at this stage it would be foolish to predict the starting line-up or formation.
The only safe bet is that the superstitious among us would rather hurdle a black cat under a ladder before travelling to Fulham with anything more than the current sense of cautious optimism.
If Farke and his newly assembled team can break the hoodoo and overturn both the odds and the history books, then maybe both he and Webber should try the Thames rather than the Wensum on that river crossing attempt.