Forget promotion and all hope of the Premier League. The aspirational target of the playoffs is dwindling away and even the top ten seems a long shot at present.
Those who continually depart with their hard-earned cash to travel across their homeland are watching Norwich capitulate. Home showings haven’t been pleasant viewing either, with a large proportion of City’s fan base pondering as to the scale of garbage they are to be freshly served during that particular sitting.
Winless in seven and with Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United on the horizon, without changes that figure will rise to nine.
Invariably, everything has changed but the angst and frustration continue.
These pages have been filled since August, by myself included, with a plethora of calls for patience and context; all viewpoints I echo wholeheartedly.
I’m not for one moment advocating that Norwich remove everyone and start again, but this is a terrifying sustained run of form and those around the club should be deeply concerned.
It takes only common sense to see that this will take time. Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber continuously work within the constraints of a financial strait jacket – the latter deserves immense credit for the work he has done to diminish the size of an inflated wage structure – but whilst they discuss all hope of the future, there is no short-term outlook on things at present.
This is a complete mess of a side who appear rudderless and simply inept to carry out the philosophy our new head coach.
They clichés come out of course … ‘they lack desire’ … ‘they lack willpower’… but they are not. But they are severely lacking cohesion, guidance and a tactical revamp. Be it big or small.
Norwich will be better off for this long-term planning and the building of a framework for the future is sensible and pleasing, but what about now? Nobody connected with the club is seemingly recognising this team is fragmented and regressing while freefalling towards the bottom three.
We have a left-back with no positional understanding or defensive intelligence due to the fact he isn’t a defender. We have inverted wingers who are restricting the position of James Maddison. We have midfielders who are, by design, told to pass teams into submission but lack the technical quality to do so. And we have a fractured midfield, an ineffective striker and no evident links between the thirds.
Perhaps what is most worrying is this is only a few of the problems.
We are not ruthless or decisive enough with the ball, and not solid or resolute without it.
Where is the guile? Where is the ugly resolve this side displayed in games such as Middleborough, Reading and Ipswich?
That second half against Cardiff emulated the abysmal showing at Millwall. Norwich led due to Cardiff not being at the races, but a simple injection of motivation and two offensive substitutions and Norwich were dumbfounded.
All of talk of philosophy was once again blown away but the simplicity of organisation and direct runners. Simplicity vs over-complication.
These reoccurring deficiencies are bound to make Norwich fans agonise. The viewing has been monotonous and the feelings of apathy and being underwhelmed have returned.
Despite the tsunami of discontent amongst supporters pointed towards the boardroom and a lack of change surrounding turgid on pitch performances, the head coach is more interested in bemoaning a refereeing decision, which plastered over Norwich’s inability to defend the initial set piece. Sol Bamba’s header went into the back of the net. Farke’s frustrations are both irrelevant and infuriating.
More infuriating though is the German’s statement that he cannot ‘fault his players’. How about Oliveira’s insistence to shoot from laughable angles, or the lack of steel in your midfield and the lack of defensive shield, Daniel?
Norwich resemble a blind, flailing boxer, plenty of promise, but little punch.
I am told I am a blind optimist, but this Norwich side is critically underperforming. They weren’t ever certs for promotion, but neither should they be residing in the lower reaches of this division.
Deadlines can be set and case studies can be used to compare, but the cutting of the cloth and the restriction in which Farke operates are tough.
He had shown initial signs of pragmatism, leadership and astute management both tactically and in the man management of his squad during a hard-working international break, but post-Ipswich these qualities have been less evident.
He hasn’t addressed an unbalanced midfield, a lack of creativity and a drought of goals. And by pinning all hopes on 21-year old Maddison you aren’t allowing him to play freely, but merely weighing him down and pressurising him. He needs a rest.
Wes Hoolahan needs to operate as a number ten or not be in the side at all. He cannot, and as all of Farke’s precursors have learnt, operate efficiently as a wide option. He isn’t someone who is going to contribute to a successful defensive shape and you can’t ask him to be a ball winner in your half and a creator in the other.
The idea of Wes out wide is great in principle but has contributed in him being lacklustre this season.
Farke arrived in NR1 with the reputation of an operator who trusts and develops young players and is progressive. Yet he must return to the pragmatist we witnessed post Millwall or Norwich will be frenetically glancing over both shoulders.
Prove you can manage Farke.
I’m not advocating his removal or resignation, but he must display his ability to evolve and adapt in order to stop this destructive and demoralising run.