In the aftermath of that final day drubbing at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday, this club was rife with frustration and panic.
With its prize asset on crutches, social media went vocal on its fears around whether the new regime could bear fruit and a team who looked sluggish and had once again been beaten heavily away from home, just as they had been at Millwall and QPR.
If ever there was a moment for the club to decide that their new strategic direction was proving inadequate, it was then. The football had a painting-by-numbers style, the punters were beginning to vocalise their frustration, and the players were seemingly despondent with the working methods being implemented by Daniel Farke.
There was no empirical evidence to suggest City could become playoff contenders in year two of the project, let alone potential champions.
Stuart Webber referenced it in his post-match comments on Saturday evening – not one person had predicted Norwich’s surge. Yet, against a backdrop of social media hysteria, those inside the club opted to ignore the noise and continue to believe in their working methods, deciding that the path they were taking was one that could take them back into the light of the Promised Land.
Forget the riches, this was a battle against the adversity, one that required common sense to prevail over egos and ambition.
Webber picked up the reins in a period of despair within NR1.
A hefty wage bill, players who felt the club owed them a living and an academy that operated as an almost separate entity to the first team. The narrative has become mainstream and the work Webber has done is nothing short of miraculous.
He has implemented a blueprint that goes against all the traditional methods that are commonly regarded as vital in navigating the Championship – the one where success only arrives through experienced operators and spending vast sums of cash. But the club has put its head down and worked tirelessly to prove people wrong
After all, Daniel Farke isn’t one for rules.
Other coaches adhere to the conventions of football, donning a suit and politely applauding their supporters. Farke isn’t a conformist. He’s a profound thinker, a football philosopher who is ole’ing his way into the big time with a plan that is progressive and has been constructed without the luxury of deep pockets.
His mannerisms haven’t altered. Despite having to deal with player after player being sold to ensure the long-term financial. Jonny Howson, Alex Pritchard, James Maddison, Josh and Jacob Murphy are all names that departed since Farke’s taken the helm at the club.
But instead of lamenting the situation and pleading for funds and support, he has respected the club and sought to continue his work within a climate with severe constraints.
During his tenure, City have been heavily beaten and, in the case of last Christmas, nearly dragged into a relegation battle. Most managers would opt for experience and pragmatism, but then, most head coaches are not Daniel Farke.
Jamal Lewis was rewarded with his debut in the intense storm of Birmingham away after a defeat to Brentford, which left many baying for the blood of those occupying the corridors of power. Max Aarons was given his league debut in the heat of the derby at Portman Road, Farke electing to choose him over the Champions League, Premier League and international experience of Ivo Pinto.
When discussing Farke going forward he will be depicted as a footballing philosopher, but there was a period early in his tenure when pragmatism took over and any degree of philosophy became secondary. A 2-1 away win at Reading was the epitome of this, where resolve became the order of the day.
It was the sign of an astute coach who can develop young talent but equally, one who can assert his ideas coherently into a group of unfancied players. If Farke’s stock wasn’t rising previously, it’s soaring now.
He arrived on these shores as an unknown quantity but was someone who excited supporters because of his footballing education and association with Borussia Dortmund. Weeks rolled into months and the progress, on the pitch at least, was barely evident.
Tellingly, on the walls inside Colney is the quote ‘Ignore the noise’.
Farke kept belief in his practices when many rejected them, when they called his football tedious, he was working to advance his work into tangible results. At Portman Road, those on the terraces were vocal in their disapproval, even then, when the mood was threatening to become toxic, he was stubborn and believed in his work.
The result is a Norwich City side who play some of the best football this club has ever witnessed.
Intellectual, precise football that has been manufactured with players coached in a system that allows for their strengths to be maximised. The recruitment targets players who fit into Farke’s system, rather than a system being adapted for those already in the building.
German managers will forever be compared to Jurgen Klopp and his self-proclaimed rock and roll football but Farke, by comparison, despite his Oasis band member attire and demeanour, is one of the football philosophers who opts for deep thinking and book reading to the full pressing system deployed by Klopp.
The comparison, even to David Wagner’s Huddersfield, is far fetched. Farke’s football incorporates the pressing that has come associated with Germanic coaches, but also that is done in a more considered way.
The 4-2-3-1 system provides the equilibrium necessary for Farke’s philosophy to flourish, be it the overlapping full backs or how City’s attacking midfielders occupy positions centrally to allow for overloads in the offensive stages.
Fundamentally, every element has been devised and coached into a way that it becomes instinctive for those players who are selected to play it.
While Marcelo Bielsa will be the one marvelled by those in the game for his tactics, it’s worth noting that Farke has won more points, more wins and sits on top of the table and is guaranteed Premier League football next season. Bielsa isn’t.
Farke’s impact has been unprecedented, just as spectacular as the Argentinian’s, and is based on his work on the training pitches of Colney.
When Stuart Webber claimed he had recruited the best coach in the division on BBC Radio Norfolk, some sniggered, most raised their eyebrows, but they aren’t laughing anymore.
Come Sunday, Farke could be a champion – the man who refused to conform.