Open-top bus parades, mass gatherings in the centre of Norwich and popping champagne corks; the last few months have been memorable ones for those associated with Norwich City Football Club.
But the party is over, and the hangovers have been nursed.
Daniel Farke has created himself a pathway to the Norwich City Hall of Fame, with the title win that will be to the eternal gratitude of the Canary Nation. Ultimately, his philosophy proved too much for the Championship; breaking conventions as he masterminded a campaign that resulted in the trophy being lifted at Villa Park.
Hindsight is wonderful, but rewind two years and it was a very different mix of emotions that engulfed NR1.
The apathy that immersed the club at the end of the Alex Neil era and the antipathy that surrounded the entire episode is what made the recent success taste even sweeter.
By bringing in two key figures and then breaking convention, the seemingly impossible was achieved. But now we move forward.
Last season revolved around City asserting their philosophy onto opposing teams; this coming season will be more about adaptation and pragmatism yet still based on those same fundamental principles.
The challenge lies in those same players being permitted the same freedom they have become used to but in a shape that will 0ften be more defensively structured.
Last season, the defensive side of City’s game, particularly at home, lacked the steel that a title-winning team might traditionally be associated with. The sometimes porous nature of that rearguard commanded by Tim Krul was one concerning aspect of an otherwise highly impressive season.
But Farke’s understated public persona shouldn’t be mistaken for a coach without that streak needed to bring people back into line. Ask any of his current crop or those who have departed; the German sets high standards without being wedded to a single idea of how football should be played.
Farke’s emulated the dodging skills of Tyson Fury when he was asked about his thoughts of facing Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, but there will be no awe factor from a man who was plucked from relative obscurity and who now finds himself on the biggest stage. For some, his measured demeanour will be regarded as weak and soft, but quiet people are often the most prominent thinkers.
The big question of course is, can Farke’s approach work against the elite? Can he be as cavalier as last season? There have been some clues.
Appearances against Premier League opponents in cup competitions – Arsenal, Chelsea, Bournemouth and Cardiff – showed that Farke’s stylistic game is adaptable. In fact, the beauty of his coaching is its changeability. Often the praise comes from the passing style, and those fundamentals won’t change, but off-the-ball positioning and counter-attacking phases of play will.
City will approach this Premier League campaign with a visible philosophy and numerous on-field assets; elements that were absent in Premier League campaigns gone by, notably because of Chris Hughton’s inherent over-cautiousness and Alex Neil’s inexperience. Both cost the club its Premier League status.
This time things are different. Being, theoretically, in possession of the long-term futures of Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and now, Ben Godfrey, gives the club a financial cushion should it drop out of the Premier League.
When the super computer’s algorithm churned out an opening day fixture at the home of the European Champions, it provoked a response from the Canary Nation that was something of a rarity.
Initially, of course, the response was a fear, but then we remembered how fearless this current crop of players (and management) are and optimism and excitement took hold.
Farke’s men will attack this fixture in the only way they know how – with fearlessness and enthusiasm, refusing to align to a specific tag or conform to the conventions expected by Premier League ‘experts’.
‘Bring it on’ will be the message that flows through the players at the revamped Colney.
At Anfield, nobody in yellow and green will be admiring their surroundings but, instead, they will be looking to embrace the opportunity. This is a group who are used to being written off and dismissed. Ignoring the external voices and the increase in volume, compared to the Championship, will be seismic regardless of how the campaign unfolds.
Looking back, it’s odd to think all of this effectively began in the aftermath of that thumping defeat at The New Den, but the upshot was Farke opted to resurrect Alex Tettey’s Norwich career and purchase Grant Hanley, both providing stability to the defensive side of City’s game. They even went ten games unbeaten in that season, adopting a completely contrasting style to the current one.
In contrast to said ten-game run, possession has been the significant element of Farke’s philosophy, but in the Premier League that will likely be surrendered, and it will all be about how City use the ball when they have it as opposed to how they control proceedings.
The focus may shift to a more counter-attacking game; the signing of Josip Drmic and the qualities he brings lends itself to that type of game. Fundamentally, it will still require togetherness and footballing intelligence, particularly in the way they decide to press and how that is triggered.
Pragmatism will become the order of the day.
In isolation, City’s conquests against Premier League opponents have seen them acquit themselves well – and that offers hope.
The way Farke’s has coached Norwich has been in line with his work at both SV Lippstadt 08 and Borussia Dortmund II. Now we will find out how adaptable he can be within the framework of his ideology.