I won’t spend too much time talking in depth about Daniel Farke because I’m not going to pretend I know very much about him at this point.
However from what I gather he is a progressive coach who has done a good job with Dortmund’s under 23 team and knows how to build a solid defence (25 goals conceded in 34 games this season) so that’s a pretty good start.
Oh, and he also has a reputation for getting the best out of young players. Not exactly comprehensive, I appreciate, but I’m sure we’ll all find out more about the man and his approach soon enough.
Now that we finally know who City’s first ever Head Coach is we can start to focus on how he and Stuart Webber can move the club forward.
Clearly there are a number of key decisions to make and the first and most important of these is whether to gamble everything on promotion this season before the parachute payments run out.
The problem with that, of course, is that there is a very real danger that failure to achieve it could either leave the club with the albatross of an unsustainable wage will around its neck – a situation that we’ve seen often enough elsewhere – or force a fire sale and reliance on youth.
It could be argued that one of the things that contributed to City’s problems this season was the decision to throw a significant amount of money at the squad last January in a desperate attempt to maintain City’s Premier League status.
Timm Klose and Steven Naismith both required significant outlay in transfer fees and wages but didn’t have the required effect and have struggled to differing extents in the Championship.
However, by far the most glaring error in that window to me was the decision to sign Matt Jarvis – who was already on a season long loan – on a permanent basis, since when he has only troubled the club’s medical staff rather than opposing fullbacks, and rather than being able to ship him back to West Ham last May (presumably carefully swathed in bubble wrap to prevent further damage) we now have him eating into the Carrow Road wage budget.
The bottom line is that in recent years the success of City’s player recruitment has tended to be in inverse proportion to the money available.
The likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer hardly stack up against Grant Holt and Russell Martin in terms of contribution to the club yet they commanded somewhere in the region of twenty times their combined transfer fees.
Hopefully Webber and Farke’s approach will be to go hard for promotion next season but without mortgaging the future of the club on a single roll of the dice. After all, four of the top six in the Championship this year didn’t benefit from parachute payments so there is life beyond them.
The second big question is what sort of playing style will City adopt next season? There were plenty of moans about the inflexibility of the 4-2-3-1 system favoured by Alex Neil, but in my view there are no bad systems, just bad implementation.
Alan Irvine broadly used the same set up but seemed to give his players more freedom to switch positions within the overall framework with increasingly impressive results as the season went on.
Looking at this season’s top six there appears to be no clear prototype. Predictably enough the two automatically promoted sides scored considerably more goals than they conceded, but Huddersfield were the only side above 12th placed Cardiff to post a negative goal difference, despite their much-vaunted attacking flair.
And four of the play-off sides favoured playing off a traditional target man whereas Huddersfield and Reading preferred quick and mobile strikers.
In fact, the only thing that all six seem to have in common is that they pressed high and retained possession well, although in practice the two things are inextricably linked because a side that dominates possession is always going push higher up the pitch leaving less area to close down when the opposition have the ball.
If we look back at City’s best performances this season they have always been based on those two factors, whereas the worst defeats have been games in which possession was surrendered too easily and energy levels dropped, resulting in an inability to get numbers forward quickly enough.
Ultimately it isn’t exactly rocket science but consistency of effort and quality will be key factors regardless of what system Farke decides to use, and if he can find a way of making the side considerably more parsimonious at the back whilst keeping the Canaries’ trademark attacking flair he will soon have the Yellow Army on his side.
Thanks to our friends at Archant for permitting us the use of Robin’s services over the summer months on a short-term loan deal