It’s finally that time of the year when the world of football grinds to a halt and fans across the country gather their breath for another season.
We were well and truly spoilt this summer with a tremendous World Cup, I was getting all too familiar with watching three games a day during the group stages and it now seems wrong for football not to be on television daily.
Luckily the wait is a short one as City face up against Birmingham on August 4th, with six games scheduled for another intense month of football.
Clubs have all jetted off on their pre-season tours and the die-hard fans are already getting a glimpse of their shiny new players. Norwich have made good use of time in getting the majority of their business already done, so where does that leave us with the season only a few weeks away?
After the way the last two seasons have ended, petering out with little more than a whimper, I was really hoping that the transfer window would have excited me. Unfortunately the financial situation has left us with a window that feels slightly underwhelming. Yes, we’ve brought in an array of new faces. But Championship winners? No chance.
We’re entering a new cut-price chapter in City’s history. We managed to bring in a club legend in Grant Holt during the last one but this time just doesn’t feel the same. Modern recruitment in football looks to be done more on statistical modelling; what attributes does X player have that could fit in with Farke’s style? Do they come in within budget?
The most interesting signing has been our paid-for loan deal for Jordan Rhodes, ex-Ipswich and looking to reinvigorate his status as a £10 million player.
Norwich have been exceptionally blessed with great goalkeepers over the years. From Fraser Forster to John Ruddy and Angus Gunn; all three have both improved and thrived at Norwich so even if we don’t secure a deal for a keeper, I have every faith in Remi Matthews to have a solid season between the sticks.
The way we set up to defend will depend largely on how Farke wants to play. I’ll likely allude back to it throughout the year, but last season I felt it was wrong to play with two holding midfielders at home, especially when we were dominating possession but struggling to move the ball into attacking positions because there wasn’t enough support up front.
Southgate’s style for England could work perfectly with Norwich’s defensive players. I’ve not seen Passlack play but a five across the back would allow both Pinto and Lewis freedom to use their pace and attack down the wings. If Farke gives them license to push forward and load the box with crosses it would give Pukki, Oliveira or Rhodes more chances to score from open play.
Our reluctance to cross the ball last season gave the opposition much more comfort than they should be allowed because they simply compacted the middle of the park and crowded us out.
It seems inevitable that Russell Martin will be out on loan but for me he would fit into a three at the back better than Raggett. Klose, Hanley, and Martin would be my preferred choice as both Klose and Martin would be willing to push out from the back, with Hanley the man more likely to hold back (an ideal captain in my opinion).
Signing Moritz Leitner should be a good coup for Norwich. I would imagine that Leitner, Tettey, Trybull and Vrancic will be Farke’s preferred options, I will be interested to see Buendia, Mclean and Cantwell play and as for Jarvis, perhaps the what could have been for Norwich and offloaded in January on a loan with an option to buy if fit.
If Farke did opt for a back five, a midfield three with one striker behind the other would be nice to see. When we played last season with two holding midfielders there was never any rhythm in our attack, not enough support and it made it tough for our three attacking players to hold the ball up and bring others into play.
The combinations of Tettey, Leitner and Vrancic/Cantwell/Godfrey would hopefully give us more balance in the side, you could even see Vrancic or Stiepermann playing behind Rhodes or (possibly) Oliveira up front, so I do think there will be a lot of options for Farke.
The key element of the bigger squad should be variation. Last season was disappointing in the way it ended but it was really refreshing at times to see Norwich play a completely different style than we’re used to watching. The problem I felt was that it became too predictable and we never changed tactics even if we were on the back foot.
I stand by my earlier statement that we have no chance of winning the league with our squad. I would also predict that the top six will be also very difficult to achieve but that, for me, is more a by-product of financial resource than having Farke in charge. Going into this season I’m backing him 100 per cent and really hope he succeeds.
Pukki, Oliveira, Rhodes and Srbeny. I don’t expect Morris to feature heavily and I wouldn’t expect to see Srbeny get too many chances but my only concern with a front three of Rhodes, Oliveira and Pukki is the lack of variation in playing style.
Onel Hernandez has the attributes to contribute to the team in the same way past players like Simeon Jackson and Robbie Earnshaw did; a pacy player with a low centre of gravity that can play off a big striker. Whether Farke would use that tactic I’m not so sure, my worry would be that after 70 minutes at 0-0 he’ll instead opt for a like-for-like substitution that won’t go down well with the Carrow Road crowd.
Jordan Rhodes is coming to Norwich with a reputation as a proven Championship striker. Averaging just under a goal every two games, he ticks the box for what we need but the £10m signing to Sheffield Wednesday didn’t cement him as a player on the verge of the Premier League. Eight league goals in the past two seasons isn’t great but a hungry player looking to reinvigorate his career could be exactly what we need.
8th. I genuinely think that given more funds Farke could build a Championship winning side in three seasons. The problem is that Norwich are now back at square one whereas teams like Wolves – and there will be other examples of them – have the finances to buy their way into the Premier League.
West Brom, Stoke, Aston Villa, Derby and Middlesbrough all immediately look stronger and there is still time for other teams to bolster their squad before the end of the transfer window.
This season will be a big one for City because if we are sitting in the mid-lower half of the table come April time, the banners will be out calling for outside investment and I think Delia and co will be in a much tougher position to consider bringing someone in.
The big red flag warnings are Leeds, Ipswich and Nottingham Forest. They are three big, stagnant clubs that teams like Norwich, Derby and Aston Villa don’t want to become. Fulham were in danger of it a few years ago but look where investment has taken them. QPR are living proof it’s not always the answer but the days are numbered where you can resist taking the gamble…