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…
Cyprus canary says
You make some good points Matthew but my assessment of the season will include the development of young players IN the squad rather than out on loan. Cantwell, Thompson, Godfrey etc to be given a chance to shine ahead of the German second string brigade. I am fairly optimistic about the season ahead but I wish I had mor faith in Farke’s ability to deliver.
Hopefully I am wrong but time will tell and we will still be supporting whoever is on the park.
What we need is an invester,someone to put in a few million a year so the club don’t have to sell their best players each season’s end.Staying as we are sadly will not see us gaining promotion anytime soon,that’s the way football is at the moment and I definately think that Farke is not the right coach to even get us a sniff of the play offs.As you have said formations or tactics never seem to change during a game,I just don’t think DF is clever enough but hope I’m proved wrong,we shall see.
Laurence G says
Martin ahead of Zimmerman at the back? Interesting call! Also curious about Villa looking stronger given they have confessed to having financial problems and a need to sell to stay afloat – I would expect that side to be a few faces fewer come first day of the season and far less of a threat than last year. And incidentally on your final comment about a financial gamble, they are the perfect example of what can happen if it goes wrong. I would prefer us to do what we are doing and hope to unearth a few gems (like Grant Holt) than to throw all our money in the hope we strike lucky.
Agree with the final position though.
I would not over look Thompson, reading between the lines of reprts so far, I would hazard a dodgey guess that Thompson is ahead of Godfrey and Cantwell in Farke’s thinking, especially with Tettey out for the forseeable furture.
It will be a dilemma for Farke, of what to do with the Likes of Godfrey and Cantwell, they need pitch time now perhaps more than ever, will he give them that or does a loan look favourite ? Sitting on the bench or not playing will seriously halt their growth. Plus I hope he is mindful that Godfrey generated interest from a few clubs last season, I would not want to see him stunted
pop rivett says
Matthew you mentioned that prediction word,it is that time of year. so tongue in cheek.
Pops 10 Predictions 18/19 season
1/ The Mighty Canaries finish 2nd 26 wins 12 draws 8 games lost (very bad refs) 90 points
2/ Grant Hanley appointed captain
3/ Big season for Farkes Fledglings, Matthews, Morris, Cantwell, Lewis, Godfrey, & Thompson
4/ Teety only gets 3 yellow cards all season
5/ Jarvis plays a full season without injury
6/ Rhodes, Pukki, Srbeny & Nelson get 72 goals between them.
7/ Mclean wins the Barry Butler Trophy
8/ Old Farm derby result over both legs Norwich 5 Ipswich 1= 6 points for the canaries
9/ Ipswich appoint Alex Neil at Christmas just to make sure they are relegated
10/ BBC give me my own TV show contract,for next season since I got 9 out of ten correct
Alex B says
With Farke already saying Martin is going out on loan that closes the door for him in the middle of defence.
It will be a tough season but I am optimistic that we will be in the top 6 and secure a playoff place
Grumpy Canary says
It’s a little disappointing to read an article that, on the face of it, had been written by someone who has clearly avoided all forms of media output from the club and local columnists and would appear to have spent less time in Norwich than Marcel Franke.
Your reference to using Martin, for example – completely ridiculous – he’s been told by the club (and stated himself) that he’s not in the managers plans and will be leaving in one form or another in the near future.
Pinto – clearly one for the chop having not featured during pre-season and being frozen out for large chunks of last season in favour of Harrison Read (not to mention the signing of Passlack who is clearly hear as first choice).
Oliveira – say no more – another player leaving shortly with the signing of 2 more strikers!
Morris – “not featuring heavily”? He’s done his ACL – he’s not going to feature at all!!!
Jarvis – Loan to buy in January? His contract is up next summer – if he goes out on loan at that point, that’s his lot as he’s out of the building come the end of his contract.
I’m sorry to pick holes but seriously, if you’re going to write an article, please do so having done your research before committing thoughts to ink as it looks to me like something written by a complete outsider with little or no knowledge of the subject that they are covering, which is not what I would expect from an NCFC biased site such as this.
Rant over – OTBC!! 🙂
Matthew H says
Hi Grumpy Canary,
Thanks for taking a read! RM will almost definitely not be featuring my point may not have been clear enough, I feel after watching him as a season ticket holder since he joined the club that he would fit into that style better.
All happy hypothetical stuff to fill the pre-season void, otbc
Keith B says
Here we go, another “theoretical” article telling us you can only ever succeed with significant investment.
Finances are important. But people are what really bring success.
My nearest League Club is Macclesfield Town. This time last year they were my nearest National League club, with one of the smallest playing budgets. Their manager, John Askey, worked wonders and has moved on… to Shrewsbury.
Despite an exceptionally good start Shrewsbury, another club with relatively limited means within their league, remained a 25/1 shot at the end of August. I took it each way. Paul Hurst has also moved on (hence the need to recruit Askey), and we all know where to. I for one will not be writing off Ipswich’s chances of at least making significant progress in the coming season.
As for us, I like our new structure which is much more robust than “give the manager a budget and let him spend it all unchecked”. You can never get recruitment 100% right, but at least it makes it unlikely we will pay silly prices for players as we did for the Wolf and Naismith.
But as a couple of people said above the real issue is whether Farke can get the best out of his team.
He can certainly improve players, that much he has proved. I didn’t see many games last year but the impression I got was that the biggest problem was lack of movement in front of Maddison and co. If that’s what Rhodes and Pukki will bring to the party – maybe Srebny too, he’s still on a big learning curve – then there’s a chance of a playoff place.
Personally I think the funds Farke’s been given and the players he and Webber have recruited, mixed with a couple of bright young things, ought to be enough to give us good go at it.
I agree that the youth will be given a chance. Part of the big picture seems to develop and sell players whilst seeking play-off places. I think they have got the squad right, my only worry is if Grant Hanley is out for an extended period then we have real issues with a lack of leadership at the back. There are lots of derensively minded midfielders to choose from. The best all-rounder is Trybull, I hope that he stays injury free. Just ahead of him, Leitner (my choice for captain too). Let him boss the game, he is always forward looking and able to pass the ball with pace and accuracy. If we are playing with a back 3 and wingbacks, then a front 3 out of Hernandez, Maclean, Buendia, Rhodes, Pukki will bring goals a plenty. If we need to park a bus then there are a wealth of options, if we play 2 up front then we are blessed with 3 Strikers and a Hernandez (Earnshawesque as mentioned above). Loads of options, good talent and character throughout but not sure if they are robust enough for the Championship, but we shall see. OTBC
Godtrey is a holding mid or centre back. Not sure how you think the 5 you mention in midfield would line up, You contradict yourself by not wanting two holding then mention Godfrey and Tettey. We are massively overloaded. He has brought in natural wide players also which won’t play unless we play 4 at back. I also think Mclean will start. I do agree home we need to change. Maybe even 442 natural width. The 5 at back and 2 holding worked perfectly away last season, I would Around 30 points right now this season like we got last season. Just got to get balance right at home. 30 away 45 home won’t be far off, personely we will do well to finish in top half. We have no right to finish any higher really, oh yeah and I wouldn’t mind being forest right now, they will be up there. Spending like big new owners.
Trevor Hill says
I can’t see Nellie Ollie being in the yellow and green come August 4th. As for Matt Jarvis, nobody at Carrow road has given us fans an update of his injury for months! Also, I was wondering if players and indeed the club, are insured in case of long term injury? Surely they must be? Can anyone enlighten me please?
Dan Rear says
Very strange article, Matthew! You mention Martin & Oliveira, and not Zimmermann. And as above, Villa are apparently completely broke.
How about this team?3 5 2.
Alex B says
Leicester have agreed a £10m deal to sign Ward from Liverpool, so all those who advocated him as a loan to replace Remi are out of luck – so it looks like he will get a prolonged run of games unless we can sign Krul on a free, but his wages might be out of our reach.
At home 442: Mathews Klose Hanley Passlack Lewis Trybull Leitner (Cpt) Maclean Hernandez/Buendia Rhodes Pukki
Away 352: Matthews Zimmermann Hanley Klose Trybull Tettey Passlack Lewis Maclean Leitner (playing as a 10) Rhodes
Square pegs round wholes
In your 4;42 who’s playing left wing, presuming McLean ,pointless if you want width. He won’t LM in a four. Marshall will play on right, and Hernandez or Buendia will just brhind as 10.. seems strange. We seem to have wide right none left. Yes steiperman but hardly winger.
Sorry too many ??.
I meant 3 wide right.
Also meant to read, “Mclean won’t play wide in a 4. Well certainly shouldn’t.
4 1 4 1.
Presume you swap Marshall and Passlack ! Passlack RB Marshall right mid
Trevor Hill says
This Passlack chap must be good? He’s in everybodies team! Hope he’s not another Franke.