I wrote in the week of the calmness that has descended upon the Canary Nation and how, in the circumstances, it’s so unusual. You could argue, unique.
I was referring of course to our relaxed attitude to the summer refresh of the squad, NOT the understandable disquiet over the membership scheme (Ben – when in a hole, stop digging son).
The “greatest fans in the world” are notable for many things but for their serenity and sense of perspective as we await new signings? Hmmm.
Yet the calmness and confidence exuded by Messrs Webber and Farke has rubbed off. They appear in control and content with how things are shaping up and, as a result, so are we.
But, not for the first time in penning an MFW piece, I inadvertently veered off-piste and ended up missing one of the key points I had intended to make.
So… in the aftermath of last Sunday’s game between the Lionesses and Cameroon, England manager Phil Neville was understandably fuming. He’d witnessed something that rarely occurs on a Sunday morning park pitch, let alone the international stage.
He nonetheless spoke eloquently of how embarrassing it was to be part of a World Cup fixture that descended into such farce and how it “wasn’t football”. All of which was obviously true.
But it was a throwaway line in mid-rant that struck a chord.
“Arsène Wenger told me teams mirror their managers”, was Neville’s not-so-subtle take on the behaviour and leadership qualities of Cameroon coach Alain Djeumfa.
To many that may be him stating the obvious – for this nerd it was the trigger for 1000 words.
It naturally conjured up images of a bloke in a parka, with long, swept-back hair, stubble, who speaks in soothing Germanic tones, and who has recently lifted a trophy.
While we’re not privy to what goes on inside the confines of the City changing room, it’s a fair bet there are no Sir Alex-style flying teacups and airborne pieces of pizza – post-promotion celebrations notwithstanding.
I imagine Daniel Farke’s demeanour to be more animated in the changing room than it is in the technical area (or in front of the camera) and that the messages are enforced emphatically, but that overall calmness exuded as he stands hands in parka-pockets is borne out in every single one of his players.
Okay, so occasionally Emi Buendia will leave his foot in when he’s got the hump and Marco Stiepermann will sometimes crumple in a heap as if shot by a sniper but, generally, the words of Arsene Wenger ring true in our Class of 2019.
There has been a calmness and composure about this group borne directly of Farke’s own.
It doesn’t begin and end with his chilled demeanour though. There’s also the inner steel and belief that his way is the right way, which has filtered from Colney and the technical area into the psyche of the players.
‘All on the same page’ is a horrible, painful phrase but you’d struggle to find a better footballing example than this current group, who clearly have total and complete faith in everything they are told, shown and demonstrated.
Those who are brought in and added to the group but whose stays here are short are the ones who either question the message or struggle to take it on board in the first place.
That this team successfully “mirrors” its head coach in terms of its temperament and belief can only be a good thing.
The flip side would be, for example, that bloke down the A140 who we once adored, whose most recent return here saw him pick a fight with our goalkeeping coach in the midst of some touchline handbags. Farke’s contribution to that fracas was to wink to a fan, hands firmly in pockets.
Ipswich tried every trick in the book to upset City’s rhythm that afternoon – 100 per cent reflective of their manager’s spikey, abrasive demeanour before, during and after that game – but City, captained expertly by Christoph Zimmermann, were able to channel their inner-Farke and rise above it.
Of course, the rising above it thing is much easier to do when you’re a far better side – but it was a trait that was displayed over 46 games. Calmness, while barely warranting a mention, was up there with technical proficiency and togetherness in the list of qualities that led us to the Championship title.
Ipswich are not alone in highlighting Arsene’s law and there were plenty of other Championship examples of spikiness and hostility in the technical area being replicated on the pitch – the red half of Sheffield being another good example.
Wenger himself was a perfect proponent of his own theory; a studious, patient, stoic touchline presence for a team that was patient, cultured and slick (and latterly unsuccessful). Jurgen Klopp, with whom we’ll be acquainted very soon, is another whose touchline demeanour is reflected perfectly in his team’s playing style – bold, high-tempo and in your face.
Looking further back, and using the example of Sir Alex again, it’s no surprise his teams were experts in the art of crowding and bombarding the referee when a decision went against them, replicating nicely Ferguson’s persistent ear-bending of the fourth official.
And then there were the two versions of Jose Mourinho. The one who, as in his first stint at Chelsea, would mould a winning team by getting the players on board and treating them as if they were his own sons, and who would smile occasionally, and then the Manchester Utd version who’d go out of way to create conflict with his players, the media and anyone who’d dare question his dubious decision-making.
Unsurprisingly, version one – the one who smiled and whose players hung on his every word – was infinitely more successful.
Closer to home, and going back to the 1970s, the two City managers of that decade conform perfectly to the Wenger/Neville rule: Ron Saunders’ no-nonsense, army major style being reflected in his successful but hard-on-the eye team, while John Bond’s teams displayed in their play their manager’s joie de vivre and flamboyance.
So let’s be grateful that Daniel Farke is a gentleman, that he oozes calm and is a student of the beautiful game in its purest form. Things could have turned out so much worse.
martin penney says
I’ve had a very pleasant summer morning outside with the dogs and an enjoyable read of a fine article but now I’ve seen the three piece-ending pics I suddenly feel remarkably queasy.
All I can say Gary, is that I think that your article emphasises the calmness shown by the players for 99.95% of the time (I still think that Buendia’s red was VERY harsh!!!) and at no time do they let their Head Coach or their teammates down, but rather fight to the end for each other,.
At the same time, they display the pride in wearing the yellow and green (or whatever the colours are chosen for the 2nd and 3rd strips for the season which kicks off in less than 6 weeks now – not that I’m counting!! 🙂 )
PS – Any idea when will we see the ‘white smoke’ emanating from NR1 announcing that the sponsors/design of the new strips have been released???
Gary Gowers says
Keep your eye out early this week, Ed 😉
Alex B says
An enjoyable read while watching England doing well again India, I think England got complacent with being No1 in for the World Cup especially against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and were just to dlow of the nark against the Aussies.
How would you say the following compared to their teams
For all the glory that is given to Walker I think he actually inherited a very good side built by Stringer and possibly if he had stayed as manager would have been just as successful
Onwards and upwards
Enjoyable read as usual.
“were able to channel their inner-Farke ” Now that is something worth finding in ourselves, but especially some of the moaners and groaners we still have dotted around. , they are decreasing like Tommy Robinson.
You said Saunder’s boys were hard on the eye, while that maybe true, but I am sure, I can say without too much contradiction that those that followed those boys round the country were not too bothered about the style of play. Nearly every other side played much like that. The term “kick your way out of the then Division Two . wasn’t made up for no reason . Any Alf Ramsey-ness was confined to the 1st Div
Just the simple fact that we had a team that was doing something after the doldrums of mid table nothingness, was more than enough. That season had it’s highs and lows, like leaving Blackpool in tatters at Carrow Road, then losing and returning to find some of the windows put in on our coach at Middlesbro.
I won’t forget that evening at Orient or the following game on the mud bath at Watford. , hard on the eye, but ruddy pleasing to be a part of if something, Just like last season.
Off to find my Inner Farke