As we prepare to launch into a new season there are a couple of topics I considered writing about for MFW. I thought I’d try and condense them into two mini-rambles instead.
Topic One – Is this the season nobody sees live?
The current plans are that the club will look to try and get a percentage of socially-distanced fans in to Carrow Road where they can, while the government are looking to get stadiums opened in October if possible.
Obviously this is all a moveable feast, and balanced against the backdrop of children returning to school.
Anybody who has had small children will confirm two things:
1) They pass on germs more efficiently than any device the maddest scientist could dream up, and never more so than in the first few weeks back at school after summer.
2) If you’ve done the awkward Parents Evening sitting on the way-too-tiny chairs, you’ll realise how claustrophobically-small those classrooms feel when you have just two or three adults in them, let alone 30 children, and that any hopes of social-distancing are a nonsense, no matter how well the schools and teachers try to prepare.
Add in to this a return to colder, more bug-friendly weather, and you have a perfect storm for a potential second-wave of COVID in the coming weeks and months. The latest scientific expectations are that the wave will be longer but hopefully less severe than the first, although we’ve seen this virus defy expectations before.
What this likely means for football fans is that we won’t be going back to packed stadiums any time soon.
Whatever your political leaning, I think we all understand and agree that keeping children in school and adults in work has to be the priority we aim for, and as such if the trade-off as a society is that public events such as concerts, festivals and even, damn-it-all football matches cannot be attended, that’s something we know we have to take on the chin.
So, if and when the R-number increases we know which activities will be curtailed first.
The EFL have now taken the pioneering step of making a decision that everyone agrees with, (mark that one in your diaries), and provided fans with the opportunity to watch their team’s games via iFollow. Regardless of how you feel about pricing, comparison to season-tickets etc, it does give fans what they crave: access.
They’ve also gone one better and given it a suitable and well-thought-out rationale, stating that it will be available until stadiums are at least 50% full.
I think only the most mask-dodging, COVID-hoax-spreading zealot thinks that these levels of attendance will come any time soon.
How long we will be forced to rely on iFollow for is anyone’s guess, but there’s definitely the potential for it to be a part of our lives into the new year and maybe beyond.
Could this be the season we watch solely from the sofa?
Topic Two – Preparation and Luck
As I’m writing this, the mass of humanity that is Ben Gibson is hoving into view, ready to become the last piece in the transfer puzzle of what has, so far, been an incredible summer of acquisitions by Stuart Webber.
The squad that looked threadbare and bereft of options last season has been infused with a plethora of new faces and, just as importantly, new styles. Only the most hardened-pessimist could fail to be impressed with how we’ve filled the squad out.
In this oddest of off-seasons, we still have several weeks of anxiety remaining. We were all expecting a stampede to the door to grab our prized young potents, and barring Liverpool tossing a shilling out of the window for Jamal Lewis and expecting us to rush off like a subservient urchin should, and fetch them a goose on Christmas Day, there has been nothing.
Traditionally the bigger clubs tend to leave their business until late in the window. That leaves us biting our finger nails awaiting our fate until Jim White’s jamboree of overblown bullsh#t finally “slams shut”™.
Murmurs from Colney suggest that Webber and Farke are happy with our squad the way it is and that if any players are sold they will be replaced. As such, I don’t think we can be any better prepared for this season. We have three viable options in every position, and an Under 23 squad bursting with the potential to add to the subs bench if required.
Unlike last season Farke can have no complaints that he does not have enough weapons in his arsenal.
However well you prepare, luck plays a massive part. We are as well-prepared to survive an injury crisis as it’s possible to be, but if the injuries strike forensically, as they did at the heart of the defence last season, they can still wreck your season.
With an influx of new players, they will need a settling-in period to adjust. The likes of Sorenson, Quintilla, Sinani and Placheta are in an entirely new country and culture. Remember how long it took Vrancic to adapt? We can’t expect them all to hit the ground-running and make a difference.
While we are celebrating the lack of departures thus far, and undeniably it helps to maintain the framework of the side and makes it easier for the new lads to fit in to our pattern of play, we are also running the risk of relying too heavily upon a group that is coming off ten defeats in a row.
Will it result in the continuation of the PL hangover?
So many questions. You just never know what your Championship experience will provide. And that’s the beauty of it.
Webber has given us an incredible shot at this league. There are things that could derail us but I’m not nervous about what I know. I’m nervous about what’s unforeseeable at this juncture. And for a long-term Norwich fan, that’s as close to outright optimism as it’s sensible to be.
“Webber has given us an incredible shot at this league. “
That remains to be seen.
He certainly failed 100% in that regard last season.
Is he the messiah everyone was thinking in our promotion season?
Time will tell, but if he and DF fails this season, then football being the way it is these days both will be gone.
Colin B says
Given that the number of Covid cases are starting to rise a lot in the past couple of days then we may be at the start of a second wave. To contain that stark choices will have to be made. Children attending schools and people being able to work must come first. Leisure pursuits such as attending football matches support jobs but they have to be a lower priority as they pose such a risk of spreading Covid. So like you I cannot see full stadiums any time before next Spring. The iFollow deal for season ticket holders seems a reasonable compromise. I am a member so I am not getting anything really. I feel like I have loaned the club my money.
I totally agree with you that we have a squad capable of doing well this season. I also agree about Lady Luck. We had our fair share in our Championship winning season. Just look at the number of points won from goals in the last five minutes of games, many in added on time. Also when we had an injury or suspension the replacement came in and hit the ground running straightaway. Also Leeds blew up, which helped us win the League. Last season we had no luck so hopefully it does even out over time.
Don Harold says
Topic One-I agree that there is, without a vaccine, no chance of full stadiums any time soon. I also agree with your comments regarding iFollow.
I do have questions regarding the 50% level of attendance being required before iFollow is removed.-how does this affect little 1p5wich? As they have struggled to get to the 50% level of attendance since 2 or 3 prime ministers ago, do they lose iFollow when the stadiums are 25% full?
Topic Two- The squad is looking strong as long as the new players adapt quickly. The last squad that DF and SW built took a season to gel before being brilliant; I don’t think they have such luxury available this time.
Ha, … I think that the missing word is *allowed* to be half full …!
Good read Sir. Yea I agree. we have a better all-round looking squad, we have to adapt to the league, we will be not seen as fodder, but a big scalp, with everyone going all out to teach us a lesson.
That will include the odd guy trying to put one of our guys in the front row, behind the hoardings. Whether we have enough muscle not to be brushed aside, I suppose remains to be seen. There looks to be a bit more about us with Hugill & Gibson in particular. The thought of Dowell and Skipp operating together does float my boat a little. The main thing for me, is we have options all over .
The way the covid wave is spreading, Norfolk on high-risk watch, something I do not think we were last time, I would not be too confident in warming a seat at the Road just yet.
Herr Cutz says
Andy, you’re right Webbo has redress his mistakes of last season with the influx of new players and the ball is now firmly in Danny’s court. Lots of ifs, buts and maybes to come with more players leaving, injuries, poor refereeing and bad luck but Danny’s backside ( couldn’t help that) will be soundly kicked if City fail to shine this season. Most fans understand the revolution that has taken place at Carrow Road and have tolerated Danny’s shortcomings but the disappointment of last season will quickly turn to anger if the defensive frailties continue.
If we can learn how to defend and defend and take set pieces and train without so many injuries then yes maybe 😉
An Interesting take on how things have fared this short close season.
My one concern is and was the defence mainly the CB’s we at the moment have Hanley, Gibson, Klose, Godfrey and Zimmerman as our first choices.
Prior to coming to city he rarely had an injury problem now he seems to be more injured than fit so can he recover in time for the kick off and stay fit only time will tell
Strange one this called up for England record buy for Burnley then a falling out with Dyce, no first team football for 18months and training with Middlesbrough, have we got a good player or trouble maker, then there is his fitness and when will he be ready for selection.
Will he or will he not be here at the end of the transfer window that is the question, he really has but his body on the line for city in the last couple of days if he goes I can only wish him the very best of careers were ever he goes
A real class act since arriving but nearly as injury prone as Jarvis was, he add composure to the defence and scores the odd goal or two, have we seen the best of him or should we cut are losses this league could be to tough for him to stay fit maybe 10 games this season not sure.
Another that adds class to the defence, Injuries last season took a toll on his appearances and showed our weaknesses at set pieces and corners, another that needs to stay fit.
Zimmerman, Godfrey or Klose look good and can play a pass but very error prone they lose concentration at vital times.
Zimmerman, Klose, Godfrey and Hanley a bit if class with an old fashioned English style CB
We now have Gibson to the mix and he is another like Hanley an old fashioned CB that can pass better(or could)
We have Godfrey until 16th October possibly moving on, Klose, Hanley injured and Gibson unfit so in reality only one long term defend to rely on in Zimmerman, Fawemo U23 injured and the new Dane but are they ready for the champions.
I have left Tettey out he will put his heart and soul into any position he is chosen to play but our midfield is lacking steel when he isn’t there.
Overall we still need another CB that has some experience in this league without being injury prone for me a cheap option would be Carter Vickers at Spurs.
Come next Saturday we will see how this squad performs we are the relegated club that is there for the taking 12 without a win so will look a southern soft touch to Huddersfield who with a Biesla like manager have something to prove.
Onwards and upwards
Stay safe and stay healthy
Inside Right says
I think your assessment of Webber is too generous. The is the man who sent a lame horse to start the race it never felt comfortable in.
On the other hand, he needs this season to work out. Otherwise his best chance of working abroad will be fruit picking in Romania. As the man said, he’s just ‘passing through’.
If the status quo remains, I’m not confident about returning to then top table that fears our hapless majority shareholders, but more likely the season after. The main reason for this was what a friend reminded me there other day.
“The trouble with Farkeball, it can be F’all.’
If we are in the position as before where too many players take too long the play in a certain way, results won’t be complimentary. Much will also depend on how many key players stay, at least until January.
Farkeball is wonderful when you have the personnel and confidence to make it work. But when it doesn’t, it’s boys against men and we end up being far too easy to play against. Plus there is absolutely no pressure on Farke, which is not healthy.
The Championship is a tough and unforgiving league, that can catch you with your trousers down. Let’s hope NCFC keep it all together and then see what happens. My £20 note, is firmly staying in my pocket.