Expectations this year are sky-high at Carrow Road.
In the close season, the list of exciting incoming signings hit double figures and outgoings were kept to a reasonable minimum. The new season has kicked off, the firework rocket has been lit and we’ve all retired to a safe distance.
How’s it gone so far? Well, we can see a weak glow somewhere in the gloom and hear a little fizzling in the drizzle but, as yet, no lift off.
So, are Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber under pressure at Norwich?
Very much not. And here’s why…
Since Farke and Webber began their fruitful partnership at City in the summer of 2017 they have generated over £106m through player sales and spent just £35m on incomings. That’s a transfer surplus of £71m in just over three seasons. Very good business. Very good business indeed.
In addition, expected TV income for a successful club in the Championship is around £9m a year. Assuming Norwich had not been promoted to the Premier League in 2019 they would have earned barely £35m for the period 2017/18 – 2021/22.
But they were promoted (in an extraordinarily unexpected and wonderful season) and the TV windfall from that, including planned parachute payments up to next season, roughly totals £180m. With their unexpected promotion Webber and Farke have already generated an additional TV income bonus of over £140m for the club over and above expected Championship levels. (These figures may be affected by COVID-19, but we’ll have to wait and see how that one pans out.)
If we add the unexpected transfer surplus of £71m to the unexpected extra TV money of £140m, the Webber & Farke magic show has dumped more than £210m extra over what was expected into the NCFC coffers during this period. That works out at a bonus £1.5m a week. Every week. For three years. An extraordinary achievement!
Just on that basis alone Farke is almost an immovable object. Short of City being bottom in March there is no way the club will jettison him. And rightly so. In fact with his record he is more likely to be lured elsewhere, probably by someone with the smell of the Black Forest in their nostrils. We should be grateful he’s still here.
But money isn’t the whole story. Let’s look at the environment and habitat Farke’s had to cope with since arriving. In mid-2017 the club was wallowing mid-table in the Championship and teetering on the brink of administration. ‘What to do… what to do…?’
Well, this is what he did (had to do, more accurately): He sold a stack of players. A whole teetering stack of them – I don’t need to tell you who – and for a great deal of money.
In addition to those sumptuously paid-for departures, there were those experienced senior professionals and first team squad mainstays who, for various unavoidable reasons, were released or left on a free: eg. Sebastien Bassong, Ryan Bennett, Youssouf Mulumbu, John Ruddy, Wes Hoolahan, Russell Martin, Ivo Pinto, Yanik Wildschut, Ben Marshall, and (*cough*, mutters something under breath) Steven Naismith.
In addition to permanent squad losses there were the temporary losses, injuries to key personnel at key times: eg. Timm Klose, Marco Stiepermann, Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley, Onel Hernandez, Sam Byram, Kieren Dowell.
In this context, the DF/SW achievements become ever more remarkable.
So, despite the season which shall not speak its name (2019/20, there I did it, dammit), Webber and Farke’s record is almost unbeatable. In any real universe.
Even the occasional whispers of a less-than-impressive ‘New Recruit = Success Story’ situation, it is still only whistling in the wind against the Webber/Farke whirlwind of wonder. As fans we should be happy, we should be grateful, we should enjoy the ride.
This season is unlikely to match the colourful coruscating coronation of 2018/19, but as this team beds in and performances solidify and results improve I expect City to evolve into a real force and finish comfortably mid-table to play-offs. If not better.
Things are looking good.
But most of all we should remember the two most important things. These two.
NB. Figures are estimated. Data compiled from Norwich City’s official annual accounts, Tranfermarkt, Wikipedia, and elsewhere on the internet.
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