The appointment of Stuart Webber in April 2017 was greeted in a reasonably low key manner by us NCFC fans – maybe a few of us were aware of his Liverpool connections [he worked under both King Kenny and Rafa Benitez] and his subsequent success with Huddersfield Town. Personally I knew the name, but little else.
During a relatively brief period of transition immediately prior to this appointment, we saw the departure of the combination of Jez Moxey and Alex Neil, and weren’t particularly disheartened by either announcement. Certainly not in the case of Moxey, who will remain the strangest executive appointment ever made by Norwich City in my supporting lifetime, which has been a lengthy one.
Gary mentioned yesterday the Sporting Director/Head Coach set up as the brainchild of then Chairman Ed Balls, who very much remains a supporter although he stepped down officially a while back.
Ed attracted a certain amount of mistrust due to his socialist alignment with Delia and some ridicule courtesy of his appearances on Strictly from some quarters but you have not been Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer if you don’t know your marbles. Ed did. And, a useful player in his day, he knew more about football than many politicians.
He brought us the gifts of Webber and thus Farke, which almost four years on are becoming more apparent by the day. I’m just going to reprise a few personal thoughts on what we have all come to know and largely love about *Farkeball*.
At first I was a bit, erm, who’s this guy from Bundesliga II? Who are Eddie Reimer and Chris Domogalla? And particularly who are the new German contingent of Tom Trybull, Christoph Zimmermann, Felix Passlack and Marcel Franke?
I soon found out.
Farke’s first season was a right old mixed bag, although the signs were there of a developing philosophy. We played in the *Norwich Way* and every game was enjoyable to watch with the chronic performance against Millwall being the nadir. I didn’t have to worry about who Franke or Passlack were anymore after that, but became ever-increasingly aware of Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia.
The second season developed into Farkeball 1.5. The acquisitions of Tim Krul, Jordan Rhodes and others helped us to win the Championship with relative ease, if not exactly at a canter. Beating Blackburn 2-1 at Carrow Road to seal promotion was my finest football experience since Wembley in May 2015.
Of course promotion was achieved under the *we’ll score more than you, come and have a go* banner. It worked – at that time – and the emergence of Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis, Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell was a joy to behold.
Our first attempt at the Premier League under Farke was under-funded, injury beset and frankly appalling after *Project Restart* so I won’t dwell on it apart from stating the obvious: that win over Citeh sent shivers down my spine.
So here we are now, with Farkeball 2.0 in full flow. A different capability in defence largely due to the inspired signings of Ben Gibson and Oliver Skipp allied to the natural ability of Aarons and the experienced head [not so literally these days] of Grant Hanley.
Gung ho has been replaced by a more measured approach and the ACN moments have largely evaporated.
Where are we now? Eleven points clear of third with eight to play, that’s where. There are Norwich squads who could have stuffed up from this point on but not this one. Even with Gibson’s season over and a sizeable unit of *homing Canaries* winging their way back from Christ knows where in the dark hours of Wednesday and Thursday, I’d be disappointed with anything less than a point at Preston.
When Ollie Skipp said he’d turn out at Deepdale even with no sleep, it says something about our current crop.
I’m sure the lads will take it and grab it – it’s theirs. And ours of course. Not to lose, to win.
Gary touched on the MFW crew and our wonderful readership yesterday, to which regular commentator Tim Ball responded: “You have helped so many of us to endure this awful time. So thank you one and all.”
That might be true Tim, but it works both ways. Without our readers we’d be nothing and in my four or five years with MFW I’ve made some great friends, both in the flesh and on the site. Mrs P has met half a dozen of you too.
I love replying to your comments – I’ve had several from Preston, Liverpool, Villa and even 1p5wich fans. Keep ’em coming.
I don’t look like George Clooney and don’t possess a dinner suit, but in his style, I must thank Forest’s Christian Brown, Liverpool’s Tony Evans and Nick Hart of Millwall for their MFW preview help, if not least because they do all the work for me. Subbing? What’s that?
And of course the admirable and quite ridiculously humorous Tim Sheppard for his help with our Bolton previews. Congratulations on your well-earned retirement Tim
Finally thanks to *me preview posse* of Alex A, Alex B, Bernie and Cutty. I’ll be after ya about a week before Watford, dudes.
And for Stuart and Daniel, I can only choose this as a tribute [I can’t stand T Rex].