“I stand for football, and hopefully for beautiful football.”
When he arrived at Norwich City four years ago, Daniel Farke walked into a club that was without inspiration or a footballing identity. In an ever-evolving process, starting with a year of inconsistency and impotence, his second season was used to perfect what we now recognise as Farkeball. Season three was tough but Farkeball returned bigger and better than ever in season four, and the Canaries are now renowned for their entertaining style of play.
In years gone by, City fans were never too far away from a ‘they play decent football’ tag, but in truth, most of these musings were made largely from nostalgia, memories of City’s underdogs of ’93, who passed their way to Premiership success.
These foundations were never consistently built upon, however. A study of the various styles of football played following Mike Walker’s departure actually reveals an assortment of middle-ground tactics, a mosaic of ill-defined, mix-and-match setups.
Credit must first go to Stuart Webber, for aiming to create an identity when improved results were all fans initially hoped for. Webber took on a club in disarray and, already charged with the task of Premier League promotion, added to the mix a need to create a trademark style that fans could feel their club represented. He told the University of East Anglia: “The club had lost its way in terms of knowing what it wanted to be. When I asked the question ‘What should Norwich City stand for?’ they actually didn’t know.”
Off the pitch that identity had already been decided for the club. Perhaps not short term – the club’s set of ‘values’ was not well understood by its staff and Colney was built mainly of portacabins – but longer-term it was clear: a club in bright colours, hours’ drive away from any other league club and owned by a loveable TV chef.
It didn’t fit the narrative that such a unique club would be without a recognisable playing style, and this is perhaps the root of the somewhat forced ‘decent football’, perhaps unknowingly endorsed by many City fans.
Every football fan wants to believe, of course, that their team is known for playing good football, but the evidence simply wasn’t there on the pitch. In fact, without Farke it’d likely still be a popular belief that there’s always been a ‘Norwich way’.
The ex-Borussia Dortmund man has offered the Canary Nation the ability to look down upon more industrial sides, introducing a delightful snobbery that never previously existed. There is, at long last, a true ‘Norwich way’.
Anyone that’s watched the German’s side play knows exactly what Norwich City are: obsessed with the ball, proactive, exciting, technical and entertaining. Webber may be trying to avoid the soft side shown in 2019-20 but any new arrival will have no choice but to play in this way, no matter how physical or athletic they are.
Farke’s also brought an iconic and infectious personality to the manager’s chair for the first time in a long while. Perhaps the only coach to unite the City support so strongly in recent memory is Paul Lambert, whose brave, battling team did his talking on the pitch.
There have also been managers with likeable personas, Neil Adams and Chris Hughton to name two, but nobody has married the two like Farke; nobody has backed up their ‘nice guy’ image with a team that’s easy on the eye and successful.
What Daniel has offered most of all, however, is a crucial knowledge and assurance of City’s lasting individuality in a corporate football world that’s losing its character by the day. There have been some wonderful moments and the results speak for themselves, promotion after promotion, thrashing after thrashing, but what Farke has done that’s different to all the rest is to finally make this unique club off the pitch, totally unique on it.
Long, as the club’s announcement of a new four-year deal gives hope for, may it continue.
Bryan Wakefield says
Just need Stuart Webber and the Dereham Deco to put pen to paper now
martin penney says
Daniel Farke four more years, four more years, four more years. Daniel Farke for more years – he stays at Norwich.
With apologies to Fraser Forster for whom that air was coined.
And the fact that *Cantwell to Villa* has been shot out of the water by MB at the Athletic makes this a rather pleasant evening for us Canary types.
Cannock canary says
He just comes across as a really decent chap, the best signing of the Summer 👏👍
Colin B says
Best signing of the window.
David Bowers says
I like Daniel Farke and I’m glad he’s staying. I also hope what I’m about to write is proven horribly wrong 9 months from now, but…
I have to question this statement…
“There have also been managers with likeable personas, Neil Adams and Chris Hughton to name two, but nobody has married the two like Farke; nobody has backed up their ‘nice guy’ image with a team that’s easy on the eye and successful.“
You are talking about Farke as if he’s been successful. In the championship obviously he has. But in the PL he hasn’t. Hughton, Neil, and Lambert are all demonstrably more successful with (debatably) less skilled squads.
This is Farke’s season to prove we have style and substance.
Very debatable in terms of squads. I think it is a tribute to Daniel Farke’s coaching that you think this. Alex Neil walked into a squad that was chronically underperforming and rejuvenated them but he couldn’t sustain things. Hughton’s football bored us all to sleep, and how much of Lambert’s success was actually down to Culverhouse (he hasn’t achieved much since)? Daniel has achieved two promotions as champions and this despite the fact that because of the ‘sins of the past’ has had skilful players he has developed sold from under him. Who knows what will happen next year, a lot will depend on what ammunition Stuart Webber and his team unearth, but you cannot, in my opinion, attribute any of the success so far to the notion that Daniel was just handed a more skilful squad. He is, in my opinion, one of the best managers we have ever had.
David Bowers says
I guess it just depends on how you define “best” and again I’d point out the word “success”.
Ease on the eye, very possibly the best manager. Premier League position? Absolutely not. He would count as the worst for Norwich and one of the worst PL ever, among all clubs.
That with a squad that had Pukki, Buendia, Aaron’s, Lewis, Godfrey, Krul, Hanley, Bryam, Cantwell, Leitner, Vrancic etc…
I’d challenge you to review any of the previous PL campaigns and see how many players you’d deem more skillful than these.
Again, I hope this season and the next four he knocks it out of the park.
Respectfully I think you’re missing the point David. With the exception of Krul none of the others were widely known names before they got to NCFC and Farke’s tutelage. Emi was cheap, Teemu free, several academy players and some also rans. Farke and his team have transformed these players into premier league quality. Not suggesting for a second we’ll do a Leicester but I think we’ll be fairly comfortable this season.
David Bowers says
It wasn’t my point. Samuel compared Farke to other PL managers and said in comparison he was easy on the eye and successful.
I have no problem saying he’s a good coach (he is), or we play nice football (we do), but if you want to call him successful and then compare him to other PL managers. That’s just wrong.
Here’s our points finishes in the PL…
72 – Walker
53 – Walker
47 – Lambert
44 – Hughton
43 – Deehan & Megson
34 – Neil
33 – Worthington / Hughton
21 – Farke
Martin MacBlain says
You might be forgetting Gary Megson….anyone who suffered that in 1994/95 wouldn’t be labelling Farke as our worst ever….
David Bowers says
Just for calrification, I’m not saying he’s our worst ever manager. I’m saying he’s the least successful PL manager.
Megson was rubbish, but largely rubbish in The Championship. I don’t think he had more than a few weeks in the PL.
IMO, this had to be just about the most important signing of this window – especially when you read that his other ‘lieutenants’ have signed as well..
It would be great if we could now persuade the likes of Billing to move to NR1 and I’ve seen a rumour that Swansea and Cooper have reached a ‘mutual agreement’ and I believe we were interested in signing Vaughan at one time.
I am so delighted with this news. Daniel Farke is such a breath of fresh air. He is a decent and loyal man who loves football and understands its place in our hearts and lives. Your list of likeable managers was not meant to be comprehensive but missed the man that Farke most reminds me of, Dave Stringer – in my opinion the chief architect of Mike Walker’s successful team. Dave Stringer is a Norfolk boy through and through and for Daniel to be as passionate about Norwich as Dave Stringer was ( and I am sure still is) is remarkable. It really does feel as though Daniel’s blood runs as yellow as the rest of us and it is a passion I,for one, am truly thankful for.
Kev Hicks says
Good article Samuel,
Terrific news about Daniel Farke, and if its true that Todd Cantwell has every intention of staying, that’s great too! Somebody tie Stuart Webber to a desk until he signs his extended contract, and that would be perfect!
A couple more players in, and then bring on the Prem !
John Asher says
Cracking article. The fact that Farke is still undervalued by a few NCFC fans is sad, IMO. I feel privileged to be a fan at a time when Farke is our manager. Long may that continue.
Very interesting when you think that just under 10 months ago a few in the ‘Canary Nationn’ were calling for DF to be rep[aced after our last minute to Derby – how times have changed.
I saw a clip of his interview with Sky, where he says his ambition is for NCFC to become an established PL team. Personally, I’d love to see that happen, even if we have to endure another relegation.
SW has said that by not pursuing with the sponsorship deal with BK8 has depleted the transfer budget, has decreased his transfer budget, but I for one am not complaining.