Considering we’re still nearly three weeks away from the big KO, we’re already well and truly in the throes of the highs and lows of the footballing roller-coaster.
The obvious high of the week was news of Daniel Farke’s contract extension to 2025 – a fine outcome after a few weeks of speculation – but a comment made by Stuart Webber in the next day’s presser, intended to discuss and ‘celebrate’ the contract extension, has caused a ripple or two across the Canary Nation.
But the good news first, and by whichever metric you judge your head coach, the news that Farke is prepared to hang around Norfolk for four more years has to be a good thing. Okay, so his first crack at the Premier League was one of our most disappointing in the top flight, but, as discussed in the debrief, a combination of things – many beyond Farke’s control – conspired to make it so underwhelming.
And that abject failure will have hurt, and Farke will have learnt.
Project Restart, in particular, was painful for every individual linked to Norwich City Football Club, remotely or otherwise, but for Farke it was a severe dent to his reputation and his professional pride. I don’t see him signing up for three additional seasons on top of the one he has remaining if he didn’t believe we will be more competitive this time around.
Among the long list of things that went wrong in 2019-20, there will be things that Farke, if he had the opportunity again, would have done differently. Now he has that opportunity and with the added comfort of knowing where his medium-term future lies.
Equally important is the fact that assistant manager, Eddie Riemer, head of performance Chris Domogalla and first-team coach Christopher John also signed the same contract extensions – important to the continuing development of the club and important to Farke himself.
The argument around where Farke sits in the pantheon of great Norwich City managers is a discussion for another day, and can only really be gauged once his tenure here has run its full course. One thing we can all agree on though is that in terms of the playing style, his City teams are the most aesthetically pleasing of the lot.
For years I’d looked on in awe and wonder at other teams who could retain possession and pass the ball for fun. Now that’s us. And in doing so, Farke has found a formula that uses that pleasing-on-the-eye, progressive, passing football to win games of football – at least in the second tier.
Daniel Farke and Norwich City have been good for each other – no question – and as a person, he fits the mould perfectly. Understated, calm, thoughtful and acutely aware of what makes the Canary faithful tick. In the same way Gareth Southgate modelled his England squad to reflect his own measured, calm persona, Farke does the same here.
He gets us and I like to think we get him.
Only good things can come out of having him here with us for a few more years.
Stuart Webber, of course, is the one who brokered this deal and who should be lauded for getting the team together in the first place. With no Webber there’d be no Farke, and for that we will always be thankful. For every good turn Farke has delivered, Webber has more than matched him.
But it was a comment made by Webber, as he and Farke faced the press in midweek to discuss Farke’s extended contract, that triggered an #NCFC Twitter storm the like of which we hadn’t seen for at least a couple of days.
The BK8 fiasco was, not for the first time, the root of the problem; namely, the fact that particular deal had to be ripped up and replaced with one that was substantially less lucrative.
Essentially, the impact has been felt in this summer’s transfer budget to the extent that it will likely equate to one less new signing – a non-signing that may or may not, some argue, be the difference between staying up and getting relegated.
Where it got messy was when a slightly tetchy Stuart alluded to the fact the BK8 deal had been overturned because of a noisy minority on Twitter who objected in the strongest possible terms to the company’s less-than-wholesome advertising methods. He also referenced some fans groups who united to put pressure on the club over the same issue.
I take his point.
Purely from a financial perspective, and in his role as overseer of the transfer pot, that decision was a costly one. I get that. And I get how the club can’t be seen to kowtow every time they make a decision that part of the City fan base doesn’t like. That would be a very dangerous road.
But, speaking personally, I don’t see how the club can purport to operate under the guise of a family club, one that places value on community and equality while taking the filthy lucre of a company that espouses not one of those values.
Even for a Premier League football club, some things are worth more than pounds, shillings and pence. The fans, in my view, were right to object in those strongest possible terms to BK8 being our partners.
I know some will disagree. If that makes me a ‘snowflake’, guilty as charged.
Let us know your thoughts (while, of course, still being polite and respectful).