I have a dilemma.
There are several things I ought to be doing this Saturday. I also have a ticket for Brentford.
There’s a strident voice in my head – which I suspect will be echoed by comments on this article – telling me it would be madness to expect anything other than another miserable afternoon for City’s supporters to endure.
There’s another voice, small but just audible, telling me it might be different.
The first voice is hard to argue with. Though Brentford came up with us, the two teams’ starts could hardly be more contrasting.
Brentford have played with boldness, identity and belief – all the things missing in Norwich’s performances. They’ve been rewarded with results as well as plaudits: wins over Arsenal and West Ham, a pulsating 3-3 draw with Liverpool.
City have scored 3, conceded 25. Brentford have scored 12, conceded 12.
On top of the mauling at Chelsea, we just lost to a Leeds side that’s not a patch on last season. People within the club must be asking the same questions that the fans are.
Judging from social media, there’s a body of fans who don’t want to read any comment on the club that doesn’t call for Daniel Farke’s head. There’s a case, of course. I have to agree with Chris Sutton – a rarity in itself – that if a change of Head Coach is to be made, it should happen sooner rather than later.
Personally, I’m not calling for it. Before you mutter “happy clapper as usual”, let me just offer a couple of comments. Not excuses – the goal figures I’ve just cited couldn’t allow that – just comments.
In 2017, I called for the sacking of Alex Neil. He had a settled squad, certainly one of the strongest in the division that year, but it was consistently and systematically under-performing. He’d lost his belief, and the players reflected it. There was no prospect of improvement while he stayed.
For all our current issues, it’s not the same situation.
I took some flak for a Twitter post on Sunday – not the usual bile at my political moderation, but ridiculing my positive comment on City’s performance.
The flak came after the game – but my post was at half-time. Of course, I wouldn’t have praised that second-half performance with its increasing desperation and disjointedness.
Our feeling about a game is always more heavily coloured by the second half than the first. A number of people came back to say to that yes – thinking about it with the benefit of time, the first half was one of our best so far.
It’s also true that you don’t get a point at Burnley without showing some guts and organisation. Nor do you create a situation where, if you’d taken any one of four gilt-edged chances, you’d have beaten Brighton.
None of this is enough, of course. But have our last four performances, taken together, been devoid of positive signs, as our 2016-17 season under Alex Neil was? I don’t think so.
If we’re trying to be fair, it needs to be remembered that we lost our playmaker (who apparently felt the club so owed him a move that he refused to play for us again), and have been integrating a mass of new signings.
A measure of that: Brentford’s summer signings have made a combined total of 14 appearances this season, Norwich’s a combined total of 51.
Not excuses, as I say. After 10 games, Farke hasn’t found the right permutation of his resources. For whatever reason, we aren’t employing two of our brightest talents. For all our commitment in the first half against Leeds, the loss of shape and threat after we went 2-1 down was scary.
A lot isn’t right.
And yet. Unlike Alex Neil, Daniel Farke has a support staff who can help him analyse the flaws and opportunities for us. We have a better squad than two years ago, with signs of its potential in three of the last four games. That squad contains characters who can keep an even keel amidst the turbulence.
As Robbie Savage says, we’re far from the kind of shambles that his Derby team were when they set the Premier League lowest-points record.
Brentford, too, may not be the force they were at the start of the season. On-going injuries have hampered them; they’ve mustered fewer points from the last three league games than City have.
They’ll be strong opponents, and we can’t complain at pundits forecasting another defeat for us. But three successive defeats will have taken a little of the wind out of their sails.
And one day, City will get the breaks.
At the risk of disciplinary action by our editor, I’m copping out of a prediction this time. Just to say that one way or another, that first win will come – and I’d hate to have passed up an opportunity to be there.
I’ll be at Brentford.
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Tim Ball says
I think Stewart with every passing game it becomes more and more obvious Daniel Farke is not the starting point for this mess. It is without doubt the recruitment team.
Too young, lateness of arrival etc, etc but The bottom line is that they are not good enough ( Maybe one day but we need them now ! )
I thought Iwan’s piece on the Pinkun website today was spot on. Stuart Webber is trying to tell us that this time around in the EPL Daniel has a stronger squad than two years ago. Iwan’s not buying it and neither am I.
He has got too the point where all managers go when things get this bad, they start overthinking things and make things worse.
The law of averages suggests sooner or later we will win but I am not holding my breath.
I would go Krull-Aarons-Omobamidele-Gibson- Hanley-Dimi, Normann-Gilmour, Tzolis-Pukki-Idah For what it is worth.
Midfield Mike says
A big part of the problem NCFC have is that we don’t have enough fans that are true football people. We’ve got 28,000 immensely loyal fans, but we have very few that really get how this game works, tactically, psychologically, teamwork, skill… just immensely loyal come league 1 or Premier League.
Iwan Roberts gets his column inches but he was amongst those, in the summer, caught up in the hysteria and the assumptions at the time where there was this fallacy that the transfers made us better. I watched every arrival and had absolutely no clue how we were going to play. I even upset many of you because I was considered too negative before a ball had been kicked. Nothing made sense this summer. Gibson (see Andy O) and Giannoulis (see the clamour for Sorensen based on his work as a LB) are contestable for a few reasons,
On MFW, i think it’s fair to say we are all of a similar ilk. I read every comment of every article and I never doubt the contributor is or was a footballer of whatever standard and I bet 90% on here DO GET IT. And from my point of view, I am watching a catastrophic implosion of this football club,
There is so little foundation to build from. 2 years ago our defence was shattered by injuries…. But can you imagine a 3 man resolute group with Tettey, Vrancic, Buendia, Pukki, Cantwell and that missing link we never signed? It was so close. But this lot? Jesus, I literally cannot nominate an 11, in any formation, that I couldn’t pick apart with half of the Championship teams, let alone in the Premier League. Incredibly disjointed on so many levels.
It is farscial. The first few months we hid behind a veil of ‘who is our best midfield group?’. Then we pretended to have a defensive plan of 2, then 3 players ‘as we intended all along, it just took a long time to get Kabak over-the-line’. Now, it is a joke in attack. I mean embarrassing, woeful, absolutely clueless. And then you realise, ‘oh crap, that midfield still isn’t appropriate’ or ‘that defence looks weak even with 3 of them’. ‘Oh counter attack, Pukki breaking with his pace….’ …. oh sit back down and sigh.
This club no longer needs a coach, it needs a leader. Our most senior pros are teetering on negativity, defeatism, crucified esteems. Factor in disgruntled youth whose self inflated egos mask simple inability at this level and we are in a truly frightening situation,
Cantwell and Aarons are going to go for pennies to the pound this summer, Pukki, Krul, Hanley…. McLean…. There’s nothing to stay for. Pukki would be 33 assuming a 3rd consecutive promotion. Krul would be 35. These guys just won’t believe anymore.
I implore those that think there will be a plan next season, that DF will just promote us all over again…. Please….. trust in those that know. Not me, not MFW writers, trust the bloody experts on TV or the ex footballers who can see this train wreck coming. Neil Warnock has gotten teams into the top flight 4 times, but that doesn’t make him good enough does it? Paul Lambert, Chris Wilder, Nuno Santo, these prickly characters kept their teams in the top flight far more convincingly, logically, pragmatically, than DF is anywhere near to achieving.
Things have got to change because it isn’t about this season, it’s about the cliff we are close to falling from next season. There is nothing as a squad and it is critical that the guys here now get a new leader that they believe in, not necessarily a coach to make the football pretty. The recruitment is staggering, I just don’t get it. Where is a Tettey? A Vrancic? A Stieperman? Normann won’t be staying will he? Where is there a goal scorer? Who will be a club captain (who hasn’t had his confidence blown apart)?
“City are a million miles away from having anything cohesive to build upon.” Those words are so unnervingly accurate but the merry band marches on. It doesn’t matter if 26,000 show up in League 1, gate receipts don’t guarantee avoidance of administration anymore, If NCFC get these next few weeks wrong, we could be the next Ipswich or Sunderland in the blink of an eye. No SoccerBot, or anything I’ve seen from the U23s, is going to change that.
Alex B says
I just think that DF knows how Brentford will go about this game and could revert to a similar system that he used last season so we could change our luck.
Emi Buendia’s move doesn’t seem to be paying off for him at present I did read that Farke might be a top Championship manager and not quite up to it for the premiership maybe Buendia isn’t cut out for the premiership at Villa and would have failed better staying another season.
Mystic kev says
Brentford will throw drowning farke a life jacket tomorrow fancy a 21 win there just got a feeling also think there won’t be many points between us and Brentford come end of season Gilmore in for McLean tzolis for Sargent on the ball !
Roger Cole says
Krul; Aarons Omo Gibbo Williams; Sorensen Normann McLean; Gilmore Idah Pukki
Let me know if you don’t want your ticket! Btw anyone thought that given what happened with Project Restart that this might actually be the good part of the season?