As confirmed by the club in the last few days, fan favourite defender Christoph Zimmermann has officially concluded his five-year stay in Norfolk, departing back to his native Germany for SV Darmstadt 98 on a permanent deal.
Unilateral good wishes flooded in towards the towering German defender following the announcement, with some fans seeing his departure as the official end of the Farke era while technically Grant Hanley and Angus Gunn are still standing from that first Farke transfer window.
This got me thinking… how have the careers of the six most memorable Farke-era signings played out since arriving in Norfolk in that summer of 2017.
Let’s have a look…
1. MARIO VRANCIC
‘Super Mario’ became the definition of a fan favourite during his four-year tenure as a Canary after arriving from SV Darmstadt 98 in July 2017. Despite a difficult first six months of adjusting to the ferocity of the Championship, a positive end to the 2017-18 would get Mario into City fans’ good books, but it would be the historic 2018-19 title-winning season where he would truly win the hearts of supporters.
Several iconic goals, including the brace away at Leeds in the mid-season title crunch match, the last-minute equalising free-kick against Sheffield Wednesday and finally the title-sealing strike away at Aston Villa on the final day, sent Canaries fans into raptures.
A season of limited starting appearances in the Premier League would follow for the Bosnian, his only goal coming in a 2-2 home draw against Tottenham. Vrancic’s final campaign as a Canary would once again end in a promotion filled with important goals that would provide the kickstart to the immediate resurgence back to the top flight – a last-minute winning free-kick at home against Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers in a 2-1 win the most notable of his strikes in that special season.
The number 8 would depart on a free transfer to Stoke City in the summer of 2021, but despite impressing Potters’ fans with his ability in his debut campaign, he eventually left on loan to Croatian outfit HNK Rijeka ahead of this coming season.
2. CHRISTOPH ZIMMERMANN
The catalyst for this article, Zimmermann really impressed across his five-year stay in Norfolk, particularly in the Championship, etching himself into recent Canary folklore.
139 appearances, four goals, two Championship titles and that infamous head tackle against Wolves in his debut campaign were a fine return for a free transfer from the German fourth tier.
Unilaterally loved by supporters and forming a wonderful relationship, deepened with his consistent work as an ambassador for the club’s Community Sports Foundation. A true stalwart of a defender who embodied everything representative of the Daniel Farke era.
3. TOM TRYBULL
Arriving on a free transfer, and often referred to as ‘Super Tommy Trybull’, he was a true warrior in the centre of midfield who oozed class with his technical ability. His entrance as a City player would begin in style with a debut goal in a substitute appearance against Charlton Athletic in the EFL Cup.
Across his time in Norfolk, Trybull would form excellent midfield partnerships with the likes of Alexander Tettey, Mario Vrancic, Kenny McLean and Moritz Leitner. His most memorable performance was in the 3-1 away win against Leeds United, going to one of the most hostile grounds in the country and bullying the energetic Leeds midfield, winning the midfield battle comfortably.
However, after two-and-a-half good seasons, making 74 appearances and scoring five times, it would, unfortunately, end on a sour note for the German, with him being cast aside by Daniel Farke after Premier League relegation, alongside Moritz Leitner and Josip Drmic.
A loan spell with Blackburn Rovers would follow before spells with Hannover 96 and SV Sandhausen in the German second tier.
4. MARCO STIEPERMANN
Talk about modern-day City cult heroes – Stiepermann most definitely falls into that category. Two promotions, memorable goals, celebrations and everything in between.
After a difficult first campaign, mainly applying his trade as a left-back, the German would be moved as an attacking midfielder alongside the likes of Onel Hernandez and Emi Buendia as part of the supporting cast to Teemu Pukki. In doing so he galvanised City’s attacking play, culminating in a stellar individual season during City’s 2018/19 title-winning campaign, accumulating nine goals and six assists.
Unfortunately, two difficult seasons would follow for the German, who struggled to reproduce the same quality in the Premier League as Farke’s side succumbed to relegation, and the 2020-21 season a long-covid-related illness meant Stiepermann was forced to only play a limited role.
He would depart the following summer on a free transfer to Paderborn, before subsequently dropping to the German fourth tier ahead of next season.
5. GRANT HANLEY
Joining from Newcastle United for a rumoured £3million late in the 2017 summer window, the Scottish international would go on to form a solid partnership with Christoph Zimmermann and Timm Klose in a back three.
He also played a hand in one of the most iconic East Anglian derby goals in recent memory, providing a perfectly placed cross deep into stoppage time for Timm Klose to head home in front of the Barclay End, further maintaining the unbeaten run against Ipswich.
However, Hanley would not kick on his fine form in the following two seasons, hampered by injuries meaning he was only able to feature 24 times.
The 2020-21 campaign was much more positive for the Scotsman, becoming an ever-present alongside Ben Gibson especially as City dominated the league and clinched a second Championship title under the reign of Daniel Farke.
His consistent performances were rewarded with a call-up to the Scotland national team for the 2020 European Championships. Finally, despite a collectively dismal Premier League season, Hanley would make 33 appearances and earn respectable reviews for his individual performances.
6. ANGUS GUNN
Finally, ending with Angus, the shot-stopper would initially re-join his boyhood club on a season-long loan deal from Manchester City, solidifying his position as City’s number 1 with assured performances, playing every league game of that season and even earning himself call-ups to the England U21s, as well as training with Gareth Southgate’s squad.
He was rewarded for his efforts with a big-money summer move to Southampton in the Premier League. Twenty-two Premier League appearances across two seasons would follow, but he was unfortunately deemed surplus to requirements by Ralph Hassenhuttl after the infamous 9-0 defeat at home against Leicester City in 2019.
A final loan move to Stoke City during the 2020-21campaign followed before Farke would go on to resign his first ever City number one in the summer of 2021 for a fee upwards of £5million with the aim of eventually overtaking Tim Krul in the pecking order. This now looks like a real possibility under Dean Smith.
Zimmerman must be the most successful captain ever here in terms of results. But the times they are a-changin’. As the last remnant of the German occupation departs we have new development to the story – The boys from Brazil.
Maybe Vrancic was let go a season to early and could have steadied the midfield last season.
Zimmerman will always be a class act and hopefully be in the hall of fame before long as with most of the others.
Farke built a couple of good sides that played great football but is there a dark side to him Trybull, Drmic, Morizt, Nelson all left under a cloud Cantwell fell out and never got selected.
Could Smith soon have a similar problem as Farke in that the person holding the whiphand wants to build his team and not the managers
Time moves on, the guys you mentioned go down into canary folklore to join the others that rightfully have their places in our minds and hearts. Always I feel a little sad as players leave, but I only wish them all the success that lays ahead for them. Thank you each and every one, we have some fantastic memories, which thankfully theses are on video.