Day 2. Article 3.
I promised you some attempts at positivity after it was suggested that Martin and I were turning MFW into a miserabilist state, and the good folk of Twitter duly delivered.
The third person to pick up the HC baton was Alex Bullard, who attempts to look beyond the gloom and find some stuff not to be angry about.
All yours, matey.
So, let’s focus on the positives or at least try to find some. It might be like wading through compost hoping to discover a diamond, but I’m foolish enough to roll up my sleeves and rummage around with the aim of unearthing some hope after such a miserable end to the season.
It’s important to remember that you often learn more from defeat than victory; that failure teaches us more than success. So, if that’s true, then this squad of Norwich players should be a lot wiser now than they were at the start of the season.
At its core, this current squad is clearly a work in progress. As they shifted away from the spine of the team that had been assembled and established under Daniel Farke, this current group of players were not up to the challenge. Add to this, the hangover of relegation and a change of manager and style, and it’s not hard to see why success was difficult to find on the pitch.
But there is a core of young players who all have potential. From Andy Omobamidele to Liam Gibbs to Adam Idah, there is a young spine emerging. Josh Sargent has improved from last season and perhaps Christos Tzolis can do the same with more playing time next season.
These are players at the start of their careers, not those winding down. At times they can be frustrating but that’s what comes from letting players learn and develop in the first-team.
And learning comes in lots of forms.
It often takes South American players longer to settle and establish themselves in European football in the best of circumstances and this season has been anything but that for Norwich. So, with that in mind, the performances of Gabriel Sara, who ended up as player of the season, and Marcelino Nunez, who at times has shown plenty of promise, suggest that next year they could offer even more.
We all look on with envy at Burnley and the job Vincent Kompany has done in rebuilding that team, but they are the exception. It nearly always takes more time.
As much as it can hurt in the short-term, if we give young players time to develop then it can lead to a big payoff. You only have to look at Arsenal, where fans were calling for Mikel Arteta’s head, and look where they are now with many of the same players. This is what can happen if you give young players and a head coach time.
I acknowledge that Stuart Webber is an incredibly divisive figure among Norwich fans right now and many think his time is up, but what is undeniable is that he knows how to get the team out of the Championship. As bad as things appear right now, he rebuilt a side for Farke and has now got to do the same for David Wagner.
Wagner clearly hasn’t got enough out of this squad and our failure to make the playoffs should lead to serious questions being asked. But, much like with Webber, Wagner has shown that when he has a team built for his own style, he can not only get a team out of the Championship but can keep it in the Premier League.
If we need to make signings for Wagner then the first name who falls into that bracket is Ashley Barnes. I’m personally not a big fan of Barnes and he’s far removed from the man he could replace, Teemu Pukki, in terms of personality and playing style, but he can be incredibly effective.
Even more so when used by a manager who knows how to get the best out of him and that, for me, is Wagner. Barnes would also offer a guiding hand to Idah and add some much-needed bite to a team that far too often has rolled over and revealed its soft underbelly.
This change in the profile of potential signings would certainly signal a shift in the type of player Norwich are looking at. To me, this suggests they’ve identified weaknesses within the squad and are trying to find the appropriate fixes.
We need to add experience to help the younger players, but it needs to be the right experience.
Another area we can call on is the Academy. One of the hallmarks of Farke’s team was academy players who made the leap into the first team. Abu Kamara has been around the first team and he’s another who could feature more next season. Jonathan Rowe had a horrible season with injury but he’s shown enough in his limited time on the pitch to suggest he’s worth more opportunities.
With Tony Springett and League One’s Young Player of the Season, Bali Mumba, to come back into the squad next season, we’ve got young players with something to prove, just like in the Farke era.
Nobody is suggesting the job the Club faces over the summer to reshape this squad is easy. The end of the season form was rancid and when that rot sets in it can be fatal.
But now is the time to rebuild. We’ve got the tools and we’ve got people who know how to use them. There’s so much potential in this squad and with the right additions I still believe we can be successful next season.
It might be foolish, but I’d take a fool’s hope over no hope at all.
Sadly, I will disagree with you on Webber and building a team. For me, I’m more inclined to suggest that our German contingent were all Farke’s doing – he would have known them and their reputations when he was at Dortmund 2.
Both Kieran Scott and Farke had to put pressure on Webber to sign Buendia, so is he living off the hard work of others. He’s taken all the credit for Godfrey, Maddison, the Murphys and Lewis and all these were at the club prior to him arriving. Yes,he got good money for them but that’s not recognising good talent.
A rumour I heard was that Webber’s old boss at Liverpool, now at Villa, gave him the heads up that Smith was about to be sacked just after he sacked Farke.
Webber looks to have surrounded himself with yes men who he has recruited before and all at Huddersfield.
Do I see Webber as our saviour? No his bubble has burst at City and he’s fighting a rearguard action with his wife safeguarding his job.
Before City can go forward they need to clear the decks from the boardroom down. No one can foretell how this summer will take shape but it looks like going from players with a resale value to now looking at players to save people’s job. From a 20plus goals a season to 7. I wonder where the other 13plus goals will come from?
A good read.
Well said, I believe most of the credit for successful recruiting belongs to Scott and not Webber.
Since Scott left the recruitment has been an absolute disaster for which nobody has been made accountable.
It beggars belief that the best part of £50 million can go west and the club pretends things are ok!
Thanks for taking the time Alex. These three pieces over 2 days provide every bit of positivity that can be wrung from the nightmare last 2 seasons. Hats off to the contributors who placed their heads well and truly above the parapet.
I think it is very telling that the comments on these three articles pale into insignificance against the slew of opinion and rhetoric that accompanied, in particular, Martin’s doomcast. Perhaps we just like to vent and boy did the Canaries give us ample opportunities over the last 24 months.
Just wondering who’s supposed to be making the appointments if everyone has lost their job? Perhaps employ a recruitment agency and welcome back Jez Moxey? Not cheap either.
I don’t think Barnes is a Norwich type of player but perhaps this is a good thing,it at least shows that they’re trying to change things.
I’m not sure who the next young prospect will be, Chelsea have just signed one so we must be doing something right. Elliot Myles and Michael Reindorf look very promising.
martin penney says
I really enjoyed reading that.
Not to the extent that I have suddenly found a new belief in the Board and senior management of NCFC – only they can do that – but MFW is all about debate and I am sure you have got people thinking with the observations you have made in your article.
I was particularly cheered with the way you referenced our younger players such as Messrs Springett and Mumba – I’d like to hope we could incude Jon Tomkinson and one of the young keepers such as Dan Barden in that bracket as well. Certainly there will be room in the squad for both a CB and a keeper next season!
Don’t be shy to write us another blog – I certainly enjoyed reading this one 🙂
Sax yellow says
Hi Alex , unfortunately all your positives are based on youngsters who have proved nothing and contributed nothing. Our youngsters don’t look coached and are not improving, I don’t believe a single player has improved since farke left . Farke built a team with nobody’s, but they all knew what they had to do and more importantly, knew where and what their team mates were doing . I haven’t seen a single partnership develop on the pitch since he left so no chance of a team.
All I see is free signings , loans and a couple 2 or 3 million pound signings. Unfortunately we will have to raise 25 to 30 million in player sales first . That will mean selling the best we have left.
Inside Right says
Webber can no longer be trusted, as hope is simply not enough for him to still be here. He’s failed.
While you could argue the ‘work in progress’ angle – despite most of the players showing little in either – we’re worrying behaving like a League One or even League Two side, with a lot of if’s, butt’s and maybes.
I’d like to know who really is responsible for signing a player who is nearly 34? While Barnes could be a useful addition to the squad and offer ‘something different’, he certainly does not fit the young and hungry model (Webber was good and signing young, but as for hungry the jury didn’t even turn up) so re-sale value is nothing.
This could suggest that Wagner will more influence than Farke even did with signings, but buying a player so senior could be a bold or desperate move. The first of many cheap buys or a one off that younger players can work around?
All you can have this season is hope, because as things currently stand, the club cannot afford anything else.