What a couple of weeks it’s been in Norwich City world. So much has happened yet, in my view, nothing has changed for the better.
I apologise in advance if what follows isn’t to your liking. If you have an opposing point of view, then feel free to share them in the comments below.
So, last week, Ben Knapper gave a full 21-minute interview that for an old-timer like myself was as clear as the Breydon mud flats.
He stated that for his review he had to ignore the surrounding noise (a Webber sound bite if ever I heard one) and I can see why, but surely by ignoring the views of your paying customers you are also turning your back on the problems that surround the club.
Stating that at no time was David Wagner near getting his P45 was a brave or maybe a pressurized statement, not helped by others giving the German assurances that his job was safe.
The P45s in the Championship this season have been given to coaches with much better stats than Wagner, and City have a history of major decisions being delayed to the detriment of the team. Injuries have been a factor, of course, but so too have poor team selections, square pegs in round holes, and, the big one for me, no recognised playing style.
The players look, at times, as if they are strangers and not knowing what position they are covering, yet the next game they look as if they could take the league by storm. So what changes in between?
Is it team selection, planning, coaching, or a combination of all three? From the outside, it looks like Wagner and his Valkeries are doing just enough to stay employed till the end of the season.
After-match comments from the coach are often baffling but his latest explanation for not bringing on a striker to replace Sargent was especially bizarre; saying he wanted 11 players to finish the game and with Borja Sainz’s having been booked (he hadn’t been), he thought he would get sent off. Surely his bench is at fault for not confirming whether Sainz was booked or not.
Anyway… back to Knapper’s interview.
Wanting to make a pathway to the first team and reduce the age of the squad sounds great, but first you need a head coach willing to select players who are performing well in the U21s; not ship them out on loan to League 1 and 2 where they are out of sight out of mind and the pressure to play them has gone.
Would it not be better to show those with potential that they have a chance by using two places on the bench at every game for promising talent? Then give said talent a 5/10 minute cameo once the games are won (or even lost) and it gives them some hope of a future first-team opportunity.
Jonny Rowe was given a chance by Dean Smith but wasn’t rated as highly as Alex Matos, who is now at Chelsea and playing on loan at Huddersfield. We could soon see a similar thing with Ken Adoh with clubs circling. He has a contract on the table but can’t agree on the finer details, so will not sign.
Matos left for Zilch with a sell-on clause, so will Adoh be the next to depart with a sell-on clause in the hope of a big payday further down the line?
Six players are out of contract this summer. Lungi Sorensen, Dimi Giannoulis, and Sam McCallum, among them, could all leave for nothing yet Ashley Barnes and Shane Duffy still have two-year deals. In addition, Angus Gunn, Rowe, Josh Sargent, and Gabriel Sara could all depart in the summer for the right offers.
While the official line is that we don’t need to sell, in reality, if we want to refresh this team … that is unless Mark Attanasio’s Group stumps up the money for the rebuild.
In my view, three things need to happen:
1) I have suggested a few times already that change is needed now rather than a year or two down the line. Delia needs to sell to the Attanasios in order for the club to try and move forward. Let’s have no recriminations around what chances have been lost and missed in the past. Let’s start with a clean sheet.
2) Wagner and his coaching team should leave. Again, with no recriminations around the failed opportunities to take the club forward.
3) A new coach and his staff installed now and given time to assess this squad and make recommendations to Knapper around style and the players that will fit that preferred style.
In reality, none of it will happen anytime soon. City are stuck fast in the Breydon mud flats and/or just drifting up the Wensun without a captain or a set of oars. Instead, Delia has set her Valentine’s menu up in her franchise restaurant without a care in the world, ignoring all the noise from a growing discord of supporters.
Well, that’s my view of where we are. I know some will disagree. Let me hear your thoughts…