Things were looking up.
Our first away win followed by a rousing performance against Arsenal and City were on an unbeaten run. Thoughts went back to a Grant Holt 1-0 victory when City wee in a similar lowly position before going on a 10 game unbeaten run towards mid-table security.
The Southampton result was not in my plan. Watching the first half reminded me of some of the performances in Farke’s first season in charge.
The lads were pressed and suffocated on the ball. This led to negative passing, losing possession, slow build-ups and what looked like a general lack of confidence. The second half improved. Who spotted the rear but exquisite pass assist from Alex Tettey?
For some reason, the team simply weren’t brave enough on Wednesday evening.
Neither pundits or fans expected Norwich City to be crowned Champions or indeed get promotion followings Daniel Farke’s mediocre first season in charge.
Daniel’s plan nicely dropped into place earlier than the club or any Canary had truly wished for. We must hang onto the fantastic achievements of last season and the task that exists for this one. Get onto YouTube and enjoy another blast of quality goals!
In Farke we trust, he offers an honest option in front of the camera and tells it how it is. We were publicly informed that the club was preparing for an immediate return to the Championship before the first ball was kicked.
The director of football, Stuart Webber had a mini cull of deadwood and busily concentrated on resigning the majority of the squad on extended contracts. The philosophy has been to only sign players who have the potential to increase in value which is welcomed. There is no place for names on the way down or players without aims and dreams.
When last in the Premier League, City attempted to stay up with big value signings such as Stephen Naismith, poor decisions which created the financial issues currently still being endured at the club.
If Norwich stay up this season, it will be achieved on an incredibly low budget so expectations are low. The squad has been stretched beyond capacity through injury. Farke was able to play 90 minutes with two centre backs for the first time against Everton since August.
This weakness was evident from the outset this season with experienced leaders Grant Hanley and Timm Klose both recovering from injury and operations going back to the end of last season. I doubt any Premier League squad would have cope effortlessly with that scenario?
It has been unprecedented in my memory for 12 senior players to be injured at the same time.
Farke’s philosophy of passing the ball out from the goalkeeper brought its rewards in the Championship and the occasional error. This style has been punished this season with players being caught into possession in dangerous areas.
The return of injured players has created the situation where senior footballers are now being demoted from the starting line up and indeed the bench through important competition, Moritz Leitner being a case in point.
City are designed to counter-attack, therefore the pace of returning Onel Hernandez and the passing quality of Mario Vrancic improves the options available to Daniel.
In recent years Norwich has established themselves as a yo-yo club with aspirations to become a ‘Bournemouth’ who provides competitiveness to every encounter. Getting the first victory against Newcastle ‘early doors’ was vital. Having said that, it took a further eight games to win again after beating Manchester City. An unbeaten run should have been on the agenda, it was two games following the Arsenal draw..green shoots. The Saints trampled on us, can we go again against the Blades?
The current league table shows City only five points from 14th place. It is no coincidence that form has improved over the last two games with the return of the motivational and inspiring captain Christoph Zimmerman. Having said that, set pieces brought City to their knees once again and needs to get sorted.
Zimbo has lifted the confidence of the team. Beyond the luxury of having starting two centre-halves, the back four now looks far more solid, defence midfielders Ibrahim Amadou and Alex Tettey can concentrate of fulfilling their intended roles and the attacking midfielders can play with more freedom.
It’s a fragile recovery as another key injury to a thin squad could tip the delicate apple cart once again.
Recruitment has been superb under the guidance of Webber, the only real blip being Teemu Pukki’s attacking backup Swiss striker Josip Drmic who came to club with a history of injuries and is suffering again. To a lesser degree, Patrick Roberts has failed to provide adequate competition since joining in the summer.
The club will not jeopardise the balance of the squad with a big-money signing. Additions could be recruited through the spine of the team be it a centre-back, midfielder or striker.
As to the question of staying up, my heart says yes and my head maybe. I would not be prepaid to put money on staying up however, Farke achieved a miracle last season and he and the squad can do it this season.
Squad availability is currently at the point where will can objectively view whether there is true potential in the squad to compete, collect enough points and stay up.
With 69 points still to play for, my hope that City will never have to play Ipswich again in the league still burns strong!