After such optimism that was brought by the change many supporters demanded following the malaise and decline of the club over the last four seasons, Norwich City’s start to the 2017-18 season has been underwhelming.
Daniel Farke’s men lie 22nd in the Championship. Admittedly, the season remains in its infancy. However, Norwich will be angered considering pre-season expectations. The club has been busier than any of their Championship counterparts this summer, with a turnover of over 30 players. But what have we learnt from Norwich’s start to the campaign?
Norwich City: Five Things Learnt from August
Defensive Woes Still Present
Following the poor defensive record which hampered the Canaries’ promotion ambitions in the last campaign, many supporters were hoping for a drastic improvement under Daniel Farke, a man who held the best defensive record in Germany last season, albeit for Borussia Dortmund II.
Defensive solidarity is a key component of any promotion challenge. It’s paramount for success.
Farke’s men have conceded 12 goals, which is more than any other side in the division. Following the annihilation Norwich received at the hands of Millwall, Farke has once again dipped his toe in the transfer market to sign Grant Hanley from Newcastle. Hanley joins on a four year deal for a fee rumoured to be around £3m.
Hanley’s traditional attributes married with his Championship experience could help the leaky Norwich backline, but in order to push for the playoffs or even just a top half finish, Norwich need to improve defensively. Will Hanley help? Only time will tell.
Possession is not Nine Tenths of the law
Despite dominating possession in all bar two fixtures, Norwich have failed to keep up with the early pacesetters in the division. Norwich have controlled the ball well on the whole, however, it has looked one dimensional and slow for the most part.
Interestingly, Norwich have accumulated points against Fulham and QPR; they failed to dominate possession in both of those games. So is the possession style Farke is attempting to implement the correct method to go forward?
Conversely, the top five Championship sides with the most possession last season made the playoffs, so perhaps Farke’s continental approach is worth it in the long term.
Norwich need something to differentiate themselves in the final third. Despite the possession, they need an extra string to their bow in the final third, be that a cross, a shot from distance, intricate combination play or a turn of pace. Thus far the only inspiration has been provided from striker Nelson Oliveira.
Norwich’s abysmal record away from Carrow Road has continued into this campaign. Farke, so far, has been unable to register an away win as Norwich boss. Three away games in, and nine goals conceded, it’s evident Norwich’s issues are away from NR1.
Farke’s men looked to have overcome their away days blues following an impressive opening day display against Fulham. The mind boggles as to why Norwich can’t seem to perform away. Confidence is a potential factor, alongside tactical nous and strategies. Norwich will need to turn around the away from in order to compete.
The Germanic Core Have not Adapted
Stuart Webber has looked to emulate his Huddersfield formula as he looks to repeat his heroics from his tenure in South Yorkshire and transfer them to Norfolk. This included the recruitment of a German head coach and the signing of many German players.
Marcel Franke, Christoph Zimmermann and Mario Vrancic have all come from Germany, and are yet to adapt to the robust physicality of the English second tier. Franke and Zimmermann have been outmuscled, outthought and outfought thus far, and supporters, who have been patient with the new regime, will be demanding improved performances from the German duo.
Bosnian Vrancic impressed in pre season, but has looked out of place and bemused by the intensity of the division. Angus Gunn and Harrison Reed have impressed, but overall, Norwich have seemingly downgraded in regards of signings, based on early evidence. Let’s hope they come good.
James Maddison as a Central Midfielder
Starved of first team action last season, Maddison had to go on loan to Aberdeen to find first team football, before making his league debut for Norwich City against Preston, marking it with a goal.
Since Farke’s new systems have been void of a ‘number 10’, young Maddison has found himself in a deeper, more conventional central midfield role. Maddison has a 91% pass success rate from four Championship appearances. He has thus far repaid the faith show in him from Farke.
Maddison’s effortless transition into a deeper role has been enhanced by his technical ability. He has the ability to unlock defences, but also to buzz around midfield and be a giver-getter. He has also completed more tackles than Alex Tettey and his low centre of gravity has won Norwich a large quantity of free-kicks. His set piece quality is also wonderful.
Overall, August has been a difficult month for Norwich City. Defensive issues have hampered a start to the season which Norwich entered with a fresh and optimistic attitude. Norwich fans are going to have to rely upon their patience and hope the work in progress starts working soon, or they face a cycle of regression. Defend how Norwich have, and they will be in a relegation battle.
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