Norwich are one of the best footballing sides to find themselves at the bottom of the Premier League table. However, their philosophy was not built overnight. Since Daniel Farke’s appointment at Carrow Road back in 2017, the likeable German has got the Canaries playing an attractive brand of football which put them head and shoulders above the rest in the Championship. Ultimately, it helped them to promotion to the top-flight last season. Despite their current predicament, they have continued to play in the same fashion and have pushed some of the top teams all the way – citing the 3-2 win over Manchester City in September as a prime example. Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber have shaped a talented squad through a targeted recruitment strategy. The emphasis on promotion of young players from the academy have seen players such as Todd Cantwell come through the system and establish himself in the first team. It’s a squad with a rich blend of youth and experience who complement each other nicely. From the outside looking in, Norwich appear to have all the foundations in place to become a regular feature in the Premier League. Arguably, Farke has bought out the best in the Canaries and deserves plaudits for his impact – so where have they fallen short?
Undoubtedly, Norwich have proven they can compete with the best of them. Traditionally, there are three reasons why teams find themselves near the bottom of the table: not scoring enough, conceding too many and lacking consistency. The Canaries have earned 21 points with five wins, six draws and 18 defeats from 29 matches. They have netted 25 goals – the joint least amount alongside Newcastle. They have shipped 52 goals and only Aston Villa have conceded more – who occupy 19th spot at the time of writing. Farke’s men are seven points adrift of safety ahead of their return to action against Southampton at Carrow Road on Friday evening. However, there are reasons for the Norwich faithful to proceed with careful optimism. During the 2014/15 campaign, Leicester had two less points than the Canaries after 29 matches and went on to secure survival that year. Plus, football is going to be different now. Factors such as momentum, form and atmosphere which play a huge part in the outcome of games have been removed for the foreseeable future and it remains to be seen what effect their absence might have. Dare we speak of another great escape? With the league title virtually sealed, could there be some drama and excitement still to come from other sections of the table?
The Great Escape?
It’s happened before and what are the chances of it happening again? It may seem a big ask but if we look at Norwich’s run-in, there are certainly points up for grabs. Five of their remaining nine league games are at Carrow Road where they will welcome Brighton, West Ham and Southampton who make up 14th – 16th plus mid-table Everton and Burnley. On their travels, they will go to Watford who are out of the relegation zone on goal difference at the time of writing. They will be desperate for something from that game considering they must visit Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City but in circumstances such as these no fixture has a foregone conclusion. Elsewhere, Norwich are still in with the chance at some silverware. They host Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on the final weekend of June. Without stating the obvious, the priority is Premier League survival and it’s clear what Norwich need to do. They have nine cup finals ahead of them where goals will be required along with a sturdy defence. With the fixtures tightly packed together, one victory could help them to gather some confidence and momentum. They must focus on themselves but will quietly hoping for those above them to drop points, opening the door for them to capitalise.
Whatever the outcome, this writer believes there is no question over the future of Daniel Farke. He has the potential to become a long-term fixture at Norwich. He has the fans and players on side, successfully building a promising model and attractive style of football that has proven effective. Survival would be nothing short of a remarkable achievement this season, but they will also be aware of the alternative. In the current climate, it’s hard to say whether the implications of relegation will be any different. We need stability in times of uncertainty; Farke exudes a much-needed air of composure. Norwich are a very likeable club who have the foundations in place to succeed at the highest level. They have shown they can get to the top, but their downfall has been the inability to establish themselves there. Once they can crack the code to that allusive element of consistency, this writer is confident that they can become a long-term fixture in the Premier League. For now, the final chapter of their season is still to be written. Norwich will resume their season this Friday evening with Southampton the visitors to Carrow Road for a 6pm kick-off. The relegation battle is poised for an intense finale and has the potential to go right to the wire.
Have Your Say
Now it’s time for you to get involved! Head to our Twitter page and give us your thoughts on the ultimate question. Would you ‘stick’ with Daniel Farke or would you ‘twist’ in favour of an alternative and if so, who would you choose and why?