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  1. 15 points
  2. 13 points
    Last night I came on here to bask in the glow of being 7 points clear . What I found was squabbling and city fans calling each other out ? What’s the matter with you lot ? Zonal marking ? Who is the worst player ? Let’s meet up for a punch up? I’m a better fan than you ? We are top of the league for goodness sake (oh yes - “it’s a poor league” ) .And the Binners are having a shocker . Enjoy the moment .
  3. 13 points
    Yes the ones they wore to Wembley in 1978
  4. 13 points
    Yes, Brentford looking to secure a Champions' League spot next season with that 3-2 win over Bristol City whereas Norwich only managed to beat Bristol 2-0 a few weeks ago.
  5. 11 points
    Can't beat a massive over reaction on a Saturday night
  6. 10 points
  7. 10 points
    Anyone know who the rest of the consortium are?
  8. 10 points
  9. 10 points
    Time to bring out the decades old classic
  10. 9 points
    I thought after 70 mins it was Birmingham who looked tired. BTW Does anyone ever celebrate a win anymore? That's four wins on the bounce 67 points from 32 games (Have we ever had that many before?) If only we could go, enjoy the wins and then celebrate.
  11. 9 points
    Official club statement. Brentford FC have decided not to take 3 points from our home game against Barnsley. We took the decision as a group as we believe it's not having an impact. We believe our time on the pitch shows how much better we are than all the other teams and we're going to use our energies to further that belief.
  12. 9 points
    I genuinely don't understand how anyone can seriously criticise a player (especially a foreigner) before at least ten games. The current culture of instant judgement and projection of opinion is depressingly hollow and usually inaccurate.
  13. 9 points
    Excellent . I hate when people get all sensible about the Binners. Feeling-sorry this , and I-miss-the-derby that . Sod all of that sensible nonsense . I hate them. I hope never to play them again , or even be in the same division . Some of us had to endure Micky Mills and his ludicrous mustache not only beating us and winning things but PLAYING FOR ENGLAND . It was a nightmare of epic proportion . So let them forever stay in the lower swamps of the football pyramid , struggling to compete with Accrington Stanley and slowly sinking into putrid oblivion. How marvellous!
  14. 8 points
    So tired that they played a lot better in the second half than the first.
  15. 8 points
    We are doing something tactically different this year. Something quite brave. It links with the issue of subs. We are preparing for a higher level of football and have been for a couple of months. We have matured our game to the point where we are far from the ‘you score 4, we score 5’ rollercoaster of yesteryear - and indeed the fluid, attack-minded disrupt-you-by-attacking methodology that won praise - though few points - at the higher level. Thus a strategic dilemma. As the club’s stated mission is Top 26 - and ideally for all Top 17 - then do you jump the hurdle that is in front of you (a) or prepare for the hurdle that is to come (b)? Everyone will say ‘I want both’ though this requires a serious overhaul of tactical approach, something of a change of mentality, whilst naturally retaining all of the fundamental principles of pattern of play. 1. How does this translate into what we see in front of us? 2. What is the Manager doing differently? 3. What are the players doing differently? 4. Do we - as fans - need to change our thinking in any way as a result of 1,2,3? (4.1) How does this affect substitutions (as a small subset of the overall picture)? In basic terms this is the dilemma: Norwich were horribly exposed at the top level. Being brave, ‘going for it’, flooding forward, scoring lots of goals to win games, high volume wins, individual brilliance... were all over-shadowed by ....lack of weaknesses in any position, structural solidity, high levels of diligent athleticism (particularly vid defensive space-covering), set-piece specialists, highly professional approaches (‘gamesmanship’), tactical fouls, deeply-drilled structural shapes, squad depth, strong game-management, responsibility to the collective in almost all players some good, weapon players on every side, et al. How does what we see in front of us now relate to the above and the overall picture? i. We are playing a much lower risk form of football ii. We are retaining elements of our fluid forward play where appropriate (early, nil-nil ‘probing period’ or when presented with highly deficient opposition structure) iii. Once ahead we are sucking the life out of teams - and the game itself - via possession, tempo control (sucking time out of the game, defusing moments when the opposition has any momentum, obtaining ‘easy’ fouls, not trying to advance out of shape..) iv. Chris Goreham is wrong and Farke is right. The game is not ‘close’ at 1-0. It may be ‘close’ at 0-0 (though we are often well ahead on ‘points’ even at this stage) though the ‘fear’ so commonly expressed is subjective and - particularly yesterday - bears little ressemblance to the amount of on-field strategic control we exert. V. Football is a low-scoring game. One goal - as every good Italian knows - is a massive advantage, a huge disruptor to the opposition. They have to change (unless they play very low rent, low-possession, keep-it-tight-hope-for-a-set-piece or bit-of-luck and cannot change..like Rotherham yesterday) and you do not. vi. Change is not generally good in football. You spend enormous amounts of time setting up your structure, tactical plan, personnel interactions, minutiae that the average fan would scarcely believe. Change thus becomes an inferior Plan B (or it would have been Plan A). Things can work in your favour - though ‘bringing on Big Crouchy when they’re tiring’ is a luxury most Championship clubs don’t have. If their ‘Crouchy’ was better, he’d start. vii. ‘Rotherham’s Crouchy’ doesn’t start because ‘when you’re attacking you are defending’ and ‘when you’re defending you are attacking’. Every piece and action is inter-connected and affects the whole. Few fans have the inside knowledge, data, direct experience, direct contact with the psychology of the players or deep understanding of how disparate parts contribute to the whole. Adding one things costs another, which diminishes another, augments a different piece, all of which suits one player , makes it harder for another, increases stress on one part of the system, strengthening another....but how does that relate to your resources, what the opposition resources are, what the variables of the day are (pitch, conditions, league position, momentum, current dressing-room psychology)? Viii. We are thus not trying to score at 1-0. We will will if a great opportunity presents itself, if someone does something strategically low-risk though brilliant, the opposition makes a mistake or the opposition breaks its own structure too much in trying to recover a goal. ix. When you are ahead you don’t need to change (nb: assuming - like us - that your game plan is superior, repeatedly troubling the opposition and making it notably more likely that you will score - or not obviously concede via an apparent weakness). It isn’t your problem. You might proactively counter a move the opposition is going to make (‘bringing on Crouchy’), though - as with yesterday - not if all that can be offered is more of the same. Why would you then change? The pattern of play is showing that you (remain) far more likely to score than the opposition. X. In this context subs become a tactical weapon - like a set piece - and are actually used to disrupt the opposition momentum, defuse the last 10 minutes (subs at ‘85 minutes’ as written may actually play for 15 minutes note), ‘steal’ time from the referees watch and re-inforce key spaces as opposition teams overload. xi. The actual quality of ‘chances’ we are conceding is generally very low. Fans are conditioned to fear narrow leads (in England) and thus hold their breath ‘Goreham-like’ every time the opposition crosses the half-way line because of ‘what might happen’ in their passionate, partisan minds. Professionals must resist such subjective fear and contextualise it clearly with the empirical evidence in front of them. We are preparing - bravely - for a higher level. This is not ‘putting the cart before the horse’ , it is necessary transitioning and re-inforces Farke’s (and others’) observation that free-scoring promoted teams may - occasionally - keep scoring at the top level and survive a (lucrative) year, though teams that generally establish over a mid-term period (and thus are able to structurally strengthen) have far better defensive structure, are able to ‘see out’ tight games and resist ‘fear marketing’ when they are ahead. Like any really good (and he is excellent) coach he is managing to elegantly tessellate the immediate objectives with organic, persistent progression towards a deeper growth objective. Thus you use current circumstances to create ‘set-pieces’ that point your charges towards the future. You are hardening your players to perform, act and decide as if they were playing at a (far) higher level. Which they will be. Parma
  16. 8 points
    yep absolutely mental isn’t it? Ill take Farkes commensense over anyone on here thanks
  17. 8 points
    "Thank you's" all round for the concerned comments above. I'm hardly ever ill and when you get symptoms during such a pandemic it must be easy to add two and two. I'm now fairly sure I do not have the virus. All checks I've made (save for a test result) indicate not. There are the three key symptoms and I've not had any of those. The throat and stomach are much better after a 24 hour period too. Mrs S was never convinced either! I may as well take the mickey out of myself!
  18. 8 points
    Andy Townsend can be added to those two, he wiped his Norwich career from memory very quickly.
  19. 8 points
    A great player with an even better attitude, he deserves a dream move in the summer.
  20. 8 points
    A genuine all rounder (and a bloody good one) which means that people without a football brain will never see why he's valuable. He doesn't play so many games for Farke and get capped by his country so frequently for no reason.
  21. 8 points
    I thought the same thing . Mitrovic goes down holding his face in the sort of agony that would see most of us in ICU for a fortnight , and it doesn’t get any kind of mention. Week In and week out we see it . when Emi got his red against Burnley it was no different . Football accepts this nonsense as part of the game .
  22. 8 points
  23. 8 points
    So another one of our youngsters has penned a long term contract with the club today. This time it's U18s defender Sean Stewart who has signed on for four years. There has been such a blizzard of announcements in the last few weeks that I've probably forgotten a few, but by my reckoning that's Jaden Warner, Joe Rose, Sam Blair, Sean Stewart, Tom Dickson-Peters, Tyrese Omotoye, Lewis Shipley, Abu Kamara, Jonathon Rowe and Andrew Omobamidele who have all signed long term contracts with the club in the last few weeks. There has never been a time when we have signed up so many youngsters on such long term contracts. The reality is of course that most of them won't make it with us, but some of them will and that's a thrilling prospect. Given that the post-Brexit transfer rules have made it a lot more difficult to sign promising young players from Europe it is vital that we produce as many home-grown players as possible. Once again Norwich City and Stuart Webber are ahead of the curve - I just love the way our club is run these days.
  24. 7 points
    Just had my jab, Pfizer for me! There were loads in the 50 category and a few younger I’d imagine with conditions, but certainly all ages being vaccinated in the centre here at Kirkley. Really well organised and a big thank you from me for all those involved.
  25. 7 points
    Nah, a couple of wins and Evans will give him another 5 years, he's playing a blinder
  26. 7 points
    People are aware that the Championship is fairly competitive right? Also the fact it wasn't our best performance, but away from home on a cabbage patch ground out what was a comfortable win in the end? Genuinely not sure what people expect, especially given the horrendous conditions tonight? We're never going to blow teams away every week, but Swansea aside, have never really looked like losing in recent games.
  27. 7 points
    Very good post, and a lot of valid points. I suspect the correct argument will only be borne out of the results of the season, and given how things are going so far, I think it's fair to accept there is a method in Farke's seeming madness. I also think his use of substitutions seems to have improved this season, as has been shown by the match-winning changes he made several times earlier on in the season. Ultimately, as a manager, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Had Farke brought someone on earlier and they struggled to adjust to the pace at a crucial time, or the cohesion of the squad had been upset so much that we ended up losing the game, he would have been smashed for it. Equally, he could have bought on Idah/Dowell earlier and we went on to win the game comfortably. Given that we had more than enough chances to win this and the Coventry game by a larger margin, yet still couldn't take our chances with probably our strongest 11, makes me doubt whether it's Farke's substitutions that are the reason for this. What does get my goat is when people act as if game management and substitutions is simple, and that Farke is an idiot who should just bring fresh legs on when things are getting a bit tight. I get that we are all fans, and some probably handle the pressure of a tight 1-0 game against Rotherham better than others, but I genuinely can't understand people who try and act as if it's basic stuff Farke is missing. There are, presumably, all other sorts of factors Farke is thinking about - squad cohesion, testing the key players within these pressure situations, match freshness and other things we are not privy to. Maybe, just maybe, given our current position in the table, is it not possible that Farke's "lack" of substitutions and determination to reduce rotation as much as possible are a major factor as to why we are where we are?! Anyway, I suspect none of us will ever be able to prove or disprove this one way or the other, but people pretending that because they have played a few seasons of Football Manager or watched Norwich for decades that this substitution malarkey is straightforward, easy and that he's "doing it wrong" is very silly IMO.
  28. 7 points
  29. 7 points
    Cantwell was superb tonight, back to his very best.
  30. 7 points
    I dont understand why posters on here think its Todd's responsibility to adjust his personal life on social media to cater for our thick fans who can't read, our bored fans who like to read into things because they've got nothing to do all day and our unsupportive fans who just like to criticise anything and everything Todd does.
  31. 7 points
    Well that's one in the eye for all those on this forum who were happy to hand the Championship trophy to Brentford during the week....with 18 games left....
  32. 7 points
    If Brentford rate him, sign him up. They are the best team in this division and will clearly storm the PL, probably winning it in their first season.
  33. 7 points
    What’s your view on streaming ?
  34. 7 points
    I can’t get my head round most brexiteers all being like Alf Garnett, Till Death Us Do Part! I mean if they bought into Farage...... Classic part of their script! Sums up our Brexiteers on here.... Alf Garnett: Well, I mean, see if we go into Europe... Else Garnett: I thought we was in Europe. I mean, I thought we always have been. Alf Garnett: I know that, yer silly moo. I'm not talking about that aspect am I? I'm talking about the Common Market aspect of the going into Europe. Alf Garnett: Old Enoch's against it, in't 'e, eh? He don't want no more bloody foreigners over here. We got enough bloody foreigners here as it is. Bloody country's swarming with E****s and Kr***ts and Fr****es and Spa*****es and Brussel Sprouts. All coming over here and taking our jobs off of us, aren't they? Else Garnett: Well, we can go over there and take the jobs off of them. Alf Garnett: I don't want to go over there, do I? Else Garnett: Wish you would.
  35. 7 points
  36. 7 points
    It’s just a sign of how amazing our coaching team have done over three years that teams have to resort to this approach of simply trying to stop us. That wasn’t the case when Farke and Webber came in. It wasn’t even the case two years ago. we’ve created a gulf in quality if play which means that teams have to do this to try to scrape a point. It’s a vindication of Farke’s methods, not a weakness of them,
  37. 7 points
    Normally I would agree but he's gone to some tinpot Italian club I for one have never heard of. I don't see how a semi-pro outfit or whatever it is based in a rundown Calabrian village could possibly be a bigger draw than the best team in East Anglia.
  38. 6 points
    Not really. The thing that is incredibly good about Teemu's game is his movement and his anticipation. As Emi took the shot he was already moving forward so that he would be in prime position to pick up any rebound from the keeper or the woodwork or any deflection from a block by a defender. If you watch Teemu closely you will see that this is something he does just about every time we have a shot from around the edge of the area. Most of the time the ball doesn't fall for him, but if it does he will be in the best possible position to take advantage from it. As Gary Lineker often says - As a striker you make a run 10 times. 9 times out of 10 it doesn't come to you and nobody notices, but you keep on doing it because the other time it does and you will be in a great position to score.
  39. 6 points
    Welcome to being a club with similar problems to a club like Ajax...Emi Buendia wasn’t a £20 million player when he came here, and neither was Todd Cantwell, or James Maddison.
  40. 6 points
    Apparently this new Ipswich beer is bitter but still goes down well. No cans or kegs though, they only bottle it.
  41. 6 points
    If the next five are as enjoyable as the previous 54 I'll be more than happy
  42. 6 points
    This was the day we found out what he was about. A lot of players would have gone quiet after that howler, just tried to keep it tight and just see out the game without any mistakes. He decided "farke that, I'm going down the other end and I'm making something good happen". Excellent movement to create a bit of space, and a cutback that was absolutely inch-perfect.
  43. 6 points
    The Infinite GameFT Magazine Norwich City Football Club Norwich City and the battle of football’s haves and have-nots Delia Smith’s ‘yo-yo club’ is playing the long game in a bid to compete with super-rich rivals At just 22, Todd Cantwell already has a head full of memories. A star midfielder at Norwich City, the football club he joined as a local lad more than a decade ago, he has emerged in recent years as one of the English game’s brighter talents. Slouched on a chair at the team’s training ground, Cantwell sits up when asked to name some of his standout moments to date. The recollections flow easily. In September 2019, for example, Norwich City faced Manchester City at their Carrow Road stadium. It should have been a mismatch. A team newly promoted to the Premier League, the world’s richest football competition, against the most expensively assembled side on earth. In the 28th minute, Cantwell watched his teammates complete a slick sequence of passes around those in City shirts. The ball landed at the feet of striker Teemu Pukki, who charged at goal. Cantwell began to run up the pitch. “It was a 50-yard sprint,” he tells me, blue eyes sparkling. “I was just energised by the thought of scoring, and in football that adrenaline takes over. I knew that if I got in his eye line, I knew Teemu would see me . . . to see the ball slide across and see the open net, you dream of stuff like that.” Cantwell scored, then danced in front of thousands of jubilant fans dressed in the team’s yellow and green colours. Norwich City went on to complete a famous 3-2 victory. I ask him to fast-forward to July 2020. Carrow Road had been emptied of supporters because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Few witnessed the team being thrashed 4-0 by West Ham United. It was the latest of many defeats in a gruelling season. Norwich City were relegated to the division below. Cantwell sat alone on the pitch long after the final whistle, frustrated, hurt. “We may not have been expected to stay up, no one here wanted to go down,” he says, quietly. “Everyone wants to play in the best league in the world.” Todd Cantwell Todd Cantwell scores against Manchester City early last season: ‘You dream of stuff like that’ © Getty Images These flashbacks help explain what makes elite football such a potent spectacle for millions around the world. Over 90 minutes, Norwich City, a side assembled on a shoestring player transfer budget, can beat Manchester City, bankrolled by an oil-rich Gulf state and, at the time, English champions. But over the course of a 38-match season, small miracles are consumed by cold facts. Academic research has shown the amount spent on player salaries is the best indicator of league position. Last season, Norwich City had the second-lowest wage bill in the top tier. I have come to Norwich City to speak with players such as Cantwell, as well as the club’s owners, executives and coaches, to better understand how the sport became a tale of haves versus have-nots. And to ask whether there is anything that can be done to close the gap between the game’s one-percenters and the rest. Never a big club, Norwich City hadn’t even played in the top flight of English football until 50 years ago. But through the 1970s and 1980s they established a seat at the top table, peaking in the early 1990s, when the “Canaries” beat Germany’s most successful club, Bayern Munich, in a famous European upset. Since the turn of the century, however, Norwich have enjoyed five promotions and suffered five relegations between the divisions. Too lean for the big league, too fat for the lower tiers, they are part of a group dismissively referred to as “yo-yo clubs”. Beating Bayern Munich in the second round of the UEFA Cup in 1993 Beating Bayern Munich, Germany’s most successful club, in the second round of the Uefa Cup in 1993 — a famous European upset © EMPICS Sport/PA Manchester City used to be one too, before a 2008 takeover by an Emirati sheikh turned them into regular title winners through spending more than £1bn on players. Takeovers like this have given fans of other clubs hopes of attracting their own sugar daddy, an extravagant billionaire willing to spend whatever it takes to acquire glory. Teams such as Chelsea and Leicester City are among the sides to have been transformed in recent years by the backing of benevolent benefactors. Yet this has helped to create instability at less wealthy clubs like Norwich City, which have had an unfortunate history of overspending on players, all in a forlorn effort to keep up with opponents’ unmatchable financial resources. Can the club do anything to snap the elastic that led it to bounce between the leagues? Over many hours of interviews, I am told of a new blueprint to avoid the club’s boom-and-bust cycles. It is a plan designed around unearthing more talents like Cantwell. The club’s ambition is simple yet strikingly sober: to become strong enough to avoid yet another relegation from the Premier League, should they return. That would allow them to play Manchester City every season, though they would be extremely unlikely to challenge them for the sport’s greatest prizes. Celebrating a win over Sunderland in the 1985 League Cup final Norwich players celebrate victory in the League Cup final at Wembley in 1985, when they became the first club to win a major trophy and suffer relegation in the same season © David Cannon/Allsport/Getty Images Is this enough? Many of today’s leading football clubs began as community institutions — Norwich City was formed in 1902 by two schoolmasters — each one as good as the locals who made up their teams. Over decades, the biggest have morphed into multibillion-pound businesses, international workforces and global fanbases. But the majority, like Norwich City, are still followed mainly in the smaller cities and towns in which they are based. Here, supporting a football club is part of a civic identity. The team’s successes — and failure — are a matter of personal esteem. “There’s part of me that just wants the club to go hell for leather, spend loads and win things,” says a consultant who has worked for Norwich City but declined to be named. The assumption here is that winning matches is the driving purpose of football clubs, victories the way it pays back fervent support. “How does football stay relevant to these small communities otherwise?” asks the consultant. “[Norwich City] has a great model and lots of good people, but the question I have is, what’s the purpose? What’s the point of a football club anyway?” Delia Smith is the doyenne of celebrity chefs, a fixture on British television since the 1970s with shows such as One Is Fun! and How to Cheat at Cooking. Despite retiring from the small screen in 2013, Smith, now 79, is still best known to the wider British public as a genial TV personality and cookbook writer, rather than the co-owner of Norwich City alongside her husband, the writer and publisher Michael Wynn-Jones. Delia Smith Delia Smith, doyenne of British celebrity chefs. . .  © Daniel Castro Garcia Michael Wynn-Jones  . . . and her husband, writer and publisher Michael Wynn-Jones. The couple have co-owned the club since the 1990s © Daniel Castro Garcia In 1995, Smith, who describes herself as a life-long fan, was approached by Norwich City’s directors at a time when the club was at risk of going bust. “‘Can you give us £500,000 for a seat on the board?’ they asked me,” she recalls. “I said, ‘Well, you can have a million pounds if you have [Wynn-Jones] on the board as well.’ That’s how it happened.” The couple entered the sport just as it was undergoing a revolution. Norwich City were a founder member of the Premier League in 1992, when the country’s top sides launched a breakaway from the rest of English club football, setting up a competition funded by Sky, then a new satellite broadcaster. “A small group of very canny, greedy chairmen hived themselves off and got the whole lot and left the rest of football struggling at grassroots level,” says Smith. “It was a sad day for football.” Overall revenues for Premier League clubs rose from £120m in 1992 to £5bn last season, according to the consultancy Deloitte. In that period, Norwich City’s annual revenue has risen from £4.6m to £119m, according to Companies House records. But it remains far behind England’s richest club, Manchester United, which made £627m last term. Most of the cash sloshing through the game is used to finance huge transfer deals and mega-wages for football’s superstars. “Player salaries basically got out of hand,” says Wynn-Jones, a gentle man who speaks barely above a whisper. “That really triggered [takeovers by] sheikhs and the like, because the clubs needed them.” Smith and Wynn-Jones are among the longest-serving club owners in English football, part of the old guard of supporters-turned-owners who seek emotional returns on their investment over financial ones. Elsewhere these have been replaced by an international cadre of club owners united by net worths — from Arab royals to Russian oligarchs, American moguls to Chinese entrepreneurs. Football is such an important thing for the nation. It’s one of the last vestiges of real community Delia Smith, co-owner Several “odd people” have approached Smith about a potential takeover of Norwich City over the years. One investor offered a nominal £1 to take a previously lossmaking club “off our hands”, she says. Another suitor planned to put it into administration to settle debts and cut costs. None was deemed to have the club’s best interests at heart. Smith and Wynn-Jones’s refusal to sell splits opinion among the local fan base. Some believe that, without heftier external funding, the club is being sold short. “You have an awful lot of Norwich fans who absolutely love Delia to death,” says Robin Sainty, chair of the Canaries Trust, a supporters group. “A small minority of people absolutely detest her, who think we should be selling out to an Arab multibillionaire or whatever. Then there are quite a lot in the middle who . . . appreciate what she’s done but think it would be quite nice to be a rich club.” Smith is aware of the strength of feeling. “One guy came up to me [and said], ‘You have dragged our club into the gutter, and would you mind going?’” However, she adds: “Football is such an important thing for the nation. It’s one of the last vestiges of real community where people really belong together. If you see kids at football matches, letting off steam, they’re not out in the streets . . . It’s really wonderful.” Smith and Wynn-Jones see their role as maintaining a local institution that has survived, just about, for more than a century. The club has often had “sticky moments” that have required Smith to go “up to Carrow Road with a cheque sometimes, because it’s got so bad”, and money remains a problem. In 2016, they overspent on players, again, in an effort to stay in the ­Premier League. They were relegated, again. That was the final straw. The owners espoused a new mantra of self-sufficiency, to live within meagre means. But how could Norwich City then fund a return to the Premier League? On a foggy December morning, I drive to the club’s training ground, hidden off a country road on the outskirts of the city. A year ago, the venue was made up of 49 Portakabins alongside a sloped pitch, which became waterlogged on one side during the winter. Gym equipment was housed in a conservatory with room for just four players at a time. Today, as part of an ongoing renovation, with £8m spent to date, there are swish buildings with wood-and-glass facades that evoke a posh barn renovation, as well as flat, manicured lawns for pitches. I’m greeted by Stuart Webber, the club’s sporting director. As he takes me on a tour, the 37-year-old Welshman greets staffers planting herb gardens and rose bushes. “Without going sort of spiritual or whatever,” says Webber, a man with intense eyes and a tell-it-as-it-is manner, “people feel good when they have colour and freshness around them.” Stuart Webber, sporting director Norwich FC’s sporting director Stuart Webber  © Daniel Castro Garcia Zoe Ward, business and project director  Business and project director Zoe Ward © Daniel Castro Garcia Webber was introduced to Norwich City’s owners by his wife, Zoe Ward, the club’s business and project director, who was hired in 2015 to help tackle the club’s financial troubles. He began his career as a youth coach at Wrexham, before moving to bigger clubs including Liverpool (where he met Ward in 2010). Appointed head of football operations at Huddersfield Town in 2015, he helped guide them to the top tier for the first time since 1972. In 2017 Norwich City’s owners hired Webber. Alongside Ward, he recommended upgrading training facilities rather than spending more on players. This explains why the club is acquiring a futuristic new machine: the SoccerBot360. Created in Germany, it allows players to control a ball on a small turf pitch, surrounded by a wall of video screens that replicate the sensation of having a blur of teammates and opponents around them. In any match, players are forced to make hundreds of snap decisions about when and where to pass and shoot. The idea is they will make faster and better decisions in a real game if they have already seen it thousands of times within the SoccerBot. Set to be built next year at the training ground at a cost of around £750,000, the facility will be the first of its kind in England. Recommended Life & Arts Simon Kuper on why football matters However, if the goal is to reach the Premier League next season, surely the club needs to spend on players who could advance the team right away, rather than many years in the future? To answer, Webber refers to a book by British-American organisational guru Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game. Relying on research based on mathematical game theory, the writer suggests that in any competition there are two types of “game”. Some are “finite”, like a football match, where there are “known players, defined rules, and an agreed upon objective”. The team that scores most goals over 90 minutes wins. But there are also “infinite games”, where the players and rules keep changing, and the objective is “merely to stay in the game as long as possible”. Sinek reckons too many organisations fail to understand which game they are playing. In a 2018 presentation, he said that, in the Vietnam war, “the Americans were trying to ‘beat’ the North Vietnamese, while the North Vietnamese were fighting for their lives, and invariably, a different set of strategic choices was made . . . The United States . . . ran out of the will or the resources to play. They didn’t lose, they dropped out of the game.” For Webber, the objective of a team, winning matches, is different from that of a club. “Football’s an infinite game,” he says. “So when some people say, ‘Why are you spending £2m on a gym? Spend it on a striker, you have more chance of winning next week,’ well, yeah, you probably have. But this team will be here for ever. [Practice facilities will] train more strikers than £2m can buy you. In 15 years, you will look back and think: we brought 30 players through here.” A £20m player would be like a Ferrari in a Vauxhall garage. We’ve got to make our Vauxhalls almost as good as a Ferrari Stuart Webber, sporting director This long-term mindset has influenced how the entire club plays the game. Under Webber’s direction, Norwich City’s academy players, starting from age seven up to 21, are instructed to play in the progressive, passing style demanded in the first team. Sainty of the Canaries Trust says this is one reason why most Norwich City fans accept the club’s frugal approach: “From a fan’s point of view, we love watching it.” The playing style was also devised with an eye on the bottom line. Youth teams are told to play with two forwards rather than one, doubling the chances of developing valuable goalscorers. “[Strikers]are like gold dust,” says Webber. “If we can create our own, over time that will then save us millions and millions of pounds.” Thrust into the first team, Norwich’s starlets have thrived under the new system, grabbing the attention of wealthier clubs. Since 2017, the club has recouped £79.5m in sales of young players. This includes James Maddison to Leicester City, Ben Godfrey to Everton and Jamal Lewis to Newcastle United. The money has helped balance the books. That doesn’t mean the entire team is for sale. Last summer, FC Barcelona, the world’s highest-earning football club, approached Norwich about acquiring Max Aarons, a highly rated 21-year-old defender. Teammates jokingly dubbed him “Dani Alves”, after the ex-Barcelona and Brazil great. Norwich refused to sell, believing Aarons was key to the club’s promotion push, which would earn an estimated £170m in Premier League revenue — a more valuable prize that would benefit the club for years to come. Max Aarons A dejected Max Aarons after a 4-0 home defeat by West Ham confirmed the club’s relegation last season © Alex Pantling/Getty Images Webber, though, understands players have personal ambitions that may not align with the club’s. So he sat down with Aarons before the start of this season, showing him statistics that ranked the player alongside English right-backs such as Manchester City’s Kyle Walker, Chelsea’s Reece James and Leicester’s James Justin. The numbers showed Aarons had played more minutes than his peers at the same stage of their careers. “I was quite a way ahead of all the other right-backs when they were my age,” says Aarons. Webber’s argument to Aarons was that, by playing frequently at Norwich City, he was on track to become an even better player before, perhaps inevitably, he moves on to a bigger challenge. Aarons says analysis shows that his ball retention and chance creation have “gone up loads” over the past two seasons. “I’m a lot more composed,” the player says. “I don’t make rash decisions.” Head coach Daniel Farke Head coach Daniel Farke has led Norwich to promotion and relegation since taking charge of the team in 2017 © Daniel Castro Garcia Todd Cantwell Midfielder Todd Cantwell has emerged as one of the club’s key talents. ‘Everyone wants to play in the best league in the world’ © Daniel Castro Garcia In a small, sparse office that contains little more than a shelf full of “Manager of the Month” awards, I meet Daniel Farke, the club’s first team coach. We speak in the middle of the day, soon after he has concluded a “light” training session with players before an important match that evening. “[The players] are up in the morning and have proper breakfast and lunch,” he explains. “You don’t have to do this with the older players, who are a bit more experienced, who have families. But a young person thinks, ‘We’re playing at quarter past eight, so we can sleep till two and have a late night.’” A relative unknown in England before his arrival in 2017, Farke was sought out by Norwich for his excellent record leading Borussia Dortmund’s under-23 team in his native Germany. Even though the Canaries managed only a measly five Premier League wins last season, the club retained Farke. The other relegated teams, Bournemouth and Watford, both replaced their head coaches in response to the failure. He says: “Everyone in this business recommended, ‘Listen, with this approach, without spending money, paying for the sins of the past, with such a young side where no one really has Premier League experience — if you don’t add quality, you have no chance.’” But he adds that within the club leadership he felt “unbelievable trust and loyalty” towards him because it was well understood that relegation had been a “realistic outcome”. Instead, the club’s demand is to instil a progressive playing style and develop young players above all else. That is a noble aim — but surely that will again leave the team as cannon fodder if they return to the top tier? Nineteen-year-old Josh Martin in action for Norwich against Nottingham Forest in December. The club has recouped £79.5m since 2017 on selling some of its best young talent © Daniel Castro Garcia Tucking his long hair behind his ears, Farke says, “You don’t work in this business just to achieve realistic targets. Otherwise, Real Madrid will win the Champions League title each and every year. Otherwise, I will never win the Premier League title.” But, he admits, the club’s approach is that the means matter as much as the ends. “It is not so much the goal,” says Farke. “It’s more the way.” Hours later, I watch Norwich City play Nottingham Forest, two-time European Cup winners who dropped out of the Premier League more than 20 years ago. Before the game at Carrow Road, I’m invited to dine with the club directors. Over succulent grilled fish and a dessert of chocolate cheesecake, Smith amuses guests by revealing that she likes to eat at McDonald’s before away matches. (Her preferred order is a Big Mac.) Wynn-Jones regales the table with memories of Norwich City’s former glories. The match is a contrast of styles. Norwich hog the ball, passing relentlessly. Forest defend deep, hoof the ball forward while their manager Chris Hughton screams from the sidelines: “Pass! Pass!” There is no lack of passion on the Norwich City side. In the second half and already a goal ahead, midfielder Emiliano Buendía concedes a free kick. “Why did you foul him?” shouts Farke. “It wasn’t a ****ing foul!” retorts Buendía. “**** off!” screams Farke. Following the free kick, Forest equalise and celebrate wildly, but a few minutes later another smart sequence of passes ends with Buendía scoring the winner. The result left the club top of the Championship table, on course for a swift return to the Premier League. Webber says that with less need to invest in infrastructure, the purse strings will be steadily loosened to acquire players, providing a better shot at staying in the top division for longer. Fans at the Nottingham Forest game Fans at Carrow Road for the Nottingham Forest game. ‘From a fan’s point of view, we love watching it,’ says one supporter of the team’s attractive playing style © Daniel Castro Garcia But the club’s humble culture will come first. “Even when the day comes to spend more money,” says Webber. “It might also not be the right thing for our club to put a £20m player in this dressing room. It would be like putting a Ferrari in a Vauxhall garage. It would look out of place. We’ve got to try and make all our Vauxhalls almost as good as a Ferrari.” Executives around the sport tell me they have watched the Norwich City model in admiration. But they argue that, ultimately, modern football runs an efficient market. The best players attract the highest price tag and are paid the most. The best teams win the most matches. That leaves the club with a dilemma. Leaders such as Webber and Farke and emerging stars like Aarons and Cantwell admit to ambitions of moving to the world’s biggest teams in the future. What are clubs like Norwich City to play for, if not the sport’s shiniest silverware? “It’s about that infinite game,” says Webber, who insists that the process of self-improvement is reward in itself. “Every decision has got to mean that this club is left in a better place than when we arrived.”
  44. 6 points
    Don't know what all the fuss is about. The defender's elbow is up at forehead height for no good reason and there is a connection. Has to be a red card by the book. As for pundits calling it out....they are the same pundits that often say "he was touched so he's entitled to go down"........go figure.....
  45. 6 points
    I wonder if Krull was thinking about Emi when he dropped the ball
  46. 6 points
    Given me an injection of confidence. Top, top manager. A pleasure to have him at our club.
  47. 6 points
    Vaccine booked for next Thursday. #relieved! I have to say credit where it's due, the Government appear to be keeping up with quotas. However, I reserve the real gratitude for the likes of Sarah Gilbert and her colleagues, the NHS and the thousands of good people volunteering, all true heroes in my eyes.
  48. 6 points
    That'll do, blow the full time whistle ref.
  49. 6 points
    We've just had two performances in a row where we've barely looked like troubling the opposition keeper, I don't think people being concerned is pant wetting. I honestly don't know what you expect from a fan forum after games like this- just 50 people posting 'oh well, we didn't play brilliantly but we're still top!' and then logging off?
  50. 6 points
    Had my first jab this morning, second in 11 weeks time, didn’t feel a thing. Six vaccinators on duty at Reydon Surgery, Southwold
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