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  1. 49 points
    Hi all, This is Wooster’s daughter. I’m not too sure if I’m posting this in the correct place but I know my Dad had some friends on here and I just wanted to let you all know of his sad passing on Sunday morning. It has been a shock to all of us as we hoped he would have many more years left. I just thought I should let you all know how much he enjoyed the forum and hearing from all of you. He’d always tell me of the fundraisers you’d do together and the laughs he had with you all. I know he’ll be celebrating Norwich’s win up there. All the best to you all
  2. 46 points
    Here's an idea: if you want to support a club owned by billionaires who pay ludicrous transfer fees and wages, why don't you bore off and support Man City (or just about any established Premier League club). I'm immensely proud to support a self-sufficient club who buck the trend. I'd be pretty devastated if we started spaffing money up the wall when we've worked so hard to recover from the last time we tried that. We're the envy of most clubs outside the Premier League and there are a fair few Championship clubs with far richer owners who would gladly trade places with us. We're arguably one of the best run clubs in the country. I can't fathom why some people don't understand or appreciate that.
  3. 37 points
    I arrived fairly early tonight and my old friend Roger Smith had already bagged a couple of seats in a nice position. Before proceedings began I had a nice chat with respected Pinkun poster Myra Hawtree, one of the very few who have been supporting this club longer than me. The surprise of the night was to see Mark Attanasio walk in with Delia, something I don't think any of us expected. We kicked off with the now customary slick video, nice but I don't know what it really adds. Then quickly got on with the formal business where all resolutions passed on a show of hands. Tom Smith was chairing tonight and I thought he did it in a very professional manner and later on handled a few slightly difficult moments quite well. On to the Q and A where the first question was obviously the rift between the club and the local media. Zoe explained how the arrangement worked in the past and how in her opinion the press had made unwarranted personal attacks on members of staff. The comparison of Dean Smith to rotting mushrooms was mentioned. There was a plea from the floor to the effect that the relationship needed to be healed which received affirmative applause. There was criticism of Stuart Webbers recruitment and the man himself had the courage to stand up and admit mistakes were his responsibility. He also explained the difficulty of recruiting established Premier players when we had to include a 60% wage reduction if we were relegated. I expect we all wished it were different but wishing won't make it so. The club are looking in to complaints about the new floodlights but the lumination is now controlled by what the broadcasters wanted rather than what suits spectators. However they hoped to make some changes. For those who want the ticket office to reopen for face to face purchases, hard luck, its not going to happen. Tom Smith explained that an expletitive email had been submitted by an unnamed person re the flying of the Pride flag. He rightly stated that the club were totally committed to equality and this again was received with affirmative applause. A question was then asked of Mark Attanasio. There were thanks for his 10 million quid but reservations re the conditions which could see him getting his money back with interest if things didn't go as planned. I was quite impressed with his fullsome relpy and his statement that he was not here to take advantage of the club and supporters. Only time will tell us how this works out. There were questions on fan engagement, betting companies as sponsors, season ticket prices etc and my friend Roger Smith asked the same question he did 20 years ago when we were all hoping for stadium enlargement. Apparantly there is still nothing concrete but the same firm of architects that did Liverpools enlargement are reporting on the feasibility of building over the top of the present main stand. I still expect that I will be long dead before this comes to pass. Stuart Webber said a few words about his close relationship with Daniel Farke and explained why he felt we needed to go in a different direction. The intimation was that being pretty wasn't enough and that we would see a tougher approach from now on from the manager and players. Questions were asked as to why Dean Smith was not in attendance and Zoe had to be corrected that this was not normal practice. To my recollection the manager has always been there to field football related questions, certainly since AGM's have been held in the Norfolk Lounge. Finally there was another plea for peace with the local press from another old guy who used to read the EDP in the outside bog with a candle. Thats about all I can remember.
  4. 37 points
    Parma’s State of the Nation Farke brought us a precise, carefully-constructed philosophy, using intelligent positional play, Dortmund-esque fan engagement, attractive sporting entertainment, though clear top level failure. Webber - it must be assumed - also implemented this very particular methodology throughout the youth ages. Planning purchases based on that particular style (Or?). Delia - though passionate, loyal and committed - has no ‘football money’, so the self-sustaining model is a top down necessity, as shown by the £5m fan Bond to build the training ground (via the Tifosys finance model). Promotion to premier duly puts Webber in a difficult position: Do we accept the glass ceiling of our model or blame Farke? The external questions were clear: Were the new players good enough for now? Were they investment purchases to appreciate at some future date? The idea - surely - is that as you develop, the risk on buying youth is less, as you pay more, you buy experienced youth playing at higher levels already. Vid Tzolis, Sargent. You try to get a weapon. Vid Rashica (really?). The ‘Pissed up window wall’ window had Klose (longevity, good quality, value), Pinto (longevity, fair quality, value), Naismith (expensive here-and-now investment, Sat on contract, nightmare -£15m), Maddison +£18m, Godfrey +£20m), so an overall window balance of say +£20m? Did we do better than this under the new model? The top level is where we are judged, where our aims are focused as per our attractively-presented 2022 Report. Trotsdem , top level failure occurred despite implanting an excellent, attractive, coherent playing philosophy. Record points totals had been achieved, there was a clear identity, followed by a high spend on new players. The Sporting Director had had plenty of preparation time and a free operational hand. Including with the limited ring-fenced chequebook. Farke (despite recently-signed 4 year contract) was summarily replaced by Smith, who was suddenly available, opportunistically persuaded, so not pre-planned. Both parties fell into each others’ arms via timing. Webber - I think just about understandably - just could not accept that our structural ceiling (financial-operational-sporting) had been reached, plus the further implication that his big investment signings were not successful. He just couldn’t (be seen) to accept either at that point. However history shows that within the parameters of owner finance this was-is as good as we can expect (particularly after first Premier season failure, which was ‘taking the money, to come back stronger next time’) Thus the glass Norwich ceiling was concretised. No further dreaming was possible. Everything that could have been done, was done. Mistakes were perhaps the inevitable product of imperfect financial and sporting compromises. QED Attanasio? Or an acceleration-expansion of his involvement? Nevertheless Sportingly Smith replacing Farke looks like correcting yesterday’s mistakes. Thus everything is a step behind where it should be. Smith immediately tried to solidify an exposed defence, the over-committed midfielders (particularly out of possession). A desire to counter-press effectively, stay-in-shape, not be so vulnerable on transition. The flaw with this approach - which has been endorsed also by the Sporting Director whose *new* vision now also ‘aligns’ - is that the Premier League and the Championship are fundamentally, dramatically, operationally so different from each other. And for very good reason. At the top level you are one of the worst, so you have to defend a lot, so you come under lots of pressure and you lose a lot. So you must be pretty good at defending or have awkward weapons that others have to adjust for. In the second tier you are not punished much for your mistakes (relatively), you don’t need to set up to defend, lots of teams are hard-working but lack quality. And no one has any weapons (really). So you don’t need to defend so much or so well. Farke also knew the above perfectly well. What he did was no accident. As Guardiola has repeatedly stated (including in writing if you read his books), positional play is actually a defensive tool. If you keep possession and ‘do nothing with it’, no one else has it either do they? Passing it backwards and sideways for 90 minutes is a bloody good idea against most top level teams (nil-nil is better than you will do in about 25 games). Of course upon demotion, very few teams can live with positional play. It takes high intelligence and it requires a level of coordinated press and defensive shape to combat, that few teams in the championship have enough players of sufficient intelligence to achieve. So we now have a a pragmatic mercenary journeyman manager that might suit a top level team destined to defend every week and be attritional, with a structure that is hard to break down and shouldn’t get hammered every week (I appreciate that we are not seeing this, though it is-was the intention I believe). The problem is that we are solving yesterday’s problems again. We don’t need to ask the players - say Cantwell - to counter press like marines. You need this at the top level. There are limits to professional footballers (at our level). They cannot chase defensive shape chickens like Gary Holt, then magically make through passes like Buendia a second later. The very, very best can do this (sometimes). We cannot buy them. So we end up neither fish, nor fowl. The irony is that many accused Farke of doing something that needed top level players only. He proved many of you wrong. With coaching, teaching, studying of positional play principles, it spread through the club. It became second nature to many. I would suggest that what Smith is asking for is more geared towards top level players only. Be a machine out of possession, switch to Litmanen cool upon turnover. We’d all love to think we can do that, though try sprinting flat out for 200 metres, then beating the computer at Chess. It’s not really how the brain and body typically operates. Hence we often look disjointed, erratic and play in fits-and-starts. Farke chose a certain compromise. Smith is trying to pretend that no such compromises are necessary. That we can have all things. Furthermore both he and a Webber appear to think that we need ‘to be prepared for the Premier’ in the way we play now. In our current circumstances. I think that this is fundamentally flawed. We need to jump the Championship hurdle - whereby you can attack teams, be expansive and overwhelm opposition if you have Pukki and players who can score regularly - first. This methodology is then proved (within our parameters) not to come close to working at the top level. At which point you need different tactics, a far more mechanical, low-risk, high running, high physicality, couple of expensive and strategically-protected weapons (which is where you spend all your available money). However there is even a further flaw. None of our players would be good enough for the top level anyway (except Pukki who’ll leave shortly anyway). We couldn’t invest enough to buy what we’d need to reframe the squad make up and approach anyway (which would also require a coaching-sporting pivot). So we return to our nexus points. Our sale of Buendia, our sacking of Farke, our huge relative investments strategically in Rashica-Tzolis-Sargent. Our style pivot to a prosaic Smith-headed philosophy - even in the second tier (and is it now through the age groups? Does-can anyone teach positional play anymore?) As fans what do we have? Identity no. Entertainment not really. Continuity not obviously. Clarity of corporate future not yet. Dreams of top level success extinguished. Unique Fan led club no longer. Money no. Investment purchases unnrealised and seemingly mostly unrealisable. Large swathes of too-good-for-Championship yesterday’s men out of contract. A huge pivot on unproven new players that have not obviously improved anything. A much smaller, cheaper squad by necessity-design. We are chasing a chimera. Even success is just expensive and embarrassing. Though in its stead we are drifting into that awful, anonymous, disinterested purgatory of mid-table second tier quicksand. The ‘camels coming down Carrow Road’ were previously dismissed, now the Cowboys are embraced. Despite the planning, sporting strategy and legions of forecasters, it all starts to look a little ‘events dear boy, events’. Parma
  5. 37 points
    Thanks for all the great memories. Some of the best and most exciting times supporting Norwich City and some of the best football I've seen us play. Always a gentleman and a fantastic ambassador for the club. Wishing you all the very best for wherever your career takes you next.
  6. 34 points
    Sorry folks, I posted my report at 11pm last night but it got eaten by the 502 Gateway problem and is lost somewhere in the ether. Suffice to say it was a wonderful night of raw emotion. We have only ever clinched promotion in a home match once before. In 1960 I stood in the old Barclay stand with my dear old dad. Last night i was at the other end of the ground with my son. Neat bookends to a lifetime of supporting our beloved club. At the end I didn't want to leave the ground and watching the players on their lap of honour I couldn't help but think of what a wonderful roller coaster ride its been, so many ups and downs, despair and elation in fairly equal measure. What a time to have been alive and experienced it all, I am indeed blessed. What a night, what a team and what a very special club we support. On the ball City, never mind the danger. Hopefully more to come next year if I'm still in the land of the living
  7. 32 points
    Can I just put out there how good Sorensen was today. This fella has been dropped into the team when we have been in dire need and has never let us down. Today he looked like he'd been playing there all season.Can't praise him enough and deserves a decent run of games I reckon.
  8. 32 points
    In the past I've been so hoping for a long term manager to emerge, the likes of a John Bond for instance - or Ferguson/Wenger - as it would match the values of the club so well. I thought Lambert could be that man, then Hughton, then Neil - all of whom didn't stay for varying reasons, but with Farke I thought we had finally got that man. Someone who we could ride the roller coaster with for many years and when he was given a four year contract, I really thought that it was going to happen. I understand the pressure of the PL and the need to try and stay there, but this has been a bit more of an emotional shock. DF has been brilliant for our club - and imo could have been again - and today may have been the start of that, which was partly why I was so pleased for him and the team today. It seemed like a psychological corner had been turned. But now? I really don't know, but it seems a decision based on lost nerve rather than anything logical. A step back, imo....the world does turn, but it doesn't feel like it at the moment!! It seems like it started turning today for the club when the team won and then it stopped the moment the sacking was announced. I guess it will start again, but as far as the football is concerned, I don't think it will ever be the same again - Farke was the soul of the team, not Webber or DS/MJW and I doubt if that can easily be replaced. We may get a good manager in, we may even stay up, but a little bit of magic left the club today.
  9. 32 points
    Mrs Ricardo said "don't forget your lights", as we biked off down to CR this evening to run the rule over some of the new boys. Lucas Rupp was the only survivor from Saturdays debacle so I surmised it might be a bit of a "getting to know you" game. As I was soon to discover, it was anything but, and from the off everything looked nicely in synch. There was little of note in the opening exchanges with Sargent bustling clear on the right to win a corner while at the other end a long ball from the left went right across the City six yard box without anyone getting a touch. However we didn't have long to wait for some real action as on 12 minutes McLean floated a long pass into space for Tzolis to run on to and the Greek lad was cool as a cucumber, taking the ball in his stride and guiding it past the keeper with the help of a slight deflection. I have found over the years that it really doesn't take long to see if a young player has got what it takes and although I don't want to go over the top with Tzolis, anyone who couldn't see what I saw tonight is really wasting their time watching football. We were treated to it again on 25 minutes when his speed of thought and action found time for Dowell to set up Kenny McLean to thrash a twenty yarder just inside Nyland's left post. Bournemouth had dominated possession but never really got within striking range as City picked them apart with some deft passes. Tzolis was panicking the visitors defence by looking to run off the defenders shoulder everytime City came forward and it was no surpise just after the half hour when his sharp cross found Rupp on the penalty spot to slam a in a third with the keeper helpless. I don't want it to sound like a one man show because there were excellent contributions from Dowell and Sargent, while at the back Mumba, Zimbo, Williams and Omobamidelle were solid and seldom under any pressure and Sorenson was calmness itself in the centre of the park. However the real buzz came when the ball reached Tzolis, he just seemed capable of making things happen. I posted on the Pinkun thread at half time about his speed, balance and control, its hard to put into words but to me he just looks every inch a footballer. Wow! whoever scouted him should get a big Xmas bonus. I wondered if the second half would live up to it but if anything City whipped the ball about even quicker and we were treated to some really good stuff. Dowell picked up a stray pass 30 yards out and his cute ball left Tzolis with a run on goal. Nyland managed to get a hand on it but Sargent was on hand to tuck in the deflection to get his own scoreboard up and running. Fifteen minutes later the big strker returned the favour by winning the ball on the edge of the Bournemouth area and sliding a low ball across for Tzolis to ram in his second of the night. With a quarter of an hour to go nobody would have blamed Tzolis for going for his hat trick when bursting through on the left but he unselfishly fed Sargent who bundled home the sixth goal of the night. He might well have got his third but the next time he burst away he was just off target. Hmm, human after all. Gianoullis, Idah and Gilmour all had little cameo's but I can really only talk about one man tonight. As my son remarked as we were leaving, "wherever did the find him for that price"? Oh where indeed. I got wet on the ride back but it was well worth a soaking to witness that.
  10. 31 points
    Where did it all go wrong Daniel, Stuart, Delia? I had a client who - aside from other things - was a leading National risk assessor for Health & Safety accidents at work. When thinking about apportioning blame for any perceived failure, I often think about his firmly-held belief - borne of repeated experience - that major failures are almost always the consequence of a string of (he would say predominantly-avoidable) smaller errors occurring in collective sequence. These errors can be broken down into the strategic, the operational-systemic and the individual. The overriding driver for assessment is learning and structural improvement where necessary. Much as it is with Norwich. In the immediate aftermath of failure, my client would consider it highly unwise to leap to find fast answers and apportion useful blame. It is something of a human instinct, though it is a poor substitute for slower, more considered thinking. Norwich don’t have enough money to compete on an equal footing at this level. This is undoubtedly a massive hindrance and defines a number of macro imperatives that drive subsequent sporting decisions. Let’s start with the obvious. There are few Norwich fans who would argue against the statement that Buendia was our best player last year and that Skipp was our most important. Buendia for pure ability to hurt the opposition and affect games, week in, week out. He cannot be ignored strategically by the opposition, they have to change their own preferred plans to adjust to his very presence. Coaching definition: a weapon. Skipp naturally played the exact way that offered a key counterpoint to the way Farke likes to play and set up his sides. He instinctively acted as a third centre back when necessary, didn’t get sucked forward or out of shape when we were on top, smelt danger before it arrives and was fast into the fire at its outbreak. If he was not priceless to us, his role was. If not him, then someone had to bought to do that exact job. It is even more important at the top level. This is not hindsight, it was pretty clear to the vast majority of Norwich fans who watch their team regularly. Let us now shoot a canard or two to move the discussion forward. It is unheard of to sell your best player and major weapon upon promotion. Unheard of. The timing of it is extraordinary. It was a huge gamble and - slightly - smells of a compulsive need-belief in ‘doing differently’ to the point where you try to reinvent the wheel in evangelical belief. Norwich did not have to sell Buendia. There have been thousands of footballers who pitched for a move, who got their agent to get spiky, who leaked some ‘come-and-get-me’ pleas, a thousand gentleman’s agreements in football that weren’t worth the toilet paper they weren’t wiped on. Norwich were premier League. Buendia was under contract. Promotion was fresh. Norwich chose to sell Buendia. This goes to the heart of the issue, as it combines the weaknesses of lack of finance with sporting strategy. It is not retrospective wisdom to note that at the top level teams are full of powerful, capable squads who have the top level nous to minimise on-field strategic weakness (and force the best to be brilliant, week-in, week-out). Weaker teams face more pressure and thus weaker players make more individual mistakes. Is this then really errors of the individual or the inevitable odds of the wheel of fortune? Stuart Webber wisely stated that we would not try to compete with this, that we couldn’t, that we would focus on improving the first xi and not spread money around a vast squad of interchangeable (likely not-quite-as-good-as-everyone-else’s) players. Nevertheless the decision was made to sell Buendia - who not only a weapon in his own right, but also ensured that Pukki his compadre was at least half a weapon. That’s already good enough to trouble teams a bit. What has been bought are not weapons. They are good players. We are on average much better as a squad, yet conversely less dangerous to the opposition. There is the trade. It seems at odds with the early-in-pre-season statement. Daniel Farke can pick two good teams every week, though not an eleven that can trouble the opposition. This looks like an expensive mis-calculation. There may be a necessary asset investment angle to this. A Tzolis, a Sargent, a Rashica can flourish and suddenly be a valuable asset. They may stay and thrive in the Championship. This strategy may be a product of lack of finance. It would be hard to argue that it doesn’t sacrifice the here-and-now though. The painful truth may be that Daniel, Stuart and Delia have all done as well as they can with what they have. Demanding change now may be missing the point. Daniel may be wedded to a dominant footballing philosophy that flourishes exclusively against the weaker. Stuart may have ‘done different’ one too many times and succumbed to the - often wonderful - religious fervour of a new Messiah. Delia may be right to rail against the dreadful capitalism of the whole thing….but…. …Maths is a terrible adversary however and all the numbers are against us with what we have. Unpicking the stitching in the dugout changes little if the over-arching fundamentals remain the same. Farke may be the lightning rod, Webber may seek pastures new and trade off well-earned previous glories, Delia may cling on with an ever-tighter grip like Miss Haversham in the crumbling manor…but what then? Does the cycle repeat….the wonderful, awful pain and joy of yo-yo greatness and awfulness? The railing against Murdoch’s millions while gobbling it up so it can be dribbled away to pay for the inevitable annual millions lost in the Championship? Farke has an array of good players, though he has no weapons. Even Pukki is emasculated without Buendia. Of course when you have one or two weapons you are dependent. Of course you are one injury away from a real issue. Though even that wily old warhorse Steve Bruce - no-ones favourite for favourite manager of the year - essentially builds a solid, effective team then ‘gives the ball to the lad Saint-Maximin’ while the others players sit tight, watch and applaud. It is an effective strategy for the job at hand. Newcastle stay up comfortably (also not enough for fans of course, one must ever move forwards..such is top level sport). Unless you are a truly wealthy, incredible team you cannot hold many weapons for long though. Though the magpies do keep Saint-Maximin, Spurs do not sell Kane and nobody - but nobody - sells such a weapon at the point of promotion. Norwich are hamstrung by their ownership model. Self-sustaining to an absolutist degree is an extraordinary strategy in football. There is no money. Self-sustaining is not a philosophy or a laudable guiding principle, it is borne of necessity. Everything - selling Buendia included - flows from there. Unless Delia gives the shares away or bequeathes them to a group or individual, then they must be bought. They do have a value. Let us say that the club is worth £100m. To buy 65% of the club, an investor, new benefactor, lottery winner must spend £65m on a nameplate. Before anything else happens. £65m spent and not a single loan left back added yet. No wonder there ‘is no queue of investors lining Carrow Road’. So this is it. This is where the maths ends up and the road we tread again. Farke is a red herring. Sacking the manager changes nothing. I’m not even sure that 2 or 3 ardent fans would agree on what our best xi is, what shape it should be, where our best weapons are. I’m afraid simply railing that ‘we should get after them more’….or ‘we don’t go at teams from the off’ … or ..’we need to want it more’ is pointless, worthless nonsense. We have spent Buendia on a lot of players who are better than we had before and a lot less not-as-good-as-everyone-else’s. Though we don’t have anything now to really hurt teams tactically with. ‘Both boxes’ as the old boys used to say. Our failure is a cascading collection of small weaknesses and inter-connecting sticking plasters to cover the gaping wound of lack of finance. All of it is understandable. If we really want to ‘do different’ it is time to reach out to the SME world, to the Tifosys trading ground bond supporters, small investors, loyal individuals and create a genuinely inclusive French-Shared-Mortgage model whereby the small slices of ownership fluctuate according to investment size at any given moment. Whereby any small (vetted) investor gets a marketing share of brand usage, whereby the community and collective spirit is honourably leveraged to create a membership-style model that would truly be a fitting legacy to Delia’s wonderful era. She herself could and should be a major part going forwards. Like it or not, intended or not, the club has become a massively appreciated asset. It’s value has increased maybe tenfold from the very welcome, though contextually small investment of (anecdotally) £10m or less. The majority of the £100m is now Delia’s. She can hand it down to Tom. He can keep it or cash it in. Maybe it is a theoretical £100m that never sees the light of day. If you ask for that money from an investor, I would be reasonably sure it would never materialise. The ‘doors are open’ offer to sell is thus a somewhat theoretical one. It also would have no benefit to Norwich City. Not a pound would enter the club from such a share sale. Something of a circular reference self-fulfilling prophecy then…. ..and so we have 20 odd good players and no Buendia. Nor any Skipp. Nor any points. Not really an accident at all. Parma
  11. 31 points
    I think above all, he has earned the move. No moaning, threats to down tools, demands to leave like Todd and Buendia - he's consistently given his all to this club. If this is his last season in yellow and green, he should be applauded out the door by all fans of this club.
  12. 29 points
    There are a lot of threads of minimal substance calling for Smith to go, but very little in the way of reasoning and analysis to support the view. That's disappointing given the wealth of evidence we have to backup the assertion that he simply isn't getting enough out of the players. For me there is a fundamental point which highlights the failure of Dean Smith's tenure. The overriding narrative of his appointment has been that he is supposed to be making us better equipped for Premier League survival. Indeed, the criticism of Farke was that he couldn't get results in the top flight. These fixtures against the better teams in the Championship are the perfect yardstick with which to measure our progress. Your Watfords, Burnleys and Sheffield Utds represent the easiest of Premier League opposition. If we did (somehow) go up then these are the teams we'll need to beat to survive. Yet here we are. Barely able to get a foot on the ball. Backs against the wall, hoofing it clear over and over again. There's been no tangible progress. Just a dogmatic adherence to the flawed 4-3-3 despite its obvious shortcomings. Repeatedly trying the same thing and getting the same results. So what has Smith brought to the club? How have we progressed? I see occasional glimmers of what the plan might be, but then I see huge holes on our flanks with runners unmarked as they arrive in our box, time and time again. Is the hope really to just pump the ball forwards and hope that Pukki can make something happen? Just 18 months ago we were playing the best football I've ever seen from Norwich. It was beautiful to watch. Now we're a shadow of that team. Worst of all, Burnley are showing us exactly how it should be done. Passing, movement, intensity, perseverance. Things we only see in brief spells. And two of our best players in Pukki and Cantwell are out of contract in the summer. This is very much the end of an era. Sacking Farke looks worse by the week. And before you trott out that line about the same people calling for Farke's sacking now wanting him back... No, that's b@llocks. Lots of us - those with a sense of perspective - never wanted him to go. And we were bloody right!
  13. 28 points
    By popular demand....well by one person anyway..... Just got back from the match and not read anything on here and couldn't listen to canary call, so all I've seen or heard was a rather shabby BBC report on Radio 5 that declared Burnley had chances to win the match, which implied that we didn't, which is a travesty of the situation. My thoughts? As a performance I thought it was gutsy, feisty, hard fought, passionate, at times exciting and we could and maybe should have scored. Totally deserved the point and the fans loved it with the relief of finally getting a point and seeing a really good performance. So good performances all over the pitch, Normann, Kabak and Gianoulis caught the eye particularly - and Rashica when he came on when he gave their left back a torrid time. You could see Sargent gives absolutely 100% too and was a handful and good at pressing and tracking back. Late in the second half Kabak and Sargent both had gutsy runs which really lifted the fans and showed intent - and there were two good shots from Aarons and Lees-Melou in the first half. Normann was excellent, drawing a good save from the Burnely goalie and he hit the bar with a cross shot - he looks a real player. If you compared this game to two years ago when were bullied to a 2-0 loss, this was quite the opposite. We were well up to the physical challenge today, which was really good to see. No bullying by Burnley then - we simply met them head on - and overall it was a good lively 0-0. There were faults, of course, too many misplaced passes still, looked a bit nervy passing around at the back - but we had a safety first policy in place where Krul quite often kicked long, so mixing it up a bit, which I thought was good practice and made us a bit less predictable at the back - Burnley could not afford to press too much as a result. Their penalty shouts were dealt with well by the ref - there was one that might have been given had their player not been running away from the goal at the time, but overall the decisions looked fair for both teams and the ref looked to me as if he was trying to let the game flow. Farke summed it up at the end when he came over to our cheering fans with his hand over his heart. It was that kind of game and we did very well under the circumstances of having no points and with confidence low, to battle and give as good as we got - and with a bit of luck migt have even got all three points. I've probably missed out some important stuff, but being my first match for quite some time, I enjoyed every minute of it - the team turned up and gave us the performance we wanted to see - and the fans were brilliant too. We're up and running! OTBC
  14. 28 points
    What the **** is wrong with you idiots? The day before the season starts and we're putting down our players with this sort of ****ing nonsense? Un-****ing-believable.
  15. 28 points
    Hi chaps Im a season ticket holder at Leicester and felt that you guys needed some praise today. Naturally im disappointed we didnt win considering our form and your league position (no disrespect) but we didn't do enough to win and more importantly i was really surprised/impressed with Norwich. That's the poorest we've played at home this season and these sorts of games happen but take nothing away from Norwich Defensively superb, particularly the full backs Aarons and byram, not to mention being very creative going forward. You guys always looked dangerous and have some talent in the attacking area's. Pukki constantly a threat plus really like Cantwell, quality player. Ive 100% seen a number of worse sides than you guys this season and playing like that you'll stay up for sure. Great support and i really like farke. Massively hope you do stay up
  16. 27 points
    Hope he gets the credit he deserves. Energy, fight and great passing. Totally changed the game.
  17. 27 points
  18. 26 points
    Villa fan in peace- I honestly think Deano is getting a bad rap on here and people not actually realising what a good job he has done throughout his career. So stick with me- I'll try and settle your minds a bit on it. Smith had his coaching education as assistant to Martin Ling at Leyton Orient before moving to Walsall as a Youth Coach. He took over as Caretaker Manager at Walsall before being given the Head Coach job. Remember this is Walsall, a club who sell their best players, never re-invest any money and solely rely on loans and free transfers. Under Smith, they were regularly challenging at the top of League 1, vying for promotion to the Championship. They were 2nd when he left for Brentford and they lost out in the play-offs to Barnsley in the end. Walsall have nosedived since and are just keeping their heads afloat in League 2. At Brentford he went in and took Brentford from a bottom half club to vying for the play-offs each and every season. Together with the smart recruitment strategy at Brentford, he developed so many players. Ollie Watkins was brought in from Exeter for pennies, sold for 30m. Benrahma another one. There are so many examples. He left Brentford for one reason and it was the Villa job, but he left them in a really healthy place for Thomas Frank, his assistant to continue the work done and fight for promotion, which eventually happened. He came into Villa which was an absolute sorry state at the time. Hours away from liquidation until our new owners came in and saved the day. Bruce with his backwards recruitment left us with one fit centre half and another playing with an injury which eventually cost him his Villa career (James Chester). Smith came in and instantly galvanised the place- yes you could say we had the likes of Grealish, Abraham and McGinn- top players at that level but Grealish was nothing like the Jack Grealish you think of today. He took him under his wing and took him on that journey to the player he is today. Without Smith, Grealish was nothing. We had a good run when he first came in, dipped a bit in the new year when Grealish was injured. Smith went about correcting the unbalanced side Bruce had left by loaning Mings & Hause in the January. Then from sitting in 13th, took us on a club record 10 game winning run which culminated in the play-off final at Wembley in the May, beating Frank Lampard's Derby. When he came in, the owners wanted promotion within a couple of seasons- Dean did it within 7 months. Whilst promotion was great, it left us some big problems. We lost 15 members of our playing staff due to contracts expiring or loans returning to their parent clubs. People will talk about how Villa spent £120m that summer but it was on 11 players at a average of 9m per player. And we had to do that as we literally had no squad- we had to somehow build a squad ready for whatever league we were playing in. Yes we were fortunate we had the backing of the very wealthy and ambitious owners, but even so, it was never going to be an easy task. We were okay until Christmas, keeping our heads above water. We struggled in the New Year, despite making it to the League Cup Final after beating Leicester over 2 legs in the Semi-Final. We were on a bad run which coincided with losing Heaton, McGinn and Wesley to long term injuries and COVID struck and probably saved our season and Dean's job. He was able to take stock over lockdown, came back and we had a much improved defence and ended the season with 4 matches unbeaten to stay up. Some will say hawk-eye kept us up, but worth remembering there were 9 and a half fixtures left following that incident- so much football still to play. And then that summer we replaced the Sporting Director, brought in some smart signings such as Watkins, Cash and Martinez, and tied Grealish down to a new deal. Had a strong first half of the season and everyone through Europe was on the cards. We stuttered somewhat, again coincided with injuries to Grealish, Barkley & Traore and finished 11th. The summer is where it kind of unraveled, Richard O'Kelly and John Terry both left for different reasons, leaving Smith a bit vulnerable. A couple of new coaches came in on the advice of the Sporting Director/Owners and it never seemed to click. Losing Grealish was massive, yes we took 100m but he was our talisman, he was Aston Villa and replacing him was going to be difficult. Again injuries have been rife- we still are yet to see Danny Ings, Buendia & Leon Bailey on the same pitch for more than 15 minutes together. We have had some flashes of brilliance this season, winning at Old Trafford and hammering Everton at Villa Park but overall it has not been great- but as I say there are various reasons for that happening. I was still convinced Smith would have turned it around, because he always does. Most of all, he is such a good man, a good footballing man. He is adaptable, understands he makes mistakes and works to put them right. He is a brilliant man manager who builds strong relationships with his players. The players were gutted when he left Villa last week. Predominantly plays a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 and will certainly get Gilmour & Cantwell in the team if he joins you guys. When it really works for Smith, it really works and the football can be a joy to watch. It's important he gets his right backroom team in. If he could bring O'Kelly and Shakespeare alongside him, you guys would be fine. He's not a sexy name but for where you guys are I genuinely think he is a perfect fit. He has experience of a relegation battle and if worst comes to the worst and you go down, he has extensive knowledge and experience of the Championship and you'd back him to get you straight back up. I hope he takes the job as the guy deserves it. Villa fans are so grateful to him, came in when we were floundering for a 3rd season in the Championship in 15th place- he leaves us as a regular fixture again in the Premier League, albeit going through a bad patch but with the tools to improve once again. Good luck for the rest of the season.
  19. 26 points
    Perhaps it was the excitement of being back or maybe just the relief of coming safely through a dark place but when I climbed the stairs behind the River End goal and gazed down upon a resplendant Carrow Road, I didn't think that I was alone in feeling a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. All around me, people were renewing old aquaintances but it was sad to learn that one or two old faces had fallen by the wayside. Happily for the great majority of us life goes on and face another season of trials and tribulations in the one love that unites all who share the faith of the Yellow and Green. Here in Norwich it had been a fine sunny morning but it clouded over about midday and by kick off time it was heavily overcast though still quite warm. The team was pretty much as expected with Hanley returning to the centre of defence and the new boys Raschica, Lees-Melou and Gilmour getting the nod. When City kicked off towards the Barclay End the crowd was as loud as I have ever heard it since the '59 cup run days when there were 38k giving it the full treatment. The early moments were encouraging with City confidently knocking the ball about and retaining possession for a long period but without looking threatening. Liverpool took a while to settle but Mane was looking very lively when getting in behind Max Aarons. By the tenth minute the visitors began to assert a measure of control in midfield and City conceeded a couple of corners as they gave ground. From the second, the ball was worked back in and Krul had to react quickly to palm Jota's header over the bar. City eventually clicked into gear when Rashica raced away on the left but his cross could find niether Pukki nor Cantwell. Play moved from end to end with neat interpassing from both sides although it was always obvious that the Reds carried the greater threat as Salah volleyed one a yard wide. Not to be outdone, Aarons slipped Pukki through in the righthand channel and his fierce shot was parried away for a corner by Alison. City kept the pressure on for a while but things came to nothing when the Liverpool keeper cut out Raschica's cross. It was now mainly Liverpool in the ascendancy as Salah again tested Krul with a stinging drive but again City came back when Cantwell pounced on a mistake and tried to catch Alison out withan outrageous lob from the right wing. The first goal was obviously going to be important and when it came there was more than a touch of good fortune about it. A ball in from the Liverpool right appeared to bounce off Salah and fall nicely between Hanley and Gibson for Jota to stroke the ball under Krul's despairing dive. It was a touch unlucky but Liverpool had certainly looked the more likely and for the next few minutes it was all hands to the pump to prevent the rampant visitors from extending the lead. Lees-Melou cleared from near the line as Van Djyk poked the ball goalwards and one or two last ditch tackles from Aarons and Hanley saved the day. City got through to the break without further damage but you could already see that getting anything out of this game was a fairly long shot. When we resumed, things continued in much the same vein with Liverpool bossing the centre of the pitch and Aarons had to be sharp to clear away Mane's effort with Krul beaten. Gilmour impressed with some good long range passes but despite periods of neat play the home attacks carried little in the way of a sharp edge. Just after the hour mark Firmino came on for Jota and as another City attack broke down a lovely flowing move stretched the home reaguard to breaking point as Salah set up Firmino for a tap in. It was all over bar the shouting when ten minutes later, Salah wrapped up the scoring with a rasping drive when City failed to clear. To their credit the home side refused to wilt and when Pukki and Raschica made way for Sargent and Idah, there were a couple of close things. Sargents late cross shot was only just wide of the far post and with four minutes left in an almighty scramble on the Liverpool six yard line neither Sargent nor Idah could force the ball past Alison before the big Liverpool keeper managed to claw it away. A disappointing result but make no mistake this is a top class Liverpool side and with Van Djyk back they are a force to be reckoned with. All the City new boys looked decent but will take time to bed in and will find much easier games than this as the season progresses. A nice range of passing from Gilmour and touches of exciting pace from Rashica give hope for the future and Josh Sargent showed enough in his short cameo to see that he has something about him. All things considered it was wonderful to be back at a full CR and I am not going to get too depressed at this result, there's still a long long way to go. Grant Hanley my MOM, played a real captains game.
  20. 25 points
    I nearly didn't make it today having strained a muscle during the week but I had a little practice on the bike and in the end decided to give it a go. Conditions were perfect for a decent game with hardly a breath of wind and with the visitors struggling for form I had the feeling it might be worth the effort. With Kenny on the sick list it was good to see Sorensen given a run out and with Sargent and Idah starting there was at least the prospect of some physical support fot Pukki. The opening minutes were quite encouraging with City having some good possession but it was mostly midfield stuff until PLM finally tested Pickford with a low shot that was comfortably saved. Gray was giving Aarons a problem down the Everton left but Krul had his angles covered when the shot came in from a narrow angle. There was plenty of strong running from Sargent and Idah and just after the quarter hour it paid off with City doing something they have found very difficult this season by taking the lead. Rashica carried the ball across the centre of the pitch and after interplay between Aarons and Sargent it was the latter who whipped a low cross in from the right that came off Keane and left Pickford stranded. I was almost tempted to take advantage of the stoppage to nip out for a wee but I'm glad I didn't because virtually from the restart Williams intercepted a through ball and set off into empty space down the City left. With defenders converging on him he played a superb low pass into the area for Idah to latch onto and poke the ball past the advancing Everton keeper for two nil. Eight goals in half a season then two in a minute, it was pandemonium at our end as the ball hit the back of the net. I was now thinking we needed to hold this until halftime and despite quite a bit of Everton pressure with corners and free kicks they managed the rest of the half with a certain degree of comfort as Tim Krul was rarely stretched into anything out of the ordinary. It was nice to have a halftime not filled with doom and gloom but although the visitors had rarely threatened, the City midfield had covered a lot of ground and expended a lot of energy in keeping things tight. I expected them to come at us as the second half began but it was the home side that almost struck another early blow. Idah earned a corner and when the ball was headed clear it fell nicely for PLM to volley from twenty yards. Unfortunately it was straight down the keepers throat. A minute later a poor everton back pass left Idah with only Pickford to beat but to the England keepers credit he was off his line like lightening and the chance came to nothing. The visitors were now having the bulk of possession and when Richarlison came on for Rondon on 55 minutes it added a touch of class and they began to look much more dangerous. On the hour a corner was headed clear but City couldn't complete the clearance and Richarlisons overhead kick gave Tim no chance. It was a different ball game now and it took a while for the crowd to whip up the noise and drive the boys on again. With lots of defending to do and some great blocks and tackles going in it was no surprise when first Williams and then Aarons had to limp off with what looked like leg injurues,. Thankfully both Byram and Giannoulis were able replacements as City fought hard to hold on to the lead as the minutes ticked away. Hanley was a rock in the middle as Everton banged the ball up to Richarlison and although many were now running on empty the City defence still managed to prevent the visitors from gaining a clear opening. There was an audible groan when seven minutes added time was signalled and I seemed to be checking my watch every fifteen seconds. There was some good running the ball into the corners from Idah and Pukki and the usual amount of Tim ****housery that did its job in winding up the visitors but in the final seconds it was City who had the big chance. Rashica broke clear on the halfway line and made tracks goalward. Teemu, whose legs had gone struggled to give an option down the middle but it was the winger who nearly went all the way as his low shot flicked off the outside of the post and out of play with Pickford beaten. Thankfully Andy Madely had seen enough and took mercy on those with weak tickers as the final whistle was greeted with rapture and relief. In many ways they might not be good enough but they fought until they dropped today and nobody can ask for more than that. Adam Idah my MOM, good goal, never stopped running and gave the front line a measure of physicality that has so often been missing this term. To be honest every man a hero today in a game that was on a knife edge. If you didn't get your moneys worth today you are never going to be satisfied. I shall be enjoying a small dram tonight.
  21. 25 points
    A very dull, damp and dark day here in Norwich and the lights were full on when I biked up to ground this afternoon. The team sheet with Cantwell and Gilmour was not much of a surprise as I had long thought that Farkes demise was as much do to personalities as to results. I expect we we all looking for some sort of new manager bounce today and at least some sign that we were good enough to compete in this league. Unfortunately we got a real slap in the face early on as the visitors cruised into a 3rd minute lead. A ball into the wide open spaces on the City right flank should have been cleared as it was worked into space for Adams to nudge the ball past Krul into the far corner. To their credit, City did liven up for a time and surprisingly got straight back in the picture in the seventh minute when Rashica combined nicely with Max Aarons and from the cut back Pukki was able to nip in at the corner of the six yard box and glance a perfect header in off McCarthy's near post. It got the crowd back on their feet with the expectation of more to come but we were to be cruelly disappointed as the visitors started to dictate proceedings to an almost embarrassing level. Both City flanks were wide open as wave after wave of red and white cut through the City rearguard forcing last gasp blocks and a succession of corners. City looked all at sea with little cohesion in midfield and nothing for the front runners to feed off. Thankfully Armstrong and Adams had forgotten their shooting boots as decent opportunities went begging and most of the on target stuff went straight at Tim Krul. It looked like just a matter of time before Southampton wrapped things up in such a one sided affair. I really needed binoculars because almost everything was happening a hundred yards away at the River End. By the half hour our penalty area was like a coconut shy andI was looking for a sofa to hide behind as yet another Southampton chance was skewed a yard wide. I have always liked Tod Cantwell but he was just not at the races at all today and bringing him back without match sharpness seemed to be a big mistake. The crowd got on his back after an error and that didn't help either. I was just praying that we could get to halftime without further damage and thanks to a magnificent save from Tim Krul we did. A sharp pass put Hanley in trouble and he lost possession to Diallo who had a free man either side of him. The ball was tee'd up for Adams and looked goal bound until Krul flew to his right to turn it away. Somehow we went in all square in what had been the most one sided affair I have seen at Carrow Rd for many a year. It looked like men against boys or two teams three leagues apart. City's goal was their only effort of the entire 45 minutes. Swapping Cantwell for Sargent was an easy choice and immediately you could see a difference. I don't know what Smith said to them at the break but it must have been along the lines of "show me if you are good enough" because the effect was instantaneous. City were quicker to the ball and the visitors seemed to wilt as the home side grew stronger. City began to dominate and at last corners were being won and shots were coming in. Rashica and Norman both tested McCarthy and it was Southampton who were having trouble to get any forward play going. The game was there to be won and Pukki almost did it when he scampered away on the right before bringing a flying save out of McCarthy at the near post, then a Normann twentfive yarder flew just over. On 79 minutes it was Rashica, who had been having a fine second half, won a corner on the City left, Gilmour trotted up to take it and the whole ground errupted as Hanley got on the end of his fighted ball at the far post. Ten or so minutes left and finally we were in front and had one hand on the three points. Saints pushed forward as City had to withstand some stiff pressure as the sand ran out of the hour glass and for the first time in a long while I was wishing the seconds to tick away. There was only one moment of real danger and that was right at the end when Walcott got on the end of a great cross but could only glance the ball a yard wide. I have seen a lot of strange games at CR over the years but I din't remeber anything like this afternoons tale of two halves. Chalk and cheese doesn't do it justice, it was like two entirely different games with the boys on in the first game and the men on in the second. We may still be not good enough in the end but it does give us something to cling to and that is more than enough at the moment. Hanley a bit rusty first half, a giant in the second, Pukki, fine goal and non stop running, Gilmour, got well into it today and Rashica, best game yet but my MOM today is Tim Krul, that save on the stroke of halftime made all the difference.
  22. 25 points
    Saudi money - on the back of misogyny, beheadings, bombing and starving the poor country next door, and generating the extreme form of Islamism that led to 9-11 I’ll stick with Delia
  23. 24 points
    Ten years ago (dear lord, is it really that long?!) I posted an analysis of how football finance had changed over time, generally, and in relation to Norwich City (and only in part to explain why the Chase and S&J eras cannot be sensibly compared without a great deal of context – not that it has stopped posters carrying on doing just that right up to now). I will put a link at the bottom, but in broad terms the argument was as follows: That the old model which existed in the early decades after world war two, of clubs being funded by the success of the local economy, so in effect wealth produced by the community, was replaced by the influx of personal wealth, in the shape of very rich people. That roughly still applies but even so a fair bit has happened in the last ten years, with what seem to me some crucial developments (and I am indebted for some of the figures to Robin Sainty, who recently wrote a piece that chimed with thoughts I had been having for a while). The rich are getting richer Ten years ago I instanced Randy Lerner as owner of Aston Villa being worth in the hundreds of millions. The current big cheese at Villa is worth in the billions. Everton used to be the plaything of Bill Kenwright, with £33m. Now it is Farhad Moshiiri, with £8.9bn. Crystal Palace’s Steve Parrish, another comparative pauper, has acquired £3.3bn Joshua Harris to help out. It’s a corporate world Back when Burnley won the Division One title in 1959-60 the chairman/owner was Bob Lord, a butcher who ended up with 14 shops locally. Fourteen! Increasingly now clubs are being bought not by a single rich fan but by families/corporations as part of a portfolio. Such as the Glazers with Manchester United and John Henry’s company, already owner of the Boston Red Sox, with Liverpool. This has brought a different reality and a different mindset. A rich person by themselves, no matter how well off, has only their own money to use, which necessitates a certain caution, or should do, though frequently does not, as any number of cases prove. The corporate tycoon, often with the football club as only part of their business, can act more boldly (as well, if listed on a stock market, as Man Utd are, as having an extra means of finance). One way in which this manifests itself is by knowingly and willingly going heavily into debt. It is perfectly common in big business for companies to have large debt. It isn’t particularly scarifying for them. And debt and publicly traded share issues are the two main ways of raising money for expansion. The contrasting constraints for Norwich City, not keen on owing even a comparatively modest amount of money for any great length of time and not listed on a stock market, hardly need spelling out. Rules? What rules? You don't have rules in a knife-fight! And these advantages/absences of constraints allow and often engender a more buccaneering and risk-taking approach to business not just financially but in terms of breaking the rules or at least stretching them very close to breaking point. As one US hotelier infamously said, ‘Only the little people pay taxes.’ Although she ended up in jail. One must be careful here, but it seems clear that some clubs with ultra-rich and/or corporate owners have broken or sailed very close to breaking FFP rules to get promoted from the Championship and/or to stay in the Premier League. Anecdotally (so not necessarily specifically true but certainly suggestive of a general truth) it was said that Villa could have been in financial difficulties if they had not stayed up that first season back (thanks to VAR going AWOL), and equally that Watford’s recent firing of their coach was for the same reason. And the examples of Derby County and Reading and several others show this kind of gamble, which is only sustainable if promotion is achieved, is rife in the Championship. In 2016, after Brighton had announced a £25.9m loss for a season in which they had failed to get promoted (with the FFP loss £39m over three seasons but some bits of losses are allowable) owner Tony Bloom summarized the dilemma and the subsequent temptation: "Our ambition remains for the club's teams to play at the highest level possible. As chairman (and lifelong supporter of the club), I will do everything I possibly can to achieve that and remain fully committed. Any Championship club without parachute payments wishing to compete for promotion will inevitably make significant losses. It remains a delicate balancing act for the board as we strive to achieve our ultimate aim." Brighton then got promoted and have never been charged with breaking FFP, but it is a fair guess that if they hadn’t gone up the cost of another failed attempt would have been problematic. The temptation, to which too many fall, is to double down and throw even more money at another bid for promotion in pursuit of that most misnamed of dreams – the promised land that supposedly is the Premier League, hoping that any FFP punishment will either be delayed or insignificant compared with the TV riches to come. As Robin Sainty points out, having survived a winding-up petition from HMRC in January, ‘’Derby County are in administration, having accrued a reported £28m debt to the taxman as well as a £15m secured loan from an offshore company, while Reading face a deduction of up to nine points.’’ But the figures in the Championship are dwarfed by the eye-watering debts and losses racked up by the supposed elite clubs. ‘’Barcelona have announced a loss of €481m, taking their total debt to a barely conceivable €1.3bn, while in the UK, Spurs have external debt of £831m, Manchester United owe £526m and Liverpool £268m.’’ Turns out the sky blue’s not the limit One might have thought the wealth of the owners (not to mention the size of their losses and debts) could not go any higher, but now we have clubs being bought by companies that are to a greater or lesser extent linked to the governments of oil-rich countries. And even there the purchase of Man City by an Abu Dhabi fund headed by a senior government figure didn’t set the ceiling. At the stroke of a pen the de facto head of the Saudi Arabian government has made Newcastle United the richest club on the planet. Leaving aside (only for now) the morality of such blatant sports-washing, this development only confirms that the racheting-up effect that has taken place in world football generally but in the top two tiers of English football particularly has not stopped. Mary Trump, the psychologist niece of Donald, wrote a book about him and the whole family entitled ‘Too Much and Never Enough’. Which is a pretty accurate summary of finances in the Premier League. Even though unsustainably vast amounts of money are being thrown at clubs this upward spiral means it can never be sufficient. There will always be a new and bigger deal that, as it were, trumps, the previous ones. Unless and until, as Sainty suggests, the whole gravity-defying circus comes crashing down. Poor but honest? If the circus collapses our Good Life self-sufficiency will be hailed as the model that should have been followed all along. But even if that were to happen football would not go back to some prelapsarian non-capitalist world of purely local community clubs. Manchester United have come a long way from being the works team of a railway company; Arsenal ditto from a Woolwich munitions factory; and Norwich City ditto from the amateur imaginings of some Edwardian gentlemen in a city café. Money would not stop being the key factor it always has been. So unless and until, what faces our club? It can go on with its model. It works, and with good management should go on working. There has been much talk, prompted by the Saudi deal, of morality in football, but the often forgotten moral imperative and first duty for those running any kind of business is to keep it running and not imperil it with vainglorious gambles. By its nature our self-sufficiency model avoids the dangers of financial over-reach and subsequent administration and points penalties such as those listed in far from exhaustive detail above. But it is also of its nature limiting (and probably will be increasingly so) and even now everything has to work well for the club to keep its current (yo-yo) place in the football pyramid, and work perfectly for it to progress. Fortunately the unlikeliest alternative is a takeover by one of the oil-rich states yet to decide they need some sports-washing. That seemingly leaves only a very wealthy someone, or something. Anyone who has read the recent expert contributions by @Badger to the ownership debate will know two truths. That most would-be buyers of football clubs, whether individuals or corporations, want and expect to make money out of their investment, or at the very least not to lose out. And, such is the upside-down world of football finance, that well-run, debtless, ground-owning Norwich City is a less tempting proposition than basket cases such as Derby County and Ipswich Town, or Sunderland. A third truth is that even if some altruist were willing to buy us, the ‘too much and never enough’ racheting-up process would not guarantee success. We might be better off but still be bottom of the Premier League Rich List. And the temptation to rolling-the-dice gambling would be there. As it stands, the only plan known publicly is that Tom Smith will receive S&J’s 53 per cent majority shareholding. A common assumption is that this plan is set in stone, and that Smith will carry on self-sufficiency exactly as before. I do not believe the plan is fixed, and as far as how he might run the club I have no idea, knowing next to nothing about him, although that hasn’t stopped fans who seems to know as little as I do being certain about what he will do, and his ability, or more often his lack of it, to run a football club. If I had his ear I would suggest another alternative. A version of self-sufficiency that was community-based, recognising the role of the club in Norfolk as a whole, with some finance from a group of well-disposed local people in business, and genuine – as opposed to lip service - fan involvement and power (a golden-share veto?) in decision-making. Would that please all fans? Hardly. The extra finance would certainly not be anywhere near too much, and definitely never enough. We would still be poor but honest. Just not quite as church-mouse poor but honest as we are now. - https://forum.pinkun.com/index.php?/topic/69368-big-bob-v-delia-the-verdict/&tab=comments#comment-959966 -
  24. 24 points
    Words from the boss on this signing - Head coach Daniel Farke said: “We’re really happy to have Josh with us. He’s at a young age with lots of potential. There was a lot of interest in him, so we must pay many compliments to Stuart Webber for getting this deal done. “Josh has a lot of experience in the top level in the Bundesliga in Germany and has been there with many goals and assists. He has also scored goals for his national team. “He’s a very good striking option for us but is someone who can also play on the wing. He has pace and is also good with his head. We know he is always there with a big workload and has a fantastic character. His left foot is complete and utter shoite as rightly pointed out by a fan who watched a 3 minute video, but we really like his right duke. “We know we have to be a bit more creative in the transfer market. We think we have a player in Josh who can contribute and develop into a top goalscorer on Premier League level. We see his potential and are delighted to have him with us.”
  25. 24 points
    Afternoon guys...Good to see you back. Looking forward to seeing you again this year as you play decent football and nobody needs any more West Brom's in the PL! Chelsea fan here as expected coming on to wish you all the best with Billy G. You have secured a gem and if he stays injury free you will see the quality immediately in the same way that James Maddison shone - in truth I am really shocked we loaned him out. Billy has amazing awareness for his age and you will quickly see his head is constantly on a swivel and most importantly he is always looking to keep possession but play forward wherever possible. His anticipation of space is superb and he hardly ever gives possession away. Defensively he is rarely caught out and was easily MOTM against Liverpool last year - no mean feat with those 2 midfields! He is mobile and likes to dominate the central third of the pitch and will link your play together and impact every aspect of your team play. He has been compared to Kante but I don't see that myself as he doesn't run with the ball in the way Ngolo does but If I had to find a comparison for him I would genuinely say he reminds me of a young Paul Scholes. Before I'm physically attacked clearly he needs to add goals to be in the frame with a great like Scholes but he has everything else and operates in a similar fashion. He now needs to add those forward runs that Scholes and Lamps were masters at and I'm hoping to see him develop with your team this year. You certainly play the way that should allow him to flourish. Wishing you all the best for the season guys - a proper club, proper ground and that Delia clip still makes me smile every time! Chatting to a mate of mine he said he would compare Billy to Modric in his early days at Spurs...well, if he becomes half the player Luka did I'd take that!
  26. 23 points
    You've got laugh at the pure ego of Norwich City Fans. One of the top clubs in the country, nay, in Europe, is interested in our Sporting Director and it doesn't create even a slight amount of self-reflection in considering that maybe Webber is actually highly respected and good at his job.
  27. 23 points
    This just shows that posters should be careful what they wish for.
  28. 23 points
    Nice to see him pictured alongside his successful signings from last summer.
  29. 23 points
    I find it astonishing some on here can't see that we're having to do what we can to build a bit of confidence and momentum back into the squad. People complained repeatedly that all we do against Burnley is get bullied and lose 2-0. Look at the prediction threads. Then we go and actually match up physically to them, and the complaints are that we aren't playing liquid football. I actually can't believe it needs explaining that to play the style of football we do and play two wingers etc requires a certain level of confidence. We need to get that back before we think we have the right to go and play through teams.
  30. 23 points
    That'd be us. Gunn Williams - Gibson - Kabak - Gianoullis Lees Melou - Normann - Gilmour Rashica - Sargent - Tzolis Good grief - there's never been a transfer window even remotely like it before.
  31. 23 points
    I hope every fan will support the players in taking the knee on saturday. If, for whatever reason, you find the act objectionable I hope you will at least remain respectfully silent and not bring shame to the club by booing.
  32. 23 points
  33. 23 points
    In the normal course of events I am never very lucky when it comes to Lotteries, draws or raffles, but when I made my application for tickets on Thursday I was absolutely confident that I was going to be a winner. Call it confirmation bias if you like but fate does seem to have a habit of playing out in strange ways. In the course of a long supporting lifetime you get to witness a whole raft of odd events. Bunny Larkins torn shorts, Kevin Keelans left hook that laid Tom Robson low and the night the fog came down in the League Cup semi final with just five minutes left are just a few of those unexpected little nuggets that immediately spring to mind. Weird events do happen but being present on a fine September afternoon in an almost empty stadium in the midst of a world wide epidemic is probably the weirdest of all. i have not done much cycling during the lockdown so we took it easy on the way down so as not to overheat. Thankfully I passed the temperature check o.k. and didn't get sent to the Covid Lounge. I was there ninety minutes before kick off but it didn't really seem necessary with only 1K attendance and there were plenty who arrived much later. In any event we had a good seat on the halfway line and gave the boys a big cheer when they came out to run through the warm ups. Buendia, absent again was a disappointment but the team looked strong enough on paper and when we kicked off towards the River End there was a nice blue sky but quite a blustery cool wind. The visitors looked quick and strong in the opening exchanges and probably edged the opening quarter with City seeming to find difficulty getting into any sort of rythym. Skipp caught my eye with some snappy tackling but McDowell took an early knock which saw him limp off mid way through the half. It didn't surprise me when Preston went ahead and although it was a soft penalty, players should know better than clatter into someone from behind when the ball is in the air. Davies went down rather easily but you couldn't really argue when the ref pointed to the spot. After this it didn't really get much better and I was bemoaning our lack of efforts on goal in the opening half hour when City finally exerted a bit of sustained pressure with crosses into the area. It looked like Preston had survived when it was hacked clear on the City right but when the ball was returned Declan Rudd could only fumble Pukki's flying header in off the post. This seemed to wake the home team up as the ball was now being pinged around in fine style and Pukki might well have had a second when a combination of Placheta, who had replaced McDowell, and Cantwell got him through with just Rudd to beat. The City Talisman tried to dink it past the Preston keeper but Rudd just got fingers to it to save the day. After a bout on the back foot Preston came forward again just before the break and picked apart the home defence with worrying ease. Sinclair had time and space to beat Krul but Godfrey did wonders to block it on the line. Unfortunately there were two Preston players waiting for the rebound and Fisher netted with relative ease. After a disappointing half there was much to ponder as we sat in the sun and having forgotten to bring my usual halftime livener I had to don an extra layer as the temperature started to drop. City began the second half with a little more zest and Max Aarons was unlucky when he curled a shot a foot over the bar after a sustained period of pressure. Preston however still looked very lively on the break and the home defence had to be on it's toes to defend a series of dangerous corners. A surging fifty yard run by Skipp almost got Pukki in again and Godfrey was a yard to high with a shot struck from twenty-five yards. Placheta was looking very dangerous with neat footwork and lightening speed down the left but he wasted a glorious chance When Rudd could only beat away a Pukki effort into his path. From six or seven yards the goal appeared to be at his mercy but a snatched effort sailed well over. Idah came on for Hernandez just after the hour markand was unlucky to see a deft header blocked in the six yard box. Again it was Placheta supplying the cross. Time was ticking away quite quickly and the visitors took every opportunity to milk the clock, much to the annoyance of the home crowd. I think those of us in the stands did our best to lift the boys and were generally as noisey as it is possible to be with only a thousand in the ground. It was great to be back but I am sure all would agree that it's not quite the same as having a full house. With only five minutes left more sustained pressure in the box found Placheta with a chance. The first was blocked but the second was volleyed beautifully into the far corner for the equaliser and from there on I was convinced we would get a winner. Preston still had plenty of fight and pushed us back on the break but in the final minute of added time I thought we had done it. A great ball out to the left found Placheta going at speed and his low cross was met perfectly by Pukki on the corner of the six yard box. I was up out of my seat but somehow Rudd got a hand to it and turned it over the bar. So near yet so far. So honours even and it would be churlish to say Preston didn't deserve their point. It is going to be a long season and we always knew it wouldn't be easy so I am relatively content tonight. At the very least I can now claim to have attended both the highest and the lowest ever first team gates at Carrow Road.
  34. 23 points
    Stuart Webber knows instinctively what is coming. “Every expert on TV before the Liverpool game will be writing us off,” Norwich City’s sporting director says. “It’ll be, ‘They have spent no money, it is a disgrace, what are the owners doing, they are stitching the manager up’ . . . blah blah blah. “Internally, as staff and players, we have to utilise that, ‘The whole world thinks you are not good enough because they think we should sign ten new players — what does that say about you?’ That is pretty disrespectful to some of our players.” The coming months will reveal whether Norwich can defy expectations and remain in the Premier League but, in the meantime, other preconceptions can be challenged with rather more haste. The insinuation lingers that this is a club that has lacked ambition in readying itself for a first return to the top flight since 2016, particularly given that a trip to Anfield lies in wait on Friday, yet that depends entirely on the barometer by which City are to be measured. If the gauge is spending £100 million à la Fulham last summer, a spree that ended in a speedy return to the Sky Bet Championship, or Aston Villa this time around — £134 million and counting — then Webber makes no apologies for not meeting that criterion. Alternatively, scratch below the surface and a cluster of young talents have signed new contracts rather than being sold, Daniel Farke, the manager, has committed his future and there is a revamped, state-of-the-art training ground that cost £6 million and replaced the 49 Portakabins that had previously constituted their base. The wage bill will rise to £65 million and Norwich hope the four signings they have made — Josip Drmic and Sam Byram plus Ralf Fährmann and Patrick Roberts on loan — can become the latest examples of how to manipulate the market. Just as Teemu Pukki’s arrival on a free transfer from Brondby a year ago resulted in 29 goals and proved a catalyst for progress. They are backing youth, players such as Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey, placing faith in a squad that scored 93 goals in winning the Championship with 94 points, trusting a manager Webber believes could become world class to eke out more improvement and putting foundations in place that will ensure that, were the worst to happen, relegation is not a disaster. “We might not be able to buy superstars, but we can create them,” Webber says in a neat precis of the club’s mantra. “Coming up has enabled us to get back on a financial footing which will last a long time for this club. It has allowed us to tie down assets which, otherwise, we might have had to sell and it has allowed us to invest massively in an infrastructure which will be here for ever. “We could have sold a Max Aarons for a considerable sum to then help us build the squad but we spoke about keeping this group together because we still think there is a lot of growth in the current players. “Whether they are good enough to stay in the Premier League we are going to find out. We don’t know. But we could spend £100 million and not know. “We cannot talk about the harmony of the group being a major strength and then panic. We actually don’t think we need a major rebuild. We didn’t think we had massive gaps.” History is on their side. No side winning the Championship have been relegated immediately since Cardiff in 2014, while the past has also helped to point the way forward. The reality is that Norwich tried spending big on previous flirtations with the elite only to flatline, and it has taken promotion to resolve the financial mess that came with that flawed splurge. This summer, a bonus payment was made to Everton relating to a promotion clause in Steven Naismith’s contract when he joined for £8.5 million in January 2016. Naismith’s last game for the club was in August 2017 and he spent the last 18 months of his three-year deal on loan at Heart of Midlothian. The sales of James Maddison and the Murphys, Josh and Jacob, in recent years were not with a view to reinvestment but borne out of necessity. “The biggest problem in my time here is that we have made nearly £70 million net in transfers and 95 per cent of it has gone to pay off misdemeanours, not improving things,” Webber says. “If we get to next summer and decide to sell a player for a considerable sum of money then, whatever league we are in, that money can be reinvested.” Webber has been entrusted with pulling a fresh blueprint together by the owners Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones, with success in East Anglia adding depth to the work previously undertaken at Huddersfield Town where he was behind the recruitment of David Wagner. The 35-year-old, who spent three years in Liverpool’s recruitment department earlier in his career, moved to Norwich in 2017, repeating the model of hiring a German coach — as with Wagner — from Borussia Dortmund’s second team. One of the attractions was Farke’s work ethic. Cameras have been installed at Norwich’s training ground to film every session, which can be followed live by a team of analysts. A case study of Farke’s ability to nurture talent would be Godfrey, the 21-year-old who was signed from York City aged 18 and has been transformed from defensive midfielder to centre back. Webber thinks he will play for England. “Daniel has the potential to be a world class coach and he has the potential to one day be stood in Liverpool’s dugout, managing them, not managing against them,” Webber says. “When I was appointed here or when I appointed Daniel, or David at Huddersfield, it was very clear — this is what this club is. If you want a club that is going to spend £40 million on a striker then don’t come. “We are not saying to Daniel, ‘You must keep us up.’ He should be protected in his job, not be the fall guy. We will either be successful or we will fail but we are not going to fail by doing a popularity contest of ‘we must spend £40 million because there is £40 million to spend’. “Our fans are educated enough to know we have spent a lot of money before and it didn’t work. They know the money isn’t being siphoned off into owners’ pockets. Every penny stays within the club and they know we will spend it wisely so that they have a better club at the end of it. We want to become sustainable, really healthy and successful. It would be great if, in five years, we are seen as a club that people want to be like and think, ‘We need to visit Norwich to see what they are doing.’ ”
  35. 22 points
    Have been digging around online to draw some comparatives with the prior two championship campaigns to hopefully spark some discussion – not just with how things are stacking up statistically, I understand this is not everyone’s cup of tea (nods to Dean Smith), but also to try to understand the current, pretty muted, mood of the fanbase. So here we go, I haven't covered everything I want to so might add some other bits to this later: Average position of teams faced (below) – our easy start has been noted across the board and a look to the prior 2 championship seasons does back this up – with the average position of teams faced (based on current standings) being 16th. On comparison, 2020/21 represented a marginally more challenging start with an average position of 14th, albeit still on the favourable side, and 2018/19 more challenging still but remaining pretty middle-of-the-road overall. Notably a difficult opening 5 games, and overall more teams being played from the top (5) and bottom third (6) as opposed to the middle third (1). This certainly does bring the importance of October more into light, as we are naturally beginning to play a larger portion of sides in and around us. Percentage of player gametime lost – i.e. of the players who played the previous year in the league over 90 minutes, how many did we lose and to what extent were their minutes lost in the teams overall playing minutes? This one is really surprising to me. On the surface it felt like, with only 4 senior signings made and no players unwilfully pinched from premier league clubs last year, that we had retained most of the squad. But we have actually lost a significant chunk of it - the 4 loanees, Rupp, PLM, Rashica, Tzolis and Placheta all out on loan. At the other end we’ve brought Cantwell back from the cold, Sinani, Hugill, Hernandez have all returned from loan spells. Byram and Omobamidele back from long-term injury layoffs. Gibbs has also broken into the side. As a result the player turnover at the club is much higher than what it ‘feels like’. Particularly on comparison to 2020/21 where we only lost a very small percentage of playing time from the prior season. Whilst none of these changes were done against the club’s will, there is surely a degree of patience which should be afforded to Smith through a period of many changes. This is another aspect which makes 2018/19 such a special season, we lost 14 'playing' individuals from the prior season, including Maddison, Oliveira, Josh Murphy, Angus Gunn, Harrison Reed, Hoolahan, amongst others. We replaced them with cheap overseas players, spending little and massively cutting down the wage bill. There was nothing to get excited about from this, nor from the prior season's performance under Farke, yet the team delivered the most memorable and chaotic campaign I have ever seen despite expectations being at a serious low! I haven't considered injuries in the above, and might come back to this, but my impression is that the notable holes in Smith's central midfield and at left back have been much more significant on the team than any pains we were suffering early on in 18/19 and 20/21. Albeit we were fielding Sorensen at left back from the Brentford away game in 2020/21 - and worse injuries came in the following month or so to extent we could barely field 11 senior players! So yes whilst the start has been favourable, player turnover has been high and we are suffering through multiple injuries to vital areas on the pitch, despite this we’re matching 2020/21 for points accumulated and surpassing 2018/19, with more goals scored to boot and only less conceded in 2020/21. With key players to come back into the fray we look like an excellent shout to finish in the automatic places this season. So why is everyone so miserable? Clearly, none of the above statistics can illustrate the ‘eye-test’ in how our undeniably strong numbers have accumulated this season; this is where Smith seems to be failing for many. It seems unlikely right now that anything under Smith this season will ever surpass peak Farkeball, but a more emotionless look at the results above under Farke at this stage does show there may be an overreaction to what we have seen so far. Don’t think about the euphoria and/or chaos of Huddersfield at home, Leeds away, Sheffield Wednesday at home, Forest at home - but look at the games below. How strong and 'entertaining' were these performances? Of course this is all subjective, but the only games that stick out as particularly memorable across both season openings – in a good way - under Farke were the Bristol City away game in 20/21, and Stoke away up until Buendia’s unfortunate red card. I can however recall plenty of pretty mediocre performances with even winning matches being shaky and arguably 'lucky'. Points earned with penalties (Rotherham, Middlesbrough), fortunate goals (McLean’s deflected goal at Brentford, Huddersfield away), or late winners coming after stuttering performances (Wycombe, Rotherham, Birmingham, Swansea). In narrow winning positions we also had a tendency to gift the opposition a superb chance in the final 5/10 minutes – but rarely got punished – I previously criticised Farke for not making subs early enough in these matches and causing a loss of initiative. Overall, it felt like we were still in first or second gear. Sounding familiar at all? Just to caveat that I understand this summary is negative, but I want to try and root out some of the criticisms which were being made of the team at the time – versus the team today – as there are some similarities. I’m sure this will be backed up with a look at some old match threads and may do this later, though I certainly don’t feel like the descent was as bad as it is now. It’s a shame fans were not allowed at Carrow Road either as I wonder what the atmosphere would’ve been like through these matches – again I would wager probably not as quiet as it is today. In 2018/19 after a mixed start with some brave performances against the top sides, the Preston and Middlesbrough games fuelled a turning point, it felt like the side matured somewhat around then – I’d say pretty comparable to the Millwall home game of this season; strong, controlled, comfortable – but more satisfying because of where the team had just came from. To be honest, 2018/19 does get a bit of a free pass as there were so many factors working against us that it feels unfair to directly compare performance levels to justify any subpar elements to this season (massive loss of players, reduced wage bill, new players brought in for a pittance, a harder run of fixtures), we were a side in massive transition from top to bottom! I personally think our problems in the fanbase run a little deeper than just ‘Smith’s football is boring’, ‘there’s no plan on the pitch’, etc, this is about the overall direction of the club, the compounding depression of the prior two premier league seasons, the loss of Farke who oversaw our most exciting period of the century, the fall out with Webber at the end of last season, the loss of faith in ever being successful in the PL under the current ownership, and everything in between. Expectation in the championship is higher than ever with fans wanting perfection. It is understandable to a degree, of course expectations evolve over time and we have gone from a side in complete transition on a shoestring budget in 18/19 to a team brimming with quality, strength in depth, and financial strength (for the championship). The increase in expectation is also compounded by last season. Webber has always talked of incremental improvement and building better for long term stability, but clearly unravelled somewhat after last season which was supposed to be our true arrival to the top league, the only way he will regain his reputation if we can somehow surpass 2020/21 and go back up stronger. But I don’t think we will surpass 2020/21 and it is difficult to understand how we can do better in the PL with so much reputational damage, mental scarring in our failed team of PL players and fans, and our general lack of financial competitiveness. Last season was an existential crisis for many and fans are still coming to terms with it all. I think all of this is the real drive behind the quietness of Carrow Road, the miserable-tone of many on the board and that level of ‘so-so’ feeling for many others. I don’t think this feeling will change for the rest of the season. For Smith, whilst I’d agree he lacks the same charisma / passion of Farke, the rapport with the fans, and the football has been patchy up to now, the real material issue behind it all is that he is the unfortunate flagbearer for a period where we are stuck in footballing ‘limbo’. Too good for this league, nowhere near good enough for the league above. That will only change when the cycle breaks and we find ourselves with a more certain direction to aim for (whether that’s aiming to get back to the top of the championship after faltering down the league, or actually being competitive in the premier league). If we do go up this season, which I think we will, I hope that the inclusion of Attanasio in the board can be a drive for change and a better use of the transfer market, right now it's probably the most tangible thing we can look towards for a competitive attempt at premier league football. As well as (hopefully) keeping all our best players from the prior season (i.e. no Skipp or Buendia situations). A couple of things that might genuinely make things different with another attempt.
  36. 22 points
    An absolutely incredible time. A season which will never be topped. Ever. Starting the season as relegation favourites. Going 2-0 down at title favourites Arsenal. Then scoring FOUR GOALS in the second half, two of them by Mark Robins, one of my favourite Norwich players of all time. For two or three months at the start of the season, he was absolutely unplayable. His chip of Seaman was followed by this glorious first time lofted volley against Chelsea in the very next match: one of the Premier League's great forgotten goals. There was a magnificent performance against Forest in front of the Sky cameras which sent us top: both Dave Phillips and Ian Crook scoring fabulous goals. Grinding performances v Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday which kept us top, sandwiched between a comical game at Chelsea: where our team bus, having been stranded in traffic, only arrived 15 minutes before kickoff. Playing like we were still on the bus, we rapidly went two down, then came all the way back thanks to maybe the worst goalkeeping performance the PL has ever seen. By poor old Dave Beasant - whose manager all but sacked him in public that evening! A really enjoyable top of the table clash at Coventry (yes, really!) ended in a draw. Then a rather less enjoyable top of the table clash at Blackburn ended in a 7-1 humiliation. Cue all the national pundits laughing at and writing us off; Danny Baker on 606, bitter forever because of us having beaten Millwall 6-1 a few years earlier, openly ridiculing us; and Alan Hansen on MOTD reminding us that Liverpool had had a lot of injuries lately. This would remain a running theme all season. Almost nobody in the national media ever appreciated us until what happened in Munich the following season. But the resilience we had was extraordinary. Bryan Gunn lost his baby daughter - yet heroically played regardless as we beat QPR, another very good side back then, 2-1... and not long afterwards was one of several season-defining games. Arsenal away was one, Oldham away was another. Robins got a hat trick: the final goal of which was in injury time, and the most majestically placed finish. He passed it through this impossibly tiny angle, and hit the only spot which could've resulted in a goal. The Norwich fans, who'd travelled to the game by a plane chartered by the club (!), went bonkers. Before Oldham, Arsenal had gone top and looked like they were getting their act together. After Oldham, the Gunners faded away and we pulled further and further clear: the highlight being one of the greatest Norwich City performances in history. Away to Villa, who the pundits overrated while underrating us, we could've been five up at half time, so dominant had we been. Mike Walker used a sweeper that day; the pity was he didn't do it more often on our travels. Yet as Norwich will always be Norwich, a 2-0 lead one minute before half time became 2-2 a minute after it thanks to blunders by Gunn and Ian Culverhouse... yet we went straight back up the other end and won it: Ruel Fox jinking and turning, before a daisycutter from Daryl Sutch, who was exceeding himself beyond imagination. We moved eight points clear. EIGHT POINTS CLEAR. At which point, the enormity of what they were doing suddenly seemed to hit the players. We went to Old Trafford in a game which, had we won, we'd probably have won the whole thing. We played decently but kinda passively; the game, and the massive opportunity it represented, sort of passed us by. And crucially, Crook was injured early on. We were nothing like the same without him. Schmeichel saved from Robins (the exact turning point right there), Sutch made a mess of a clearance, Mark Hughes punished us, and everything changed at that moment. We were basically playing catch-up after that. We lost form and rhythm; we went over five games without scoring at all; and in front of the BBC cameras v Tottenham in the FA Cup, the chickens came home to roost in an appalling performance. We had no confidence up front at all; defensively, we were a shambles, and we lost 2-0 going on 8-0. In the commentary box, Barry Davies could hardly believe what had happened to us. Mid-table mediocrity beckoned. At which point, again, the players responded. Again they faced their critics down. A goal down in no time v Crystal Palace, they proceeded to play beautifully in an exhilarating contest, one of the best of the season. Then winning at Everton that weekend (with Sunderland fans joining us and roaring us on after their game at Tranmere had been postponed very late on) via an absolute wondersave from Gunn put us back on top. Incredible! But the reason we ultimately didn't win the title was we just didn't have the squad numbers. Key players were injured around this time - Robins, Crook, Ian Butterworth, Jeremy Goss, Gary Megson - and we ended up bringing in the likes of Dave Smith, Colin Woodthorpe and Rob Ullathorne before they were ready. It's a tribute to them and the spirit of the side that they all slotted in and we ground out draws v Blackburn and Arsenal: very creditable results, but it meant we were falling astern in the title race. A 3-1 defeat at QPR in early March left us 7 points adrift and surely, out of it. Cue, to my mind, amid a whole host of them to choose from, the single greatest thing that side did. Somehow, they picked themselves up yet again. Somehow, they won three in a row, keeping three clean sheets too... and with United and Villa both stuttering, we went top again! Before crashing back down to Earth at Wimbledon, where our passing approach invariably ran into a brick wall. We were tired too; the injuries had played their part in that. Yet what happened? My favourite game in Norwich City history happened: a sensational match v Villa, end to end throughout. Either side could've won, Garry Parker missed an open goal, and John Polston, 24 hours after his wife had given birth, sparked delirium 8 minutes from the end. It says something rather awful that Sky were at Man Utd-Arsenal that night, despite the Gunners being stranded in mid-table. The whole country deserved to see Norwich v Villa and missed out hugely. But it meant that we now had 12 days to think about being only six games from the title. After the Villa game, so many of our own fans, who'd assumed we'd probably come up just short, suddenly believed... but we forgot how good United were, and how brilliant Alex Ferguson was. They took us to the cleaners via one of the greatest counter-attacking displays in PL history: it was the template for so many of their sides in the years ahead. Giggs and Kanchelskis were on fire, we couldn't cope - and that was that, confirmed by a 5-1 shellacking at White Hart Lane four days later, with the players clearly traumatised by what United had done. Shattering their dreams; reminding us, belatedly, of our place in the world. Many Norwich fans wish they could have the home game to United back. I wish we could have the away one back. Because they were pretty fitful at that point, really struggling for fluency and goals, while we were flying. If we could somehow have won that December afternoon, history might be so very different. But as it was, Cantona made all the difference for them - while crucially, we failed to sign anyone until Efan Ekoku on transfer deadline day. Including Patrik Andersson, the perfect solution defensively: but Blackburn snatched him from our grasp because of course, they paid far higher wages. In the last minute at home to Blackburn, Andersson hit a fizzing shot which Gunn did really well to turn round the post. We didn't know it at the time, but that was a moment of quite colossal importance. Had it gone in, we wouldn't have qualified for Europe: which wasn't even guaranteed for anyone finishing below 2nd. Instead, via a glorious Palace-style win v Leeds (Chris Sutton getting a hat trick and announcing himself as a striker, not the central defender he'd been previously), a dreadfully depressing defeat at Ipswich, a scrambled win v Liverpool (our last home win v them to this day) which owed entirely to David James losing the plot and getting himself sent off, and the most mental 3-3 draw at already relegated Middlesbrough, in which we repeatedly tried to beat ourselves, Walker's selection was suicidally over-attacking, but Ekoku and young Andy Johnson saved us, we fell over the line in third... and all became Arsenal fans for the next 12 days. They'd already won the League Cup. Now they were going for an (at the time) unprecedented domestic Cup double. If they won, we'd qualify for the UEFA Cup. If Sheffield Wednesday, beaten already in one final, got their revenge, all our incredible efforts would've been for nothing. The first game finished 1-1. The replay went to extra time. We were one minute from our entire fate being decided out of our hands in a penalty shoot-out... at which point, ex-Norwich defender Andy Linighan headed the ball through ex-Norwich keeper Chris Woods' hands... and we'd done it! We were in Europe! After, remember, being denied it in 1985, 1987 and 1989 thanks to the hooliganism and violence of others. On balance, that we ultimately made such heavy weather of finishing 3rd probably proves that we were never quite good enough to win the league. As does the absolutely extraordinary stat that we ended up in the top three with a negative goal difference. Imagine that! 1-7 at Blackburn, 1-5 at Tottenham, 1-4 at Liverpool, 0-3 at Southampton, 0-3 at Wimbledon were why - yet we took a stunning amount of points from losing positions (including from two down at Arsenal and Chelsea), and had a superbly strong home record, only losing twice. And in the end, we got exactly what we deserved. Those players were all so down to Earth, so likeable, so hugely relatable - and at a time of hoofing it and the long ball, we did things totally differently. Observers overseas would highlight this the following season and laud Walker for his approach: this was a truly enlightened football club winning hearts all over Europe. The tragedy was it all ended so fast - and by the end of 1993/4, Munich and Milan already both seemed like dreams. 1992/3 was the greatest time to be alive for any Norwich City supporter. I'll never forget it. The entire season is burnished into my brain forever. And we did it with a bunch of humble, down to Earth blokes who had the time of their lives - and for the next 23 years, were the last provincial club ever to contend for the title. Celebrate them. Never forget them. They are all legends. As is their leader: Mike Walker himself, who the players adored, was tactically brilliant, and spent the entire season taking the **** out of our God-awful football media. The greatest manager in our history. I bloody wuv him, I do.
  37. 22 points
    Is there anyone now still in doubt that the project is not working as it was intended? The reputation our club has been developing since Webber/Farke arrived has now reached the stage where we can attract AND afford not just good young players, but the best young players. The two go hand in hand - attract and afford. Ya da ya da, I know we've not kicked a ball yet this season, I know we haven't got super rich owners, I know we hint bought a CB etc etc - but to say the project is not working would be a bit churlish imo. Yes, we could still get relegated, but yes, we could stay up and yes we could even do a lot better than just stay up, but to me this transfer window has been a vindication of the policies adopted by the club - to make us the club to go to if you are young and want to develop your career. It started even before Farke/Webber with attracting Maddison to the club and the bringing through of the Murphy twins so it is not a new idea and we were already recognised as a good club to go to, but in four years we have gone from being on a one way road to nowhere financially with an aging squad with huge contracts to pay, to a club totally at ease with itself financially, playing great football and attracting the best young players available from around the world. Beautiful football, stable and effective management, togetherness on and off the pitch, improving finances with getting the best young talent that will get more big money transfers later on to improve finances to be able to do even more...... I mean - what's not to like??
  38. 22 points
    Norwich supporters, as a Werder Bremen supporter I felt the need to come see what the reaction to this singing was amongst Norwich supporters and I have seen many many misconceptions about the type of player Sargent is based on YouTube highlight films so I have decided to comment. He is a fast player, despite what many in this forum have said, he regularly reaches 31+ km/h which is among the fastest in the Bundesliga. Secondly he is like a wind up toy, he never stops running and pressing, in fact, due to our poor offensive play last year, Sargent creating turnovers was often our greatest source of goal scoring chances. Also, he rarely rarely got the chance to play at striker, and is often a second striker or wide midfielder tasked with tracking all over the pitch. I have watched him with USA and with them he shows the ability to run at players and beat players with his dribble, something he didn’t have the chance to do often at Bremen. When I saw him play for the US against Northern Ireland, I simply couldn’t believe how good his dribble and passing was and what chances he created with those skills. That is something almost foreign to my Bremen over the past few seasons. Lastly he is tall and strong, very good in Ariel battles, not just shooting with his head, but also winning possession for his team. His finishing can let him down it is true, but with the chance to play as a striker and train with a excellent manager day in day out he can surely improve, since he is known to fellow German fans and other players in the bundesliga for his proper attitude and desire to improve. Certainly he is not a perfect player, but in my mind he fits the premier league style like a glove and is young. Basically all this to say I think he’s a good transfer for Norwich. And I’ll will miss him at Bremen. Also, Sorry for such an essay, sorry also for my English skills.
  39. 22 points
    I have had several posters ask me recently to write a piece about my early supporting days back in the early 1950’s and as we are in the fairly quiet time between seasons I thought I would give it a go. This part I call "How it all started" My Grand parents lived in King Street and many years it was the family meeting place before going off to the match. I must have been six or seven years old when I first became curious about “The Canaries” or “Carrow Road”. I think it all started while listening to bits of excited conversation between my dad and my uncles on Saturday lunchtimes in the early 1950’s. The excited tones must have got through to me because I soon began to pester my dad to take me to a match. My dad was an engraver and sign writer and couldn’t leave the shop on Saturdays so my first trip down to Carrow Road was with my uncle Bert and my cousin Mike. Now many people say they have vivid recollections of their first game but in all honestly I can’t recall very much other than I think it was a pre-season game which they used to call Possibles v Probables. I can’t remember the score or anything other than the surge of noise and excitement every time the ball got near the goalmouth and I was pretty much hooked on it from that first moment. This was in the decade following WW2 and apart from the football, the cinema and radio there wasn’t a great deal in the way of entertainment. Not that many could afford it anyway, the country was skint and food rationing was only now coming to an end. I think this was the 1953/54 season and although I was taken to three or four league matches I have very little recollection of them now. What I can remember are the names, Tom Johnstone, Alfy Ackerman, Johnny Gavin and Bobby Brennan. I have no visual memories of the first two but the latter two were to become my earliest hero’s. In the early 1950’s the kick off time was 3.15pm while it was light enough and then 2.15pm once the clocks went back. Floodlit matches didn’t start until the latter part of the decade. We used to head off down King St, past innumerable pubs, shops and factories, the vast majority which have passed into memory. Rouen Road didn’t exist at that time, just a multitude of little lanes and alleys that ran all the way down from Ber St. The whole area was a maze of Victorian terraces, interspersed with the odd open space still evidencing the scale of the bombing that had scarred our City a decade before. As a small boy I found enormous pleasure in exploring those narrow alleys with their flights of steps going up to different levels and with shops and pubs on every corner. The crowds would stream down them on match days and at each junction with King St. hundreds more were added to the ever increasing throng headed for Carrow Bridge, for there was no other way across the Wensum, except at Thorpe Station. There seemed to be a pub every fifty yards or so, The Builders Arms, The Tuns, The Ship, The Old Barge, The Wherry, The Ferry Boat, The Kingsway and probably a few more that I’ve forgotten. The abiding smell was of beer from the pubs and Breweries and tobacco smoke because virtually every man had a fag or a pipe on the go and everyone seemed to wear a hat or a cap and a gabardine raincoat. Nowadays it’s fashionable to turn up in the latest replica kit or during inclement weather, a woolly NCFC hat with matching gloves and scarf. Back in the 50’s most fans just came in their ordinary daily clothes and just occasionally you would see somebody with a home knitted yellow and green scarf. For FA Cup games you might see a few rosettes and of course wooden clackers that seem now to have largely passed into history. The bright modern stadium we see today bares little resemblance to the Carrow Road of the 1950’s. It was then a fairly drab looking structure with dark painted fencing and wooden turnstiles. It looked exactly what it was, something that had been knocked together in double quick time without thought for any long term utility. What will always remain in the memory are the huge green painted iron gates that used to be swung open by groundsman Russell Alison just after halftime. There were always a few who couldn’t afford it and would creep in and see part of the game for free. The terraces were just large earth mounds covered in grass at the rear with two or three sets of concrete steps leading up to the summit. The fencing at the back of the terracing was simply a line of elongated railway sleepers set on end with the occasional bit of advertising hoarding on top. It wasn’t permitted but at big matches people would climb on these for a better view. We usually entered from Carrow Road into the ground ( I think it was either nine pence or maybe a shilling for boys) and then went up the side steps onto the River End terrace. This was only partially concreted and for many years a large potion of the standing terracing consisted of railway sleepers. We called it the River End for obvious reasons but in reality it was part of “The Ground” as you could stand anywhere right round as far as the corner of the Barclay for the same price. It was all open terracing; the only cover was the Barclay and Main stand. In the corner where they built the Disabled stand was a curved bit of terracing that stood beneath the old Pinkun Score-board. It was a large black painted structure with letters from A to Z painted on it. At halftime a man would come out of a little door and hang numbers on hooks underneath each letter. If you had a programme you could match up the games with the letters on the board. You may well laugh but that was the state of technology at the time. Mobile phones and the Internet were something out of the Eagle comic and Dan Dare “Pilot of the Future”. You had no knowledge at all of other games and results unless you got home in time for Sports Report on the BBC at five o’clock. You could not enter the ground from directly behind the South stand because there was a water filled **** that ran up from the river. I think this was still there even into the 1970’s. We used to walk round from the River End and stand half a dozen rows back and directly in line with the penalty area. I think that is why many of my early memories are of goals scored at that end. One that always sticks in my mind is Bobby Brennan’s opening goal against Sheffield Utd in the ’59 Cup run. After the South Stand was covered in 1960 I used to move to which ever end we were shooting in and change at half time because that decade was mainly a dull time and there was nearly always plenty of room. It was during that time when we said goodbye to the railway sleepers and all of the terracing was concreted. In the early days there was a concrete slope that you could use to exit the South stand if you wanted to leave by the Thorpe End. When the Stand was improved and extended this was eliminated and you could only get out at the corner through a smallish opening that led to a narrow flight of steps. At the final whistle there was a rush for this exit and you were squeezed out above a precarious 30 foot drop. Thankfully there was a strong steel barrier to save the unwary. The back of the Barclay was just a grass covered mound with steps leading up. There were brick toilets in both corners I think and a large wooden building serving as a bar for half-time refreshment which consisted mainly of bottles of Steward and Patterson’s Light Ale. When the second half resumed there would be hundreds of empty bottles left on the shelves that ran along the front of the bar. If it rained hard you had the choice of the Barclay Stand and at any time during the match you had the option to pay either three-pence or sixpence to transfer through a little gate in the fencing to get under cover. If I went in the Barclay I liked to stand to the right of goal and it was from here that I have a strong memory of standing with my dad in 1960 the night we beat Southend 4-3 to gain promotion to Division 2. We lived just off Plumstead Road at the time and used to get the 92 bus to Rosary corner. We would walk back and he would tell me stories about the old days when City played at the Nest on Rosary Road . Because of his work he could only get to evening matches so those few occasions that we stood together are especially treasured in my memory. I remember him taking me to the first ever floodlit match atCarrow Road in 1957. It was a friendly against Sunderland, I still have the programme. The façade of the main stand was the only brick built structure. The seating was mostly wooden forms with a numbered space. Only the centre block had tip up wooden seats but that was for the toffs and well out of our reach. In front of the seated area was a narrow standing terrace about ten steps wide that was called The Enclosure. You could get a transfer into it from the ground for a small sum. I stood in there a few times but I only ever recall going in the main stand on one occasion. That was on a rather chilly Boxing Day in 1958 when my dad decided it would be a Christmas treat. We played Reading and Roy McCrohan scored the only goal with 25 yard scorcher at the Barclay End. It’s over sixty years ago but I can still see it as though it was yesterday and it still brings a tear to my eye when I think of it. I'm sorry if it's a bit long but once I started the memories came flooding back and I found it hard to stop.
  40. 21 points
    The number of people who complain about McLean regardless of how he plays astounds and, at times, annoys me. I am not a Kenny lover. In fact I feel we need better if we do achieve promotion but lets give credit where it is due on occasions. Yes, he is not a DM. In fact the last time we were promoted he played in the midfield with Olly Skipp, who is a DM, but, at the moment we do not have a DM so the manager calls on Kenny. Before Byram regained fitness we didn't have a left back so the manager called on Kenny. Then we look at tonight's match. Pukki scored our first goal after a free kick. Who spotted a one on one and quickly took a long, accurate ball, yes Mclean. The second goal, a through ball from Ramsay to Pukki after an interception. Who anticipated the Bristol pass and made the interception? Right again, McLean. But he couldn't have anything to do with Sarge's goal could he? Look again. A positive run takes away Weimann to allow Sarge the room for his header, that was McLean again. But all he seems to get on this forum, from most people, is criticism. When he plays badly and contributes nothing I have no problem but he seems to be on a hiding to nothing every game.
  41. 21 points
    Can we just please stop with this fallacy that in the championship all we done was destroy teams in the championship and these sort of scrappy away wins never existed? Our last championship title winning campaign under farke started with - 1-0 win vs Huddersfield thanks to them playing a backpass to Pukki - 2-2 draw against Preston at home, with Placheta rescuing a point for us in the 85th minute. - 0-1 loss to Bournemouth. They scored in the 35th minute. - 0-1 loss at home to Derby. Cries from fans that Farkeball has been sussed and Ipswich would finish above us. - 2-1 win against Rotherham. Same scoreline as tonight, apart from we needed an own goal, red card and last minute penalty to take the points. - 1-0 win at home to Birmingham. We needed a red card and an 87th minute Vrancic winner, for the record. - 2-1 win against newly promoted Wycombe Wanderers. Farke was an absolutely fantastic manager for us and always comparing Smith to him seems unnecessary anyway. But if you're determined to compare them, at least compare it against the reality rather than a figment of your imagination.
  42. 21 points
    I'm one of those who remain convinced that if we say goodbye to Teemu Pukki, whatever the offer, before this window closes, then we can kiss goodbye to promotion. There seems to be this constant undercurrent on this forum that the player is somehow past it. A popular pastime amongst some eager detractors. Those whose microscopic views feed their need to be critical. Nothing could be further from the truth and even if, and big if, he has lost a bit of his sharpness then it is, imo, only temporary. Any perceived loss of pace will be compensated for in other ways. Besides, if Premier League Everton are indeed interested, then any deterioration in the player's performances cannot have been seen as significant. Goals apart (and he could easily have had a couple by now with better luck on his side,) I think that he has performed well so far this season and virtually up to par. Any significant loss in any way could well be catered for by this enforced rest. For such a workhorse, even the recent workload has been excessive, carrying both club and international commitments with little break and for a prolonged period. So the Sarge has become a striker overnight, and let's hope he keeps it up.** He is, though, as prone to injury as any other player. Idah is prone to injury, full stop. Hugill is not up to it. Overnight, we could well have one of the most suspect strike forces in the entire division with limited time to redress. Lose Teemu Pukki right now. No way! ** He'll need to if we lose Teemu.
  43. 21 points
  44. 21 points
    Certainly won't stop me. I'd have him back anytime. The only idiots - if you must use that word - are those that wanted him sacked in the first place.
  45. 21 points
    Perhaps time for some to take stock and thank our owners for keeping us financially secure, stable and competitive in relative terms.
  46. 21 points
    From the Scottish second tier to Anfield away – the whirlwind story of Alex Neil at Norwich City “Did you ever get involved in something where the feeling is just so good all the time? You move to the next bit and the next bit without any contemplation of it going wrong,” Alex Neil says. “You’ve not a worry in your body, you don’t see the negative in any situation. You just think there’s the solution, boom.” Has British football management ever seen a trajectory like Neil’s? Consider this: on April 26, 2014, he was a 32-year-old player-coach in the Scottish Championship, with fans demanding he be sacked after losing away to Dumbarton. On May 26, 2015, he was waking up as the youngest manager in the Premier League. Before long, he was drawing at Anfield, winning at Old Trafford. “For two years the way life went was incredible,” muses Neil from his home near Preston. Maybe his greatest feat has been staying himself — the same sharp-minded, no-frills, football-in-his-gut guy from Coatbridge, near Glasgow, despite the changing weather of his career. He didn’t set out to coach when he started his badges at 28, while undergoing rehabilitation for a hip injury, but in hindsight was made for it. He’s from a family of teachers and from his early twenties had been a captain. He became Hamilton Academical’s player-manager after his good friend, Billy Reid (now Graham Potter’s assistant at Brighton & Hove Albion), was sacked and in his first full season — 2013-14 — led the modest Lanarkshire club into Scotland’s top flight. A spiky midfielder, he was still combining playing with coaching when Hamilton then tore through the Scottish Premiership with a fearless, high-pressing, attacking style. They won at Celtic Park for the first time since 1938 and were third when Norwich City gambled on him in January 2015. There, he rolled on, with 17 wins in 25 games to sweep the side into the Premier League. Neil was three weeks shy of his 34th birthday when Norwich defeated Middlesbrough in the Championship play-off final and suddenly found himself in the world’s richest league — on its lowest budget. He nevertheless beat Manchester United and drew with Liverpool and Arsenal. However, Norwich tailed off, went down and Neil was dismissed. The Premier League was a different world.The first shock was the profile it brought. “I’d walk into a room and see a player or manager I’d been watching on TV since I was a kid and they’d turn round and say, ‘Alex, how are you?’ I’d be, ‘How do you know me?’ I found that bizarre.” Then there was the culture. “I don’t know how you feel about this but the more money there is in the game, the more it poisons things,” he says. “At Hamilton, guys play to feed their kids. I remember fining players at Hamilton a fiver for being late and they’d be gutted. You go from that to somewhere where there’s a squad initiation where you either sing a song or put a grand into the pot. The amount of lads putting a thousand pounds into the pot was incredible. I’m thinking I’d sing a whole album for a grand.” And that was at the division’s poorest club. “The main difficulty I had — and they still have it, which is why it’s difficult for them to stay up — is the gulf in finances. Norwich are self-sustaining, which means [after promotion] there’s no money to put in initially. What they did this year, smartly, was reserve some money from their last time [in the Premier League] so they did have cash to sign players straight away. “The narrative is you win the play-off final and get handed £200 million. Nah. The money comes in three batches and the other thing to bear in mind is after promotion your players’ wages will go up a third and you pay bonuses. Right away, before the money arrives, £25 million has just walked out the building.” However, he loved the challenge, forbidding as it was. A 5-4 defeat by Liverpool at Carrow Road encapsulated things. Norwich were 3-1 up when a defensive mistake let in the opposition. “That’s the Premier League. One error can cost you and the minute big teams smell blood, you’re in trouble. The Premier League is the only level where you can play well and still lose regularly. Look at Brighton last season, they were good — and almost went down. “The one I remember is going to Southampton and thinking, ‘We’ve a good chance of winning this.’ They had a young Sadio Mané on one wing, [Dusan] Tadic on the other, [Graziano] Pellè up top and I was unaware how good they were going to be — until the game started.” Neil remains fond of Norwich, their fans and the owners, Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones. He understands the challenges facing Daniel Farke, the head coach. “Daniel’s style, to get out of the Championship, is ideal because they’ve got the best players and are so difficult to play against: so expansive, they make the pitch big and have real quality in forward areas. The problem is that style relies on confidence, on rhythm, on being in control of the ball every time you play. “You can’t do that in the Premier League. Impossible. Because you come up against Man City and might have 20 per cent of the ball and have to understand how you’re going to stop them. That’s why the likes of Burnley do so well. Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis, those guys [who are Premier League survival specialists] — they’re hard to beat, make things difficult, nick something.” Neil notes how Thomas Frank has tweaked Brentford’s style to something more pragmatic since promotion, whereas Farke has been slower to compromise. Yet Neil recognises Farke’s principled nature (or is it stubbornness?) because “I was the same. I didn’t know anything different to the style I had. I tried width, pace and to keep attacking but one of the hardest things in the Premier League is the fixture list. You’re trying to find something that works but you go Man City away, Liverpool, Arsenal — then play Burnley. It’s the difference between having 20 per cent possession one day and 60 per cent the next.” He left Preston “with frustration and a bit of fire in my belly” after a strange January transfer window in which the club sold three of his key players and the team tumbled from one point off seventh to 16th between mid-February and mid-March. He believes he’s a better manager now than that young guy on a golden roll. “I’ve mellowed. I have more understanding of high-profile players and their different motivations. I’ve done almost 400 games and I’m 40, so it’s a lot of experience.” An incredible lesson in how a managerial mind needs to stay fresh came when, after his promotion with Norwich, Neil took a call from Sir Alex Ferguson. “I thought it was going to be him saying, ‘You need to do this,’ but it was more him saying, ‘So what do you think about . . . ?’ He was more interested picking my brain and seeing my perspective. Brilliant.”
  47. 21 points
  48. 21 points
    To perform an extremely complex operation to remove Ivan Toney from Grant Hanley's pocket.
  49. 21 points
    A balanced view? I hope any Librans out there would say so… 1. The project. Yes, there is one, like it or not. And the project exists because it is the only financially sensible way of running the club if you have pauper owners who are not prepared or indeed able to break whatever FFP rules are called now. By its nature the project is likely (as we have painfully seen) to involve sliding down the odd snake as well as climbing up a few ladders. Arguments against the project in reality are arguments against having pauper owners, and there are valid arguments to be made there. But given the apparent handover of power to Tom Smith, with the status quo implied (on the basis of very limited information, and I would need to know more) by that succession, then arguments are futile. Fans who do not want the status quo need to start acting now to try to force change. 2. Could we have avoided relegation, the snakes and ladders aspect of the project notwithstanding? Subsection a) Were the summer and winter transfer windows c*cked up? Not least because we spent zilch? Yes and no. The signing of several promising youngsters (and those this summer) was in tune with the longer aim of the project. But the headline deals? That we didn’t spend much of permanent deals is less important than whether we signed the right players. If we had bought Fahrmann, Amadou and Roberts it would have cost us a satisfyingly macho amount of money. But not one lasted the course. I don’t know about Roberts. But Amadou was plainly meant to replace Tettey (I believe Tettey said – and expected - as much) and I remember Bethnal, who is no-one’s fool on football, saying what I also thought, which was that Krul would start the season as first choice but Fahrmann would end it as such. Krul ( I know it is heresy but even factoring in playing behind an awful defence I still have doubts about him, as presumably did Webber and Farke) made no obvious mistakes, and Fahrmann was left twiddling his thumbs. And Amadou, in a crucial position, where Webber and Farke obviously knew we needed at least cover and probably an upgrade, left in the winter as well. Was it a risk to place such hopes on someone who’d never played in English football before, given the tactically important and physically demanding nature of the position? As it happens it was good we didn’t spend the money on permanent deals, but that hardly makes up for the fact, for a variety of reasons, and Webber and Farke might well have explanations that put this in a more rounded context, that the summer window didn’t achieve one of its two main objectives, which was to improve the first-team squad. Subsection b) Did Farke's game management and coaching let us down. I don't know, not least since I never had a minute's football coaching in my life. I have read a great deal about the supposed failings of zonal marking, particularly at set pieces. Is that it, or is it simply that we have missed our two most physically imposing central defenders? I defer to posters who actually know a bit about the game, but I get the sense Farke could have done better sometimes, even allowing for him coming up against some of the best coaches in world football. The CV of Ancelotti at Everton, for example, is just absurd, taking in a good percentage of the greatest clubs in world football. I don’t think relegation is a self-inflicted wound, but I don’t believe we made as good a fist of trying to stay up as we could have done. I also believe Webber and Farke will have learned from this season.
  50. 21 points
    Nash Game Theory assumes that self-interest encourages competitors to find and use the optimum strategy in any given scenario. There is criticism - common when results are negative - of tactics, substitutions, Board, philosophy, strategy, lack of Plan B* and quality. There are pages of quick-fire simplistic solutions all over this board implying that ‘if only we did x, or if only we did y’ we’d be better off, surviving, thriving, competing better. In that context - and to make an empirical judgment - the only meaningful question is: ‘Are we doing the best we can with the parameters we have?’The painful Nashian evaluation might well be that this is ‘as good as it gets’. *Plan B does not need to exist if Plan A is already the best you can do with what you have. Which is not the same as winning every (or in fact any) week.Farke’s defence - and by extension the Club’s unless contradicted - is that the limits of the finances (ergo the limits of the self-sustaining model) ensure that we have a ‘youthful’ (trans: naive, inexperienced as well as ‘young in age’) team that is learning on the job, increasing in education and increasing in value as an asset, further sustaining the model. The concentration of youth in defence (and conversely age in attack), can be observed to be the photo-negative of the typical approach whereby (to exaggerate to make the point) old sweats - battle-hardened, scarred and negative - have the appropriate, fearful, danger-lurks-around-every-corner mindset to keep goals out, whilst young, fearless, carefree, try-anything-once, zippy-footed youngsters bear down spontaneously on goal, making it hard to determine their next move and increasing the chances of scoring. That teams and players are significantly better en bloc at Premier level can be clearly noted. Systems are as strong as their weakest point and teams have the funds, depth of resources and analysis to minimise, amortise and prioritise their weaknesses. The optimum strategy to disturb Norwich’s tactics philosophy might be observed to be a well-coordinated high press, with dynamic physicality and a particular focus on the dedicated tempo-playmaker (vid the targeting of Leitner).But wait. That’s not exactly news is it? Didn’t everyone know to do that last year in the Championship? A clear example of how and why it is greater quality, finer coordination - not Norwich failing in some way - that sees our negative outcomes repeating can be seen in the intelligence, unity and coordination of the high press against us. A press that contains 6 players moving in synch not 3 makes a fundamental difference. Players that can mentally repeat this process better, for longer and can then do something penetrative and meaningful with the ball after they have achieved a turnover (perhaps at the fourth time of trying). They then do it all again after making an assist or scoring. Do not underestimate how impressive this is. It just doesn’t exist to anything like this level in the Championship. And all Premier teams can do it. Pukki’s exceptional goalscoring of course bailed us out multiple times from some average performances last season, he now gets less space, less chances and the increased pressure on defending inevitably leads to more exposure to danger and less creation. In the Championship other teams miss and waste a far higher percentage of chances, encouraging and rewarding more open strategies (to the point of cavalier: vid Alex Neil). It can be observed that you simply don’t have to focus so hard on defending and minimising chance creation against you under these parameters. That you may not be mentally, tactically or physically equipped to amend this failing at a later date at a higher level can also be observed. Buendia - arguably second in influence over outcomes last season behind Pukki - has been less able to exploit a half second of time and space than he was a full second of it in the Championship. Conversely Cantwell, statistically far less effect in the Championship than Buendia (and others) - indeed he was arguably peripheral for much of the Championship campaign - has shown himself well able to replicate what he can do at the top level with comparatively much less time to do it in. This does not inevitably meant that he will dominate - or even succeed - if returned to the Championship. This is what scouts and Coaches really look for. Not really FM2019 style stats on who has done what - anybody can find and filter those - but rather ‘does what he does translate to a higher level? Will he be able to do the same thing with less time, under greater pressure, when he has to think faster, when his mistakes cost him more, when he is exposed to brighter lights?’You might note that England has typically dominated smaller teams - often beating them far more heavily in qualifying than other major nations - only to regularly come up short when in the latter stages of a tournament. This is why. The style of play and methodology (until recently) dominated at lower levels and was conversely ill-suited to higher levels. One does not prove the other. In the Championship goals are often scored by a relatively limited number of players. Often not lots of midfielders or defenders score repeatedly (we were an exception) and coaching dangers can be reasonably targeted on limited areas. In the Premier it is far less the case that you can discount some areas, players and possibilities as nearly all players are capable of causing problems if left unattended. Norwich have also made a stylistic decision that has implications for the type of player they recruit and play as Farke has repeatedly stressed. The approach of our contemporaries is instructive here to counterpoint our philosophy. Villa and Sheffield United have followed the tried-and-tested received wisdom of the ‘winning the mini-League’ and adopting defensive-minded strategies with high physicality and athleticism to spoil, disrupt and compete with similar sides and restrict chances of big beatings - with the hope of the odd ‘cup win’ style victory against an off-colour superior. Heightened physicality - often (outside of very high prices) with a corollary of less fluid technicality - can thus be observed as an advance acceptance of mini-league membership. We decided to do different, aware of the risks. We can be observed to have attempted (actually ‘be copying’) the style of top level clubs in a desire to dominate possession and win games by ‘being better’ than the opposition. This is an ambitious and attractive approach that - let us not forget - was well able to dominate the Championship where ‘spoilers’ abound. It can be observed - currently - to be a style of play suited to playing better teams ( Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, even Liverpool) who have a similar approach, albeit with far greater resources. The sit-tight-and-counter-attack approach is far safer tactically (disclaimer: it might be observed that this is actually what we de-facto did vs Man City) and whilst it concedes possession, it does not threaten your own defensive shape in the way that fluid attacking and brave chance-creation often does. The apparent bete-noire for Norwich of weak set-piece defending via zonal marking is true and not true. Zonal marking exists in man-to-man marking systems too. Putting men on the posts is a zone no? The perceived danger of an opponent ‘getting a run on you’ via Zonal should be negated by simply filling the area they want to run into by having lots of strategically-placed bodies there (which we do). Opponents can’t often (if ever) score from headers from the penalty spot outwards, so we are not talking about a huge strip of zonal land here. Zonal can encourage the keeper to come more, which can equally be good or bad. The truth is that lots of goals are scored by set pieces and good delivery is hard for anyone - and any system - to defend. Players switching off is switching off, zonal or not. If you defend a lot, you will logically have to defend more set pieces. If you defend more of them, you’ll concede more from them. Concessions from zonal do look awful though, so they may imprint deeper as a negative image on all. I would be lying if I said I thought all Norwich defenders looked comfortable with the current set piece defensive set up however. Money cannot be excluded in the margins of a game either. Many Premier clubs pay high sums for game-changing Plan B subs. A Crouch, Fellaini, Carroll, a set piece specialist (throws, direct free kicks, sharp delivery). We have a good, balanced squad with interchangeable players. We cannot buy top end weapons to sit on the bench ‘just in case’ as others can. As Nash knows, there is no point in Plan B if the odds still favour Plan A (even if ‘pub’ humans like change for change’s sake in the mistaken belief that it must inherently be better). There will be plenty of flaws in a 6/10 strategy and this board is full of some of them. Unfortunately too often the ‘solutions’ are simply anything and everything that the current strategy isn’t. This is easy to prescribe, though it in no way proves that any such change would derive a better outcome. It is Farke and Webber’s raison d’etre, their life’s work to achieve the best outcome, the maximum output from the resources available. Racing a Fiat against a Ferrari takes more than a good driver however. We have a clear identity. A clear methodology and style of play. It is now well-drilled and established in the minds of the players. There is no confusion, no lack of cohesion, no misunderstanding of what is required individually and collectively. The players purchased fit the model well, the players grown and nurtured are well-schooled in what the coach needs and wants to achieve. This has and will create a good ‘floor’ to outcomes. Our clarity and consistency of message should and will ensure that performance levels - over an extended period (including perhaps the Championship) remain above the ‘floor’ level. It would be naive and disingenuous to imagine that no corollary ‘ceiling’ exists under a self-sustaining model however. Over time - in theory - there are no limits to the model, though a 2020 Championship team without Pukki might well not repeat the surprising and wonderful victory of last season. Goals are much harder to replace than anything else - regardless of the elegant construction of any model - and they can cover a multitude of sins. If buying goals is hard, growing them is harder. If the ruthless approach to transfers this season is due to a long-term infrastructure plan that included not only the training ground, but also the stadium itself, this might be a vote-winner. Giving those who earned success a fair chance is fair-minded, though perhaps romantic in professional sport. Providing an educational platform for young, ascending assets should be economically sound and admirably advertises the model to tomorrow’s candidates, though is quite possibly compromising in immediate sporting terms. There is of course an issue with long-term vision and golden promises of jam tomorrow. Like it or not in our Football world there is the Premier League and far, far behind - in media, money, global interest, exposure, excitement - there is everything else. There is no linear progression, football has changed. Money has changed it dramatically. Small teams historically are now strong economic entities with rich (maybe distant) owners, huge historic clubs floundering - despite maintaining gates at turnstiles - because it pales into insignificance versus TV revenues. Conversely you need a bigger stadium out of the Premier League when you no longer have guaranteed demand to fill it and - horribly - you could shut the stadium and show all your games online via Amazon and make a fortune while at the top tier. Our model is a good one, an elegant one, one to be proud of and support, much of it of eternal good sense regardless of means. Though in truth it was born out of necessity, dressed as choice. It is retrospective justification for what needs to be. We would spend more if we had it. We are doing as well as we can - the manager, the players, the sporting team, the board - with what we have. Nash would be proud. Parma
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