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Parma Ham's gone mouldy

Parma’s State of the Nation

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21 hours ago, TeemuVanBasten said:

Filing this under 'To Read'.

I will read it, just looks too much for my tired brain tonight.

I think it is a duplicate of your thread, regretting the dismissal of Farke and observing the recruitment was poor.  

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Excellent thread, thank you.

My only question is what did Brentford do differently on order to be competitive in both Divisions?

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30 minutes ago, Capt. Pants said:

Excellent thread, thank you.

My only question is what did Brentford do differently on order to be competitive in both Divisions?

They kept their best player rather than sell him on promotion for a start. They also paid the money Celtic wanted for Ajer. 

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33 minutes ago, Capt. Pants said:

Excellent thread, thank you.

My only question is what did Brentford do differently on order to be competitive in both Divisions?

They had a manager who could successfully adapt his strategy when they got promoted.

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1 minute ago, By Hook or Ian crook said:

They kept their best player rather than sell him on promotion for a start. They also paid the money Celtic wanted for Ajer. 

I don't think Ajer was key to their survival although Toney to a certain extent was. I was thinking more about style of play.

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1 minute ago, Capt. Pants said:

I don't think Ajer was key to their survival although Toney to a certain extent was. I was thinking more about style of play.

The main thing was that they didn't change their style of play. They kept doing exactly what got them promoted. Arguably their existing style was better suited to the Premier League than ours, but I don't really subscribe to that idea.

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22 hours ago, Robert N. LiM said:

 

this is the crux - added to the Yes Minister-style decision making of "Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it". Realistically all you can do at that stage in the season is roll the dice on the coach.

Certainly in hindsight - and I realise many would argue without hindsight - SW could have really ignored the noise, faced down TalkSport and said "Daniel is our greatest asset. We think the squad's good enough to stay up, but if it's not, he's the guy to bring us back". Whether the fans would have accepted such 'lack of ambition' (quote marks very much deliberate) is another question.

Great post as always, by the way - lots to chew on. Will come back to it, I think.

Totally agree with your point, I'd of defo rather had gone down with DF (we would of been within top three favourites to get relegated any way) and i would still think he would of been the man to led us up, even if we had the same or three less points than right now!  

Football was entertaining and I felt he got us, and the club was as one.

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7 minutes ago, Petriix said:

The main thing was that they didn't change their style of play. They kept doing exactly what got them promoted. Arguably their existing style was better suited to the Premier League than ours, but I don't really subscribe to that idea.

I think they did change their style, but they had a good foundation on the defensive end. In the PL they were often more direct than in the championship, but certainly got better at counter attacking. Even then they had a good start and were starting to drop off before they signed a world class midfielder for free in January.

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7 minutes ago, repman said:

I think they did change their style, but they had a good foundation on the defensive end. In the PL they were often more direct than in the championship, but certainly got better at counter attacking. Even then they had a good start and were starting to drop off before they signed a world class midfielder for free in January.

That was more of a tweak than a fundamental reinvention like we attempted. Of course a promoted team is going to defend more and try to hit teams on the break.

We had a very solid defensive foundation with the structure of the 4-2-3-1. Going 4-3-3 meant we were vulnerable in the wide areas because the wide attackers didn't defend deep enough and we were vulnerable in the centre of midfield beck we didn't have anyone (let alone 2) capable of retaining the required positional discipline.

We also had a very capable, dynamic attack with the three attacking midfielders behind Pukki. Switching to 3 up front meant one less attacking player and no one to create space for Pukki - he's only ever been successful with another striker or a number 10.

What's more, we had an understanding of that system embedded throughout every layer of the club and had just achieved our record points haul. 

I understand the theory that we needed to adapt to the Premier League. People hold up the previous campaign as an absolute reason that it couldn't work, despite some memorable wins, horrendous bits of luck and suffering more than any other club with the empty grounds after lockdown. 

What we all know is what happened when we gambled. Nobody knows how it would have gone had we stuck, but I can't envisage it going worse than it did. Even if we went down, we'd still have kept our soul rather than ripping it out. 

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4 minutes ago, Petriix said:

That was more of a tweak than a fundamental reinvention like we attempted. Of course a promoted team is going to defend more and try to hit teams on the break.

We had a very solid defensive foundation with the structure of the 4-2-3-1. Going 4-3-3 meant we were vulnerable in the wide areas because the wide attackers didn't defend deep enough and we were vulnerable in the centre of midfield beck we didn't have anyone (let alone 2) capable of retaining the required positional discipline.

We also had a very capable, dynamic attack with the three attacking midfielders behind Pukki. Switching to 3 up front meant one less attacking player and no one to create space for Pukki - he's only ever been successful with another striker or a number 10.

What's more, we had an understanding of that system embedded throughout every layer of the club and had just achieved our record points haul. 

I understand the theory that we needed to adapt to the Premier League. People hold up the previous campaign as an absolute reason that it couldn't work, despite some memorable wins, horrendous bits of luck and suffering more than any other club with the empty grounds after lockdown. 

What we all know is what happened when we gambled. Nobody knows how it would have gone had we stuck, but I can't envisage it going worse than it did. Even if we went down, we'd still have kept our soul rather than ripping it out. 

We were never defensively solid under Farke. I don't want to start going on about xG but I think it reinforces the point pretty well.

Our xG against in both our promotion seasons:
18/19: 47.5
20/21: 52.0

That's averaging over 1 xG against a game.

Then when you look at some of the sides who have stayed up in those years since:

Sheff U 18/19: 42.3
Leeds 19/20: 37.6
Brentford 20/21: 39.4
 

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2 hours ago, Capt. Pants said:

Excellent thread, thank you.

My only question is what did Brentford do differently on order to be competitive in both Divisions?

I think it’s about how you cut a limited cake. Where and which risks you take. 

It is also - absolutely certainly - about understanding weapons. Plus a bit of old-fashioned ‘both boxes’ (often connected with weapons).

In short we felt our squad was too thin, that we had very limited cover, that we needed a broader spread of better players. 

This led - in my opinion - to a much higher average, though conversely with much lower peaks. 

Brentford - more after my own autistic mindset - made the calculation that staying up was unlikely, and that having lots of very good, but not good enough players changed nothing. 
 

I suspect they further believed that if it was just about running hard, tackling more, chasing pigeons, being gritty, that players with certain mindsets (and possibly limited ability) could step into these roles. 

Thus - in very basic terms - they do everything to keep Toney, then throw everything they can find at attracting Eriksen. Two clear weapons. The rest will have to find a way (with some coaching and inspiration). 

We conversely sell Buendia, do not end up with Skipp and do end up with a comparatively huge wage bill of much better-on-average players, though no weapons (and Pukki our half weapon neutered)

You can pay 20 players £50k a week or you can cut that cake for bigger slices for Toney and Eriksen and tell the others to suck up their paltry earnings and ‘run harder for the stars that keep you in a job’ 

Penalties, free kicks, set piece goals, players with ‘special teams’ skills that opposition coaches are forced to compromise their own ideal shape and system (somewhat) for, are Weapons.

If you threaten a little more, you defend a little less. The less you defend, the less mistakes you typically make. You cannot ‘attack’ as such (nearly everyone is better than you), though you can - and must - rather covertly threaten something. 
 

They did. We didn’t. 
 

Caveat: luck does come into it quite a lot more than people admit. The timing of good and bad luck against you matters (at the bottom). The timing of your own quality moments matters, where and when they occur. The fixture list matters. Injuries - particularly to whom - are massive.

I would argue that Brentford were right to risk more (including injuries and high spend on very few stars and-Or weapons) because we were both unlikely to be good enough anyway. 

They gave themselves a fair outside chance, we - really - were making longer term investment purchases as we saw it. 

I think the odds - and the way the Premier is structured - greatly favoured the Brentford approach. Our more ISO:9001 gradual continuous improvement idea does not reflect the actualité of the Premier, its finances and its sporting hurdles. 

Unless of course you ‘ignored the noise’ and stuck with Farke. 

Parma 

Edited by Parma Ham's gone mouldy
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28 minutes ago, Parma Ham's gone mouldy said:

 


Unless of course you ‘ignored the noise’ and stuck with Farke. 

Parma 

Too few of us could see that truth, unfortunately.

Now there's  just the price to pay.

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If we had a model, we should have stuck with it. I blame both Farke (for changing the playing system) and Webber (for losing his nerve). I think we all knew that what we needed to do was replace Buendia and Skipp. We had £50m to do that with yet chose to buy several players rather than two or three. A huge mistake. Something which people get sacked for.

I think they really believed that Gilmour was going to be the shining light and that Kabak and Normann would athleticise us to victories. Adding in the others like Sargent and Tzolis for future profit was almost the icing on the cake. To cap it all, the players who were bought were completely mis-managed. Ignore the noise, they said - then they didn't.

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This is a good read and made more interesting because we are all so passionate about the club . Farke overwhelming the championship was something we acknowledged at the time as once (twice!) in a lifetime . 

Not overwhelming the Prem teams and looking shockingly weak out of possession made us need to alter pretty much everything . No other team seemed to have to completely change their shape and focus , and as a result we failed to a greater extent than most other promoted teams . 
 

Smith doesn't need to be as pragmatic . His shape (and personnel) makes the most basic defensive set up of “making play predictable” easy for the opposition. In the second half last night QPR left us passing in front and occasionally down the side of their shape and overloaded either side . The warm applause of the 40m pass across the pitch just gives the defensive players time to get across the pitch. 
 

If we sat in the stands know where the passes are going to be played , then so does a team of professional coaches . 
 

The “model” of self funding isn’t a model. It’s a necessity given our funding . It has taken a few years for this to be accepted by the incumbents (as well as other factors) but at last the need to seek alternatives has resulted in the American involvement . 
 

Unfortunately the Americans may have turned up too late , or rather the acceptance that they were needed . The first relegation was painful but had a covid sugar coating . The second relegation was torture that many fans and City dwellers have not been able to recover from. 
 

Great piece Parma . Enjoyed  reading it but equally leaves me feeling very sad indeed that our stubborn owners woke up to reality two years too late. 
 

 

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4 hours ago, TeemuVanBasten said:
 
Don't no where we're going,
Got no way of knowing,
Driving on the road to nowhere
Sponging for a living,
Checking out the teabags,
Riding on the road to nowhere
And we don't take sh*t from anyone,
All we wanna do is have some fun
We're Smithy and Shakey,
Shakey and Smithy
And best of all we don't play Sargent up front!

So where do we go from here, is it down to the lake I fear...

Or are we on the road to Hell?

Life is so strange when you don't know

How can you tell where you're going to

You can't be sure of any situation

Something could change and then you won't know

Ask yourself 

Where do we go from here 

It seems all to near 

Just as far beyond as I can see 

I still don't know what this all means to me 

Destination unknown.

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@Parma Ham's gone mouldy - yes, I very much largely agree and have even suggested sentiments along these lines, though broken up and in a gazillion different threads.

I mentioned previously that I felt Smith was brought in to make us harder to beat. I don't think it's unfair to suggest that like a boxer that starts in a weight division they easily outclass, when stepping it up a division we were found to have a bit of a glass jaw.

If you subscribe to the idea that we have a "ceiling" - I'm still not convinced it isn't doable, it just takes a lot more things to line up for us than teams that can throw cash at it until it sticks. Then in theory, it doesn't matter who you have in charge, what kind of football, that ceiling will still exist.

I have also said previously that I wondered with Farke, what we had was a head coach who knew how to win the championship but didn't know how to transition a team to the premier league.

As you say, going from being used to winning in one league to having to be play much tighter in the other. It's admirable to chase it that way but I do wonder if a more flexible/balanced approach is better.

I have also wondered what the ratio was for winning the championship and staying in the prem for at least two seasons in a row Vs finishing 2nd of play off finalists and doing the same.

Shef Utd, for example, managed two seasons. Villa are still there. Equally, Leeds won it and are also still there. Brighton finished 2nd to Newcastle - both still there.

As such, is it possible to be so well set up to do well in the championship that trying to go from that to competitive in one summer without huge amounts of money is actually an incredibly huge task for anyone?

Again I cast my mind back to Lambert's side and how better balanced that was in that they could do both in the same game. Rugged hard work mixed in with the talent that Hoolahan had along with Pilkington, Holt, Fox etc? We also came incredibly close under Worthington which was set on a basis of an incredibly defensively mean Division 1 team that had Huckerby added as the "weapon" followed by Dean Ashton (if you look at that season, we actually drew too many games rather than lost too many, two points would have been enough, one draw into a win).

Which then begs the question. If we suggest we should have kept with Farke, are we saying we would genuinely have taken another season of relegation with him just because we feel he could repeat previous feats at this level?

If I am honest, as much as I did not want Farke to go, sometimes you have to change something to see if it could work. With Buendia gone, and his record without him not amazing, I'm not so convinced that we could be the same force in the championship that we were. Would we still have that identity? Would patience be wearing thin with it? Would we be doing as well or better?

Lastly, I feel we changed away from that style before Farke departed. We abandoned it somewhere over the summer. We certainly did not deploy the 4-2-3-1 that had frequently done us so well for the majority of those 11 games. In fact, I argued at the time I thought it was a mistake not to go into those fist four games with a system the players who had been here for at least a season were familiar with. Familiarity Vs not great odds at least means people know what they should be doing. Deploying a new system and formation for the first time in a competitive match Vs teams that will put it under the most amount of pressure is not a good way of a team adapting to it. 

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2 hours ago, sgncfc said:

If we had a model, we should have stuck with it. I blame both Farke (for changing the playing system) and Webber (for losing his nerve). I think we all knew that what we needed to do was replace Buendia and Skipp. We had £50m to do that with yet chose to buy several players rather than two or three. A huge mistake. Something which people get sacked for.

I think they really believed that Gilmour was going to be the shining light and that Kabak and Normann would athleticise us to victories. Adding in the others like Sargent and Tzolis for future profit was almost the icing on the cake. To cap it all, the players who were bought were completely mis-managed. Ignore the noise, they said - then they didn't.

This is all evidently not correct though really.

We were in a position where we were going to lose members of our squad due to age. As touched on a number of times, people have argued we should have kept on some of the players we allowed to leave either for sales or loans, and used them as squad depth and spent more on fewer players.

Realistically, we know we were throwing out £10-15m offers for players like Ajer, Billing, Armstrong etc. We even went for Josh King and Cahill but couldn't draw wages wise. There were others we missed out on to, that we hoped to land.

This ultimately led us to changing strategies and having to go with more, cheaper players who represented bigger gambles as such but with more of them - spread betting as such.

If I am really honest, I think we tried to change too much, too soon. Tried to move to a more pragmatic model with a defensive aspect of the squad still not really good enough. As in, how the whole team played defensively. We brought in essentially an entire new midfield to add to McLean and Sorensen - the latter hardly being a centrepin to our regular squads the season before. That is a lot to put on players, one who was young and had the pressure of a contract that essentially made him play, one who had never played outside of France and another who looked great but never really delivered on a consistent basis and was far less combative than he himself claimed to be.

I can't help but think what those players would have looked like had we stuck with a 4-2-3-1 from the start. Even better if we had kept Hernandez to help with the width and possibly Vrancic to offer another option in the No.10 middle of that three role. 

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Great thread thanks @Parma Ham's gone mouldy the question I have is if we somehow do manage to make it up this year (probably through the playoffs, if at all) what happens next? I can't think of a positive scenario even if we do get promoted. Is purgatory the best we can hope for?

Edited by Taiwan Canary

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5 hours ago, Taiwan Canary said:

Great thread thanks @Parma Ham's gone mouldy the question I have is if we somehow do manage to make it up this year (probably through the playoffs, if at all) what happens next? I can't think of a positive scenario even if we do get promoted. Is purgatory the best we can hope for?

We have the ‘spread bet’ squad that @chickentalks about. We have no weapons. 

Pukki will find a way to score some goals (as an aside I suspect he will leave unless we are looking very dominant and likely to go up), we won’t have vast resources to improve or buy weapons. 

We had Buendia, we had Skipp in the building, we had c£30m of Rashica-Tzolis-Sargent money. 

Brentford risked injuries, threw it all at keeping Toney, getting-persuading Eriksen, got the rest to run hard (and expect less money than some. As we have noted before, it is not paying Beckham that hurts you, it is paying everyone half as good as Beckham half as much).

So no, due to lack of weapons in the building, plus an inability to buy them, I think there is zero chance of survival in the here-and-now. Should promotion occur, which I think is not now hugely likely as the overall ‘feeling’ is currently wrong on multiple sporting and off-field levels. 

One wild card that might offer a ray of light - for survival chances at least - is whether Attanasio would seize the limelight-attention-moment and ride across the prairie with saddlebags of gold upon such a promotion. 

Even under this scenario it is rather - again - ‘solving yesterday’s problems’ as we don’t have the weapons and peaks we had before (and lost). 

I would be rather watching through my fingers if he got insta-burnt by football so early ‘doing a Fulham’ as an excited newbie. 

We needed a bit of his money to keep Buendia, retain Skipp and buy one more weapon.

But that was then. 
 

Parma 

Edited by Parma Ham's gone mouldy
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16 hours ago, Petriix said:

The main thing was that they didn't change their style of play. They kept doing exactly what got them promoted. Arguably their existing style was better suited to the Premier League than ours, but I don't really subscribe to that idea.

I'd agree - although the playing styles aren't a million miles apart to be fair.  Or at least the styles we got promoted with last time. Brentford played some lovely stuff under Frank that season.

For me the difference was that in Toney they had the physical forward presence that we didn't (for all of Teemu's other virtues) which offers Plan B options of going slightly longer or delivering from wider without the certainty of the ball coming straight back.  And their midfield and wide(ish) players like Mbeumo were more direct, physical and pacey than our wide men / midfield have been historically and so quicker in transition / on the counter. 

So whilst we were able to unpick deep-lying defences at Championship level by starting our intricate ball players higher up the pitch this isn't the case in the Premiership and consequently we aren't as effective as Brentford have been at the higher level where we see less of the ball. 

I think this is part of the motivation behind the (Buendia out, Sargent, Rashica and Tzolis in) decision to go 4-3-3 last season.  But I'd agree that the baby was probably thrown out with the bathwater on that one given that we appeared to sign two wide attackers who didn't offer express pace, couldn't reliably beat a man, didn't seem able to deliver a cross or create and didn't have anyone to aim at who was likely to win a header in the centre anyway. 

When coupled with the fact that they were defensive liabilities and the central midfield recruitment could neither protect the back four or get the ball up to the front three with any degree of accuracy you begin to get a sense of where it might have gone wrong ...  Oh yes, and they signed Eriksen who was just ridiculously good for a team at their level !

Edited by Barham Blitz
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There is a significant problem with Parma’s analysis. I suspect much of it is correct. That said, a few comments.

I understand the slim squad+weapon argument.  I know that Buendia per se is or was not essential to it. Only someone with that dangerous creativity. And I get the notion of having a dominant player to look up to. An ex-Man United player explained recently that even when Roy Keane’s form fell away the rest of the team still performed 10 per cent better just because he was on the pitch. And I have seen Milan players say it about Ibrahimovic even though he is 40 and only watching from the bench. I should say I don’t see Buendia having quite that kind of galvanising effect. The only player in our history I can think of who might have done was Martin Peters.

But one can say two things with certainty about that summer. That Buendia not only wanted a move to a supposedly bigger club but regarded Norwich City as owing him that. Secondly, that if we had refused he would have been very angry.

What is unknowable how that anger would have translated into action. Whether he would have sworn in Spanish and then knuckled down and played brilliantly or refused even to train, let alone play. Or somewhere in between those extremes. But the management team probably felt it could not take the risk of it being towards the latter end. And that is without taking account of the fact that selling Buendia would increase the otherwise modest transfer pot by tens of millions of pounds.

But irrespective of that outcome, I struggle with the slim squad+weapon concept, relying as it does on the hope of few injuries. In terms of experience/size we must in theory have one of the most adaptable squads in the Championship. Yet already Smith has had to play a right-footer at left-back, and also a midfielder, and until recently been without an experienced central defensive midfielder.

There is rarely unanimity on this board but if Farke had been forced to play people out of position in that way in the Premier League, and to make up the squad with untried youngsters, then the strategy that had led to that would have been condemned on all sides. If Brentford got away with it then they were lucky. Deserving of that luck? The Las Vegas answer would be that they got away with it so, yes, they deserved it.

As for Attanasio, I suspect his arrival (although perhaps not the specific £10m) is not so directly linked to the current awkward-looking financial position* More to a realisation from some time back that self-funding was becoming increasingly difficult to sustain, as Bowkett warned a decade ago. That was after S&J charged him with looking for investment, and I believe there were moves more recently. The wooing of Attanasio has probably taken a while, and came to fruition in part because of Foulger’s desire to sell his shares.

Are we now in a hellishly difficult cycle of trying to find answers to the questions of the previous season or even trying to second-guess those of the next one? Yes. Business plans are tricky enough to devise in a Footsie-100 company. For a football club yo-yoing between two divisions with income differences of many millions of pounds and with the customer base ready to pounce on any sign of a lack of ambition it becomes close to impossible.

*Jim Smith, bless him, had for years demanded an oxymoronic “calculated gamble”. Seems someone at Carrow Road finally cracked…😍

 

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7 hours ago, BigFish said:

And now @Parma Ham's gone mouldy? Promotion may not be nailed on or even probable but is definitly possible so what do we do from here?

As the Irishman said when a motorist asked him for directions  "ah well, if I was going there I wouldn't be starting from here ...

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On 04/11/2022 at 08:04, BigFish said:

And now @Parma Ham's gone mouldy? Promotion may not be nailed on or even probable but is definitly possible so what do we do from here?

So. Let’s have a go @BigFish ….🤗

@ron obvious‘s joke has much truth, plus @PurpleCanary’s piece is certainly the fully noted counterpoint that I entirely accept. 

I think what we will do, is close to what we can do, is near to what we must do.

In the short term the opportunity has passed. I described it proctor hoc as a ‘Shakespearean fulcrum’ moment. The point  where the action dramatically pivots on a seemingly small detail or single event.

We chose the spread bet squad, we chose to get rid of Farke, we chose to sell Buendia ( @PurpleCanary we will have to respectfully completely disagree on that point. Even Farke said ‘we chose to sell Buendia’. As for ‘Gentleman’s agreements’ in football, well for one as pragmatic, empirical and Machiavellian as you I find your adherence to that view unlikely…🤣🥰. Webber simply thought he could repeat his Buendia-Pukki triumph. He hasn’t. Nor do many frankly).

So we await the wheel to come full circle. We need to luck into a weapon or breed one. Cantwell can occasionally be weaponish, though I do not think his character will sustain such levels consistently. I hope to be proved wrong. 

We must gradually come to a realisation that we must jump the championship hurdle in front of us, rather than the premier hurdle to come. 

Farke made us better than this level, fragile and exposed at the next. So be it. Some form of doing different in the second tier will need to occur to avoid the perennial lottery of Premier-lite sides scrapping about randomly. This might be us occasionally, though it generally has a Pukki, a defensive midfield pivot, some grimy centre backs and a goalkeeper that doesn’t do stupid things. I suppose minus a hangover we have that of sorts. Though no one much appears to really believe it. Whilst typical, It’s certainly not a modus operandi that Guardiola would take much notice of. 

So we trundle along. Stop buying Plachetas and Dowells, promote a few more academy players to fill 16-24 shirt-numbered holes. Buy an occasional player when one leaves or a gaping hole is evident. We won’t pay them much and they won’t much want to come here. 

Though I imagine Attanasio might now get an occasional call if a Huckerby genuinely wants to move his family here. Or a Buendia needs more pocket money. Or a Skipp needs a trip to Vegas in a private jet. Then the sustainable model must be bypassed for some American soccer money. 

As for Smith. What do you want me to say? Nothing you don’t already know. He knows the game. He plays the basic odds reasonably well. He has a wider squad so he makes more changes. They are much of muchness so ‘fresh legs’ generally works a bit (which it didn’t for Farke, because fresh wasn’t as good - or as honed in positional play - as the tired legs already on the pitch. There is the evidence of what I’ll call the @PurpleCanary compromise-risk-flaw for you 🥰)

But nobody much cares about him. And he doesn’t much care about us. It was a rebound love affair on both sides. We both needed to polish our false beliefs for a bit. Now we know better. 

Webber will continue to do what he is doing. Perhaps a little less sure that he has the Buendia-Pukki Midas touch. So will delegate more and create a structure that doesn’t need him, though much in his own image. Popping up in the marketplace occasionally to get a pay rise and strengthen his grip while here. He might stick around if Attanasio has shown him something interesting in his sweetie drawer. 

I suspect such Shakespearean Fulcrum moments would be better recognised and managed next time. I think Webber was riding the tail of his own comet and was simply not prepared to accept any Norwich ceiling (acceptable), though also was desperate to show his Midas touch was real in case Barca were watching (not so acceptable). Like players you need the individual’s drivers to align with wider team-club drivers. Not sure they did at that key moment. 

Farke may well have been a little passive in all that as @Monty13 surmised. He certainly paid a price, though I think we paid even higher.

These sliding doors moments simply do not have to occur. There is no inevitability to them. Maddison-Buendia-Pukki is real luxury. Good players come and go, even sometimes for good money like Godfrey and Lewis. Though whilst you can reasonably comfortably sell ‘good’ players and retain competitiveness, a club like Norwich definitely can’t sell Buendia weapons and retain momentum and belief in the players left behind. Buendias bring limelight and bigger paycheques for all. 

Whether Weapons are arseholes or not, this is nothing if not common in football. Players like success. They know a weapon when they see one. They also know whether they are one or not. Without one they are all journeymen like Smith.

So soon enough we must play Rowe, Tomkinson, Springett, Idah, Sargent, Tzolis, Gibbs, Nunez, Sara, Gunn and hope we can borrow Hayden, Ramsey and some of their mates if they can persuade them.  
 

The wage bill will say goodbye to Pukki, Cantwell, Onel, Rashica if we can, Tzolis if he does really well, likely Krul, Dowell and others with deals running out. 

What does that look like? Much as we have seen, a fairly dreary descent into mid-table drudgery with occasional glimpses of what was and what could be. 

What can we do about it? Not much. Though - in due course - Attanasio will stop the autistic adherence to self-sustainability allowing for rules to be broken and emergency safety-nets to be put in place to retain weapons upon promotion and to ensure that small boats are pushed a little towards ‘out’ in those Huckerby-Crouch-Forster-Buendia-Skipp moments. 

Sorry @BigFish old sport. That’s the best I can do.

Parma 

post script: Wait! @BigFish I have thought of something! Whilst I was going through a seamlessly well put together collection of musical photos on the book of faces, I realised how attractive my ex* really was…

….’Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling….’ 🍀…n’est-pas @wcorkcanary?…🤗

*as Sporting Director? (I couldn’t bear to lose him again ❤️)

Edited by Parma Ham's gone mouldy
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28 minutes ago, PurpleCanary said:

There is a significant problem with Parma’s analysis. I suspect much of it is correct. That said, a few comments.

I understand the slim squad+weapon argument.  I know that Buendia per se is or was not essential to it. Only someone with that dangerous creativity. And I get the notion of having a dominant player to look up to. An ex-Man United player explained recently that even when Roy Keane’s form fell away the rest of the team still performed 10 per cent better just because he was on the pitch. And I have seen Milan players say it about Ibrahimovic even though he is 40 and only watching from the bench. I should say I don’t see Buendia having quite that kind of galvanising effect. The only player in our history I can think of who might have done was Martin Peters.

But one can say two things with certainty about that summer. That Buendia not only wanted a move to a supposedly bigger club but regarded Norwich City as owing him that. Secondly, that if we had refused he would have been very angry.

What is unknowable how that anger would have translated into action. Whether he would have sworn in Spanish and then knuckled down and played brilliantly or refused even to train, let alone play. Or somewhere in between those extremes. But the management team probably felt it could not take the risk of it being towards the latter end. And that is without taking account of the fact that selling Buendia would increase the otherwise modest transfer pot by tens of millions of pounds.

But irrespective of that outcome, I struggle with the slim squad+weapon concept, relying as it does on the hope of few injuries. In terms of experience/size we must in theory have one of the most adaptable squads in the Championship. Yet already Smith has had to play a right-footer at left-back, and also a midfielder, and until recently been without an experienced central defensive midfielder.

There is rarely unanimity on this board but if Farke had been forced to play people out of position in that way in the Premier League, and to make up the squad with untried youngsters, then the strategy that had led to that would have been condemned on all sides. If Brentford got away with it then they were lucky. Deserving of that luck? The Las Vegas answer would be that they got away with it so, yes, they deserved it.

As for Attanasio, I suspect his arrival (although perhaps not the specific £10m) is not so directly linked to the current awkward-looking financial position* More to a realisation from some time back that self-funding was becoming increasingly difficult to sustain, as Bowkett warned a decade ago. That was after S&J charged him with looking for investment, and I believe there were moves more recently. The wooing of Attanasio has probably taken a while, and came to fruition in part because of Foulger’s desire to sell his shares.

Are we now in a hellishly difficult cycle of trying to find answers to the questions of the previous season or even trying to second-guess those of the next one? Yes. Business plans are tricky enough to devise in a Footsie-100 company. For a football club yo-yoing between two divisions with income differences of many millions of pounds and with the customer base ready to pounce on any sign of a lack of ambition it becomes close to impossible.

*Jim Smith, bless him, had for years demanded an oxymoronic “calculated gamble”. Seems someone at Carrow Road finally cracked…😍

 

The problem with counter factuals is always you know what happened, while what could have happened will always be hypothetical. We know we failed last year, but the alternative outcomes with alternative strategies remain supposition. If I understand the key to @Parma Ham's gone mouldy's argument is that in all strategies the probable outcome is relegation. I think the arrival of Attanasio is unrelated, old father time is bringing to an end the current era of ownership/model and Foulger was the catalyst. The question was not one of which model would lead to an improbable outcome, it was how do major shareholders exit a non-dividend paying minority investment. Not an easy sell. I am quite taken with the smaller squad of better players argument, if only because I am tired of spreading the money thinly and still struggling. However I know if we go down that route the usual suspects will be complaining that we don't have a third specialist left back of a fifth specialist centre back (all experienced and EPL standard). Additionally, Buendia hasn't exactly pulled up any trees since he left so there is the added risk that your weapons don't actually turn out to be weapons.

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Excellent thread & synopsis Parma. And all of this leaves me very sad, something has gone including my feelings & it feels a bit empty now.

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