With Christmas fast approaching, Billy Grant caught up with Jon Punt (@puntino) from Norwich blog ‘Along Cone Norwich’ prior to the two teams meeting on Friday night to get the low down on Daniel Farke, Sergi Canos’s hair and possession football.
Other than the Millwall match were you lost 4-0 and the Villa game where you lost 4-2, you seemed to be chugging along OK at the start of the season right up to the Arsenal match. After than it seemed to go tits up (losing to Derby, Wolves, Bolton, Forest, Cardiff, Leeds) – ironically after you beat The Bees in the cup and lost to Arsenal. What has gone wrong since then?
In reality we’d been pretty poor up until the Millwall and Villa defeats. They were the catalyst for change. Out went Marcel Franke and Russell Martin in the centre of defence, in came Timm Klose and a new defensive shield of Trybull/Tettey which definitely helped shore things up.
After that we went on a nine game unbeaten streak, including the League Cup win at your place, which we thought was going to transform our fortunes. During that time Norwich kept five consecutive clean sheets, a club record. However, our recent form has been dreadful. That has coincided with the aforementioned Tettey and Trybull picking up injuries, which has definitely meant we’ve been more fragile at the back. Both are returning to full fitness now and pushing for starting berths. It should be interesting to see how we line up on Friday.
Last time Norwich were in this division – before they went to the Premier League – they were impressive. You have parachute money which puts you in better stead than most teams. In principal, surely you should be able to hold your ground in this division with more cash than most?
Interesting one that. We don’t have the financial power now that many would perceive. We threw away bad money when we were in the Premier League by just trying to stay there. That decision has come back to haunt us. High earners such as Matt Jarvis and Steven Naismith have barely featured and we’ve had to strip it all back this term, selling two of last season’s key men in Jacob Murphy and Jonny Howson. You’d definitely expect us to be competing in the top half though, so right now we’re not exactly punching our weight.
You poached Stuart Webber from Huddersfield in the middle of their run last season. He was credited for pulling together the Terriers team that got promotion. Has he weaved his magic with Norwich?
The jury is still very much out on Stuart Webber. He has been tasked with streamlining things at Carrow Road, meaning we can continue to be a self funding club which is sustainable through development of academy products. Given we don’t have wealthy benefactors, and we’re not on the look out for any (long story), then I guess that’s a necessity.
Webber has definitely ruffled some feathers, trimming out a lot of the backroom staff. However, everything he says when being interviewed makes an awful lot of sense. Credit to the guy, he was made available for interview via various unofficial fanzine sites back in April when he joined and spoke really well. If he can back up his words he’ll be great, but this is a long term project.
You sacked Scottish manager Alex Neil and Webber brought in German manager Daniel Farke. Was he trying to mimic his Huddersfield German influx strategy? Was that a mistake?
I think Webber recognises there is coaching talent in Germany and their styles can lend themselves well to the English game. Farke’s style is much more possession based than Wagner’s gegenpress, bit it’s arguably less entertaining too. However, Farke is starting to learn from some of his early mistakes and in recent weeks there does seem to be much more identity about our play. It’s way too early to judge, and I’d envisage Farke being given well into next season to get things right, unless we become embroiled in a relegation battle.
It can’t be all that bad. You have some good players like James Maddison Josh Murphy, Wes Hoolahan, Nelson Oliviera, Tim Close, Alex Pritchard, Yanic Wildschut. That’s quality in your side. Do you think this team can take you forward or do you need to add to it?
The club have made noises that it’s unlikely there will be signings in January. On the flip side we’re under no pressure to sell. For us I don’t think it’s adding personnel, more finding a balance to the team which will allow us become a more potent attacking force. Alex Pritchard is a huge part of that – his pre-season injury obviously affected Farke’s plans. Pritchard’s play is direct and incisive, with a fair amount of quality to it too. I’m sure you know that from his time at Brentford though!
Sergi Canos has got a point to prove against Norwich. Are you a bit worried that he’ll prove his point on Friday?
A slight worry, but I’m more concerned about the state of his hair! Jokes aside though, it really was a mystery why he wasn’t given more game time here, especially given he went on to perform well for you. He seems like a nice lad and I wish him the best, but here’s hoping he has a stinker on Friday.
Norwich aren’t a long ball side. You like to play the ball on the floor like us. So looks like it is going to be a battle of the midfields. We like to keep hold of possession.We know it’s all about what you do with the possession and we’re obviously not converting enough. How do you see this match panning out?
For me it feels like two mid table sides struggling for goals, so maybe a low scoring affair. However, as much as results haven’t reflected it, we’ve been improving over the last 3 or 4 matches. I can see us nicking the game by an odd goal.
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