City started on their pre season adventures and Ffion Thomas took a trip all the way to Ireland just so she could write these words for you. Nice, isn't she?
Random star performer
Timmermann. With Russ Martin not quite fit in a squad already light in defence, Timm Klose and Christophe Zimmermann both played the full 90 minutes – surely unheard of for the first game of pre-season – and in their endeavours kept Cobh – a team at full season fitness, remember – extremely quiet. There is potential there for the development of a centre-back partnership the like of which has not been seen in these parts for many years. God knows we need one.
Moment of the match
Midway through the second half, when Stephen Naismith failed to control a pass and reacted by shouting something so rude at the ball that it cannot be repeated on a family-friendly website, but which elicited a good laugh from the City fans and locals watching on from the touchline. To attempt to make a salient point out of this, it is perhaps indicative of a desire to set and maintain high standards, even in the closing stages of an early pre-season kick about with the result already secured. Or, more likely, that Stephen Naismith just has a potty mouth.
A local advised me that this referee is somewhat notorious, as much as one can be in the League of Ireland, for a tendency to declare matches under his jurisdiction as a fiefdom. What appeared to be a personal vendetta against Alex Pritchard, with whom he shared his notably diminutive stature, perhaps provided some evidence of this, but being a friendly there was thankfully both little scope for too much Celebrity Refereeing, and little need to care.
Biggest positive to take
Football is back, hurrah, and we have an effortlessly cool new manager and loads of cool new players (Mario Vrancic has silver hair for god’s sake). Stuart Webber was here, skulking on a corner of the terrace as far away as possible from both the media and the dugout, but watching on intently. This is a structure and system that might take some getting used to, but has lots of exciting potential.
Whinging about pre-season games this early is categorically ridiculous, and so I have no whinges to express. Of course the team isn’t fully there yet in terms of personnel, fitness or tactical instruction, but that’s what the next month is for. Some key losses to the squad appear imminent, but they are entirely surmountable, as long as we continue to act proactively rather than reactively.
A chilled atmosphere with some good-natured ‘we’re going to win 6-5’ type chanting from the Cobh ‘singing section’, which has its own sponsor – eyes up, Steve Stone! A swarm of local youngsters, mainly in the colours of Barcelona, Man United and Liverpool vaulted the perimeter wall at the final whistle, all very good-naturedly, of course: they made a beeline for national hero Wes, who did a sterling job keeping up with all the photo and autograph requests made of him throughout the evening. As always at such exotic and far-flung fixtures the Norwich diaspora were out in force, and a friendly welcome was given to all.
Hats off to Cobh Ramblers who did a highly professional job of hosting; hopefully a few more locals might have been encouraged to make the effort for their bread and butter games. While the result was always a foregone conclusion and not much can be read into tactics at this stage, it was illuminating to be able to stand at close quarters to the dugout and watch Daniel Farke’s communication with the players, switching effortlessly between German – particularly with the Zimm and Timm back line – and English. He wasn’t afraid to demonstrate his frustrations when things didn’t quite come off, nor to dole out praise when they did. There’s still plenty of work to be done in the next month, but this was an encouraging and enjoyable start to the FarkEra of Webberlution.
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