Pre-season optimism has been replaced by anger among a vocal minority already keen for yet more change. Jon Punt doses the fire with a nice cold dose of common sense. Patience was asked for, patience now needs to be given. Rome wasn't built in a day. Good things come to those who wait. Etc etc.
Regular readers of my inane witterings (love you mum) may recall I'm a positive person when it comes to all things Norwich City. Pacing round the kitchen at 3-0 on Saturday, I'd managed to convince myself if Norwich could nick one, our fortunes might turn. We may nick a point, stranger things have happened, right?
Well, no. Of course we didn't. This is Norwich City and those kind of comebacks are reserved for sides with a semblance of passion and leadership. Read any report you like from even the most happy clapping blogger or journo and it's clear Norwich's no show at The Den was catastrophic and lacked those qualities. Fans were right to question the fact there have been no visible signs of progression since Fulham. That day at Craven Cottage, Oliveria’s over exuberance apart, everything was positive.
The level of regression which has followed is worryingly familiar. The basics of defending a long ball haven’t been grasped by Farke’s new charges at all, while a lack of steel in midfield has meant there is little protection for a backline devoid of confidence.
We’ve been here before. Those same criticisms have been levelled at every Norwich side in recent years. The hopeless nostalgists will inevitably now harp back to the good old days under Lambert and McNally, where a clear identity and strategy seemed to be in place. Lower league talent, eager and willing to fight their way up the leagues, were the order of the day.
Much like that era, a long term plan is at least in place now, much as some may not like it. Gone are the days of focussing purely on Premier League prize money to inject new life into a stale and stagnant organisation. Criticise it if you will, but within the higher echelons of the club the realisation that Norwich will not prosper without proper and prudent planning has taken hold. A team of Webber and Farke was their preferred route, and on the face of it, everyone was in wholesale agreement.
Supporters pleaded for change. They got it. They asked for heads to roll, especially the likes of Ricky Martin and Lee Darnbrough. They got it. They wanted the failing or absent figures of Bassong, Bennett and Turner to be replaced. They got it.
Like it or not, a root and stem style transformation has begun and we all accepted the initial results may not be pretty. The club’s PR machine has been at pains to stress this across the summer, hyping up the new regime more successfully than a Mayweather megafight, yet underlining the need for patience and positivity while the style and substance were being worked on. For the vocal minority, that patience was eroded during a painstaking 28 first half minutes in South East London yet the direction will not change, we need to get used to that.
The decision to appoint Webber, then Farke, was not borne out of a desire to adopt a fashionable footballing model. It was taken with the considered realisation that what Norwich had been doing for years was quickly becoming unfit for purpose. Bad money had been thrown at bad players for too long, many stealing a living from the club while warming a bench or two during the season. Those days are over.
Finances dictate Norwich have to nurture their young talent while being more effective and creative in the transfer market. The staff selected to undertake this mammoth ask may just the requisite credentials to do just that, but it will take time, a little bit of luck and some ruthlessness. The alternative was to carry on as they had been doing, readily accepting how that may leave the balance sheets looking in a few years time. Financial oblivion was, and potentially remains, a real possibility.
Of course Norwich have to be better. Of course the weekend’s performance was shameful. You’ll have read many articles by more skilled wordsmiths than me that tell you as much. It’s easy to get lost in the perceived hopelessness of the situation when your team has been royally gubbed by a side widely expected to battle relegation this term. What’s more difficult is to afford the coaching staff and players the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
The club know where they’ve gone wrong, both during this weekend and over the last few years. The penny may have dropped already. Links to Grant Hanley and Aden Flint could be an early recognition of our defensive frailties or lazy journalistic talk prior to some metaphorical slamming of the transfer window on Jim White’s flaccid penis. Whatever it is, some commenters’ thoughts that the club will be resting on their laurels screams of the same naivety many are accusing Webber and Farke of. Let them get on and fix it, just don’t expect the results to be instantaneously remarkable as we all hope.
It’s undeniable the learning curve for Farke is steeper than many of us imagined, but his appointment was with the longer term in mind. He’s done nothing to earn our trust as yet, short of a few intelligent and witty observations. Yet he’s Webber’s preferred man and that fact won’t change in the face of one or two away day capitulations. He’s also been left with injuries to key personnel, while trying to nurse Ivo Pinto and Wes Hoolahan back to full fitness, all in the pressure cooker of first team football.
We have to reconcile the situation in our own minds, and bring our support for the club to the Carra on 9th September, because they need it more than your current levels of anger.