Norwich go German in hunt for Premier league return - Interview
Tuesday, 15th Aug 2017 13:50 by Clive Whittingham
Ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Norwich we catch up with journo Connor Southwell to discuss the club’s Huddersfield-style revolution over the summer and slightly sluggish start to the new season.
Why is this season going to be different from last?
CS: This season poses an altogether different challenge from the last campaign. Under Alex Neil, the target was to gain promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, however, after the disappointment of last campaign, expectations have decreased and fans seem more open minded to the changes with have been happening at the club. I’d say a top ten finish would be received more positively than last campaign. Hopefully, we can push beyond and find a route to promotion.
CS: The biggest news in terms of departures was the sales of Jacob Murphy and Jonny Howson who let for the North East for relatively big bucks, but also the releasing of several key players, including John Ruddy and Ryan Bennett, who were on unjustifiably high wages in all honesty. As for arrivals, we’ve recruited predominately from Germany, with the likes of Marcel Franke and Christoph Zimmermann coming in from the Bundesliga 2 and Borussia Dortmund II. We’ve made nine signings in total and the player turnover has been higher than any Championship club.
In regards of deals to come, I think the club are still actively recruiting a centre back, with Sean Raggett and Toni Leistner of Lincoln and Union Berlin being the most mentioned names, hopefully we can let go off a few fringe players but I’m hoping Oliveira stays. Time will tell.
CS: The appointment of Daniel Farke was greatly received, the final ten games under Alan Irvine dragged and freshness was needed. Farke is our first foreign coach and on the whole that’s been received with positivity and open mindedness which is really pleasing, especially considering the disconnect many fans felt last campaign. Farke has struck me as a really intelligent and switched on coach, especially his handling of the Oliveira situation, so early signs are positive. Long may it continue.
Stuart Webber has arrived from Huddersfield as sporting director (glossy title for director of football) and seems to have brought a ruthless sword with him. His honesty alongside eagerness to involve the local media has been really well received by Norwich fans. Long may it continue.
Farke has started our last two games against Fulham and Sunderland in a 3-5-2 formation, operating with wing backs and a defensive midfielder. The focus on possession is almost religious and we look to pass teams of the pitch. Despite some positive performances, we’re yet to win a game and the Sunderland defeat was undoubtedly frustrating, but I’ve still got a good feeling about the new regime.
Offensively we look quite one dimensional, it’s hard to say this early on, but on our day I believe we have the quality to beat anyone, but we need to prove that on the pitch.
CS: That looks likely. Oliveira has come back from a club suspension following his behaviour at Craven Cottage and the feeling is he is a much better operator than Jerome. I think it would be a safe bet to expect him to start, especially since Jerome has failed to register a league goal thus far.
That said however, Farke seems to prefer Jerome in his system with Oliveira seen as an option from the bench. I would argue Oliveira is a more complete forward and I sincerely hope he starts, he’s eccentric and quite temperamental but a special talent.
CS: Strengths: On the ball, when we have possession we have players who can really penetrate opposing defences. We scored the joint highest amount of goals last campaign, so hopefully we can bring that into this campaign, although we’ve not looked as free flowing.
Weaknesses: Defensively we are weak. It doesn’t matter who you put in defence, we seemingly cannot carry out the basics. Set pieces are particularly dangerous for us, hopefully we are a much more solid outfit when QPR come to Carrow Road.
Confident of a promotion push second time around? Any financial consequences if you don’t manage it?
CS: Optimistic perhaps more than confident. A lot has changed so I’m expecting a fairly slow start from us and that’s been received with a loss and a draw from our opening two games. This season is definitely going to be a learning curve for us and hopefully we can challenge the playoffs. We’ll see.
It’s vitally important we achieve promotion in regards to our finances. We are a self-financed club and don’t have the richest owners in Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones but definitely the most passionate and loyal. We are in our last season of parachute payments and the sale of Howson helped us fill a hole of £6m from an overdraft. So it’s going to be tough if we don’t achieve promotion, especially considering our wage bill is substantial.
The Twitter @cjsouthwell1902, @NorwichCityMFW, @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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