Many thanks to Norwich fan Connor Southwell (@cjsouthwell1902) for answering our questions ahead of Saturday’s game. He writes for Canaries fan sites Talk Norwich City and My Football Writer Norwich City.
How’s the season gone for Norwich so far?
It’s been an intriguing season for a multitude of reasons really. The underwhelm and underachievement last season left many supporters feeling apathetic and disconnected from their side. After Alex Neil was sacked, the club rang the changes.
Apart of this change has been adopting a continental footballing structure which essentially saw them get rid of the previously omnipotent chief executive. Stuart Webber came in from Huddersfield to be the Sporting Director and Daniel Farke from BVB II as head coach.
Those two have pleaded for supporters for time amongst a period which has seen them lose four senior players (Dorrans, Howson, Murphy and Pritchard), and this season has been filed amongst one of transition.
As you all know, patience is a word alien to supporters. They all want success and they want it now. Considering the state of the club and scattergun approach, this is an approach which needs more than a season.
That said, Norwich’s home form has been poor, the football implemented by Farke has been boring and the goals have hardly been freeflowing.
It’s felt more positive than last campaign though. Jamal Lewis and James Maddison have progressed through the ranks (although the latter was purchased from Coventry), the bleeding backline has been repaired and Norwich enjoy a better time of it away.
The season is over now though, which some supporters are finding difficult to accept. There is kind of a war of words between those positive about the new structure and those willing to write it off already. So yes, odd.
On the pitch though, Norwich have been painstakingly average.
What do you make of Daniel Farke? Is the right man for the job long term?
I think he is. He’s effectively working within the constraints of a financial straitjacket but the players have warned to him and his philosophy is definitely progressing.
As a coach, his methods are visible, his tactical awareness is excellent but perhaps lack the nods required to propel Norwich this campaign. That infamous 4-0 mauling at Millwall was a huge turning point.
His philosophy leaves a lot to be desired offensively. As I’ve mentioned, he’s steadied a depleted backline which was conceding goals at an alarming rate but Norwich have regressed offensively. He needs to discover a balance and hopefully that will see Norwich become more upwardly mobile.
Supporters have warmed to him. He’s witty and knowledgeable, but talk and implementation is different. His substitutions are late and bemusing at times also.
Not a bad first season, but nothing to write home about.
What’s going right for Norwich now?
In two words; James Maddison.
The boy is the real deal. One of the most talented players to don yellow and green for a while. Whilst I think talk of a £30m price tag is hefty, he is supremely talented and barring any horrific injury, then he will play for England.
The sky is the limit.
The over reliance upon him is a concern. Teams that nullify Maddison seem to nullify Norwich which is evidently a frustration. I’ve not seen a player drop the shoulder in the manner he does. I cannot laud him enough.
I’d say the newfound defensive resilience under Farke, Norwich have lacked an assured and confident rearguard for years but they look a lot better.
They may not score a lot, but with Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmerman and Timm Klose, they won’t concede a lot either. They have looked more comfortable operating in a 3-5-2. If Norwich can achieve balance then I think this side will improve. They’ve shown it against Arsenal, Chelsea and Wolves.
That key word is ‘if’ though.
Anything that could be going better?
The lateral style of football and their ineptitude during offensive phases of play needs to be addressed. It’s a lot of promise without any sort of final product.
An adaptation is also required to the rigours of the league. They have struggled against physical, high pressing teams who restrict the space and condense the pitch. Consistently inconsistent is probably the most apt performance of Norwich’s current state.
They have become mid table fodder this year and that will not work please a large proportion of their fan base who are use to seeing a team challenge for promotion, but those who demanded change must see it through. They have ripped the heart and souls out of the club and to expect promotion seemed fanatical.
Nelson Oliveira’s productivity could be better. One goal in fourteen and has been heavily criticised by his head coach a few times this season. The problem is Norwich sold Cameron Jerome to Derby and his replacement, Dennis Srbeny, hasn’t looked up to standard.
Many would argue Farke’s style of play is difficult to watch. Norwich don’t probe with intent and often rely on a piece of individual quality from Maddison which simply isn’t sustainable.
How do you see the game going, and what will the score be?
It’s been a tough season for Jaap Stam and Reading, he’s probably a good example of someone who’s success has been his downfall. Last time I appeared on these pages I implored Reading to retain him and I’ve surprised fortunes haven’t improved, but this game may be a like for like one in terms of respective styles.
I don’t think Stam will be occupying the home dugout at the Madejski next season, I think the calling of his homeland may be all too tempting. Second season syndrome and then some.
Norwich aren’t good at home however. Five wins in 18 home games paints the full picture, with something like 17 goals scored. Not been good to watch at times. I’m going to sit on the fence and go for a draw, I think it could be compelling for us geeks though, tactically it’ll be compelling I think.
Norwich come into this fixture on the back of a bizarre defeat at Hull and a disappointing point at Barnsley. They are a bit depleted in regards to personnel.
I’ll say a 1-1.
Here’s hoping for a goalfest!!! 7-1 would be nice again