Paddy Davitt: Why Daniel Farke has fulfilled his brief at Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 08:57 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:12 12 September 2019
Daniel Farke's heart may have skipped a beat or two as Max Aarons lay prone on the turf but to have three Norwich City youngsters on the pitch for the Young Lions was the fulfilment of his brief.
Farke has been tasked with developing young talent at Carrow Road. In part a policy borne from financial necessity but also because under Stuart Webber's guidance Norwich City sought to embark on a new path.
To be different. Not to run with the crowd. Not to slavishly fixate on financial figures, spiralling transfer fees and salaries, or even solely results on the pitch.
Rather to embed a culture, to develop a philosophy and trust the process will produce the required end product.
For three of the current Canaries' crop to be at the sharp end in England Under-21s' 2-0 European Championship qualifying win over their Kosovo counterparts was frankly remarkable.
More so when you consider what Farke inherited in 2017. James Maddison was deemed too high risk by Alex Neil, despite arriving on his watch when he moved from Coventry City in what at the time appeared an astute move to head off reported interest from Tottenham and Liverpool.
Yet his new head coach blocked any attempts at further loan moves after his earlier spell north of the border at Aberdeen.
That, allied to Jamal Lewis' fast-track promotion from the development pool during the German's first pre-season in Norfolk, illustrated under Farke things were never going to be the same again.
The way Aarons, Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell have been blooded and trusted - even in the rarefied air of the Premier League - is entirely consistent with why Farke was always Webber's number one choice. He understands the financial argument but he literally embodies the football dimension.
Maddison had to be sold to plug the perilous gaps in the coffers left by the end of Premier League parachute payments from the last top flight tilt. Farke would dearly have loved to keep the attacking midfielder a bit longer.
Perhaps the same was true, albeit to a lesser extent, with Josh Murphy.
The head coach sees in unproven players the potential and the willingness to embrace his methods. Young minds are far more open to new ideas and challenging concepts.
The unstinting faith in Cantwell to start at Liverpool on the opening night of the Premier League campaign brings risk but ultimately reward. To see the accomplished manner Aarons cut a swathe at Hull in a man-of-the-match display, before a painful late exit, is to bear witness to Farke's faith.
It is not just the talent but the temperament the German is working on in his holistic approach to hot-housing fresh talent.
Godfrey proudly led the Young Lions on Humberside in a composed, confident shift.
The manner he cajoled and organised his backline underlined his leadership credentials.
One is minded to compare this version with the player Farke chided when he first broke into the starting line up last Christmas for that rash, impetuous streak. Go back even further to perhaps the first evidence of a City centre back in the making - when he was thrust into the maelstrom of an East Anglian derby tussle last season at Portman Road - and announced his arrival with a full-blooded lunging tackle that on another day may have earned him a red card.
Even at Anfield, as the goals rained in and the gulf between the Championship and the Premier League appeared a chasm, Godfrey stood firm and exuded authority; emotions were kept firmly in check and when challenged afterwards by the waiting media a maturity that led him to insist he was not on the tourist trail but out to prove he belonged.
Go back to Hull on Monday and look at the calibre of team mates around the Norwich trio. Phil Foden of Manchester City, Mason Greenwood of Manchester United, Rhian Brewster of Liverpool.
Top class potential at top class clubs.
But all three Canaries did not look out of place. Nor was there any trace of an inferiority complex.
That is a credit to them. But it is also a huge credit to the astute Farke.