Canaries fans have accepted Daniel Farke as one of their own
After the contract news Norwich City fans had been longing for finally arrived, David Freezer takes a closer look at Daniel Farke's time in charge of the Canaries, as a bright future beckons for the German coach...
The relief and excitement was palpable as the Carrow Road faithful celebrated the news they’d been waiting for last night.
After months of being told not to worry – yet in true British fashion, worrying nonetheless – Daniel Farke’s new long-term deal was finally announced, cranking up the volume significantly ahead of kick-off against Hull.
Stuart Webber had insisted there was no need to panic, the man himself reassured supporters that he was ‘relaxed’ about the situation, but still that certainty was craved.
For this head coach is not a man that Canaries fans want to lose. The turnaround of a club drifting into Championship mediocrity has not only been a remarkable feat on the pitch, but away from the highs and lows of match-days as well.
Cast your mind back to the dark days of early 2017, as an increasingly forlorn Alex Neil clung on desperately to the Carrow Road steering wheel.
The Scot, who had so miraculously inspired a rapid resurgence himself two years earlier, was now saddled with the disappointment of an avoidable and expensive Premier League relegation.
All that rebuilding work put in following relegation to League One in 2009, the roller-coaster ride which had followed, all looked to be ebbing away – with the prospect of parachute payments coming to an end leaving a bleak financial future as well.
Norwich City needed a reboot, for the club’s hierarchy to hit the reset button and find someone who could breathe fresh life into a club with so much potential.
The first step on that journey was a new structure, appointing Webber as the club’s first sporting director and putting their faith in the former Huddersfield chief’s ability to select a head coach who could provide hopes of a brighter future.
When the name Daniel Farke emerged, next to no one in Norfolk had ever heard of the German coach, probably even fewer than had heard of Neil when he came down from Hamilton.
Yet immediately the man arriving from Borussia Dortmund II, City’s first overseas appointment, brought a charisma and enthusiasm which encouraged fans to embrace a fresh start.
From the off the easy comparisons were made to the success Webber had in bringing David Wagner across from Dortmund’s second team previously, with Huddersfield on the verge of sealing play-off promotion at the time.
Wagner had a difficult first season, but led the Terriers to fifth place and 81 points.
Farke also had a difficult first campaign in England – but is on course to exceed that points tally in style. As Norwich supporters got to know the man in charge of their team they soon found a warm, honest and focused coach with the humility and humour to buy him patience. It was needed.
The highs and lows of 2017-18 were as frustrating for Farke as they were for supporters at times, as the tainted remnants of the Neil era remained and proved troublesome at times, when square pegs often didn’t squeeze into round holes.
Long-serving players who had all proved their worth for the club in the past soon became misfits that didn’t suit the demands of the new style being implemented.
An influx of German talent and academy prospects occasionally offered tantalising prospects, but consistency eluded Farke in his first season, resulting in 14th place and worries for what could follow.
City stuck to their guns though, continuing to overhaul the squad to give Farke the tools he needed, while balancing the books to secure the long-term financial future as well.
Those constraints bought further patience, despite plenty of moans and groans about sideways passing and a lack of goals causing plenty of concern.
What’s followed has been so impressive that this season now has the potential to be one of the most impressive in over 115 years of Norwich City thrills and spills.
To be in such a fine position in the automatic promotion race in mid-March and playing with such eye-catching attacking style has made Farke the undisputed king of Carrow Road.
The arm-waving celebrations at the end of games, orchestrated by the coach who has inspired such an unexpected title chase, are proof alone that he has won the hearts and minds of Canaries supporters – as shown again after last night’s 3-2 triumph to reclaim top spot.
Now the deal is finally done and there is no room for distractions. He may have a disarming smile and an endearing sense of humour but there is also a steely determination about Farke that leaves you in no doubt he has his eyes firmly fixed on the prize.