David Freezer: Farke’s strong stance could prove to be a turning point for City
The frustration has been understandable for Daniel Farke, it’s shared by Norwich City supporters, but could the bold chastising of two important players prove to be a turning point in his reign as head coach?
Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell were left in absolutely no doubt that Farke was unhappy with them after his brutal dissection of the situation on Sunday, with his blood still pumping after a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth despite a positive performance.
It’s that passionate honesty which so endeared the German to Canaries fans after his arrival in 2017, with his strength of character and good intention of playing style allowing him to survive the low points of his first season relatively unscathed.
He laid down the law quickly, particularly after the strange incident in his first match when Nelson Oliveira celebrated his equaliser on the opening day at Fulham by waving his shirt in Farke’s face for having the temerity to start him as a substitute at Craven Cottage.
While trying to remain diplomatic and not burn bridges, the Portuguese striker’s boss said in the aftermath: “It is quite important that you love the name on the shirt, but on the front, not the back. I believe this.
“It is about the club, not one player.”
It was the kind of charming statement that City fans came to love as success gradually grew, after laying down the law and making sure his players knew who was in charge.
Eventually we would hear how his “heart is yellow” as things began to click together, as the 2018-19 promotion train began to pick up steam, but it was a shaky start to that memorable campaign.
One win from the opening five Championship matches had piled plenty of pressure on a derby day at Portman Road in September 2018, ahead of the first international break of the campaign.
Had Moritz Leitner not struck a fine equaliser in Suffolk, the clamour for change may well have proved difficult to resist in the corridors of power at Carrow Road. We all know what happened next.
Just one defeat in the next 17 league games sparked something special, as all the hard work to establish ‘Farkeball’ paid off in style and saw the Canaries ride the wave all the way to the Premier League.
After the top-flight dream turned into a nightmare and with the transfer window continuing six weeks into the season due to football’s adjusted calendar, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, things have felt unsettled.
Cantwell and Buendia being left out by choice, on the back of a first defeat of the season, saw plenty of pent-up anger and frustration come pouring out from some fans, some of which was justified - as well as some total gibberish from the noisy minority.
Few City fans can have much to quibble about with Farke’s justification, however. He would not have left such talented and creative players out of his squad unless he truly felt it was for the greater good.
“If you want a coach who just picks a team by potential, or name, or that he has to somehow be grateful that this player plays for Norwich City, I will just pick players who are desperate and willing to work their socks off - and know the responsibility to play for this club,” said the fired-up Canaries boss.
“I don’t think this club owes the player anything, it is the other way around. This club makes sure that they can live such a privileged life.”
Now all eyes will be fixed on the team news arriving at 11.30am on Saturday ahead of the visit of a nose-diving Derby team and England’s record goal-scorer Wayne Rooney.
Will it be redemption or the continuation of a disappointingly sour exit of two very popular players ahead of the looming transfer deadlines, of 11pm on Monday for overseas deals and 5pm on Friday, October 16 for domestic business?
Whether they are involved or not, it is all about what happens on the pitch. Win and seven points from the opening four games will be a very decent return amid transfer uncertainties, settling a new squad and shaking off the notorious relegation hangover.
Then once the international action is out of the way and the transfer window is finally closed, we’ll see if Farke can reproduce some magic.
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