‘Something needs to change’ – what next after Norwich’s abysmal start?
The noises coming out of Norwich City this week had been combative. The result was another defeat.
Following their 7-0 humiliation at Chelsea on 23 October, Norwich faced criticism across the spectrum – that they were a club not adventurous enough, that they had a manager without a plan, that the players were not up to it.
Boss Daniel Farke and chief executive Stuart Webber both issued rallying cries and asked critics not to judge their side after nine Premier League games.
But after their 10th game, Sunday’s 2-1 loss at home to Leeds, they are bottom of the table, with no wins, two points and a stack of unwanted statistics.
For most observers, the question for Norwich has moved from whether they can survive to whether they can avoid being one of the worst teams in Premier League history.
“If you can’t handle criticism or pressure from the outside, then you cannot do this job,” said Farke.
“I am not worried. I just want to protect my players. I am not thinking about my future but working with these players.”
So, where has it gone wrong for Norwich – and where do they go from here?
‘Something needs to change’ – from bad to worse
The Premier League numbers are dreadful for Norwich.
Farke has not won any of his past 20 top-flight matches – since a 1-0 victory over Leicester on 28 February 2020. Andrew Omobamidele’s header against Leeds was only their third league goal of the campaign.
They have not scored more than once in any of their past 28 top-flight games and at the other end of the pitch, Norwich have lost their past 33 Premier League matches when conceding the first goal.
Rather than eyeing the magic 40-point mark generally seen as the target for survival, Canaries fans might be happy just to get to Derby County’s record for fewest points in a Premier League season with 11 in 2007-08.
Next up are games against Brentford, Southampton, Wolves and Newcastle.
“You look at the fixtures and you start to worry. Where are the next three points going to come from?” former Scotland defender Alan Hutton told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“You just wonder what direction they are going in. Daniel Farke has been here a long time and done well. Sometimes you need a change of voice – something needs to change.”
Lack of ambition or not good enough?
Webber, who has overseen two promotions as City’s chief executive alongside Farke, was notably angered by suggestions the club had not taken enough risks in the transfer market this summer and that they are occupying the Premier League spot of a team who might “give it a go”.
“When I hear that Norwich have given up, or we have simply banked the money and run, it makes me angry. We need to come back out fighting now,” he said midweek.external-link
“We can either sit here and be ‘nice little Norwich’ that people maybe expect or we fight back.”
He also pointed out Norwich were the league’s 11th biggest spenders during the transfer window, against the backdrop of a club that is self-sufficient, receives zero funding from a benefactor and has come close to financial disaster in the past.
“What is the bigger picture?” asked former Norwich winger Darren Eadie on BBC Radio Norfolk.
“We give this self-funding image out and that we’re doing things the right way – and we are – but that only gets you so far.
“We’re proud of that. But is this group of players good enough to stay in the league? They’re not, unless you change something and the obvious thing to change would be the manager.
“If they want to stay in the Premier League this season, they have to make a change.”
‘If Norwich are going to sack Farke, they have to sack him soon’
Farke has been given the biggest financial backing of any Norwich manager, and Eadie is joined by some fans – many of whom booed off their team at full-time on Sunday – in questioning whether the German is up to the job of avoiding relegation.
With the 2019-20 relegation season combined, the Canaries have conceded 100 goals in the manager’s 48 top-flight games, and he has the lowest points-per-game ratio, the lowest win ratio and the lowest goals-per-game ratio of anyone to manage more than one season in the Premier League.
Farke had been at pains to point out their heavy defeats this term had come against the current top three of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City – but now it is no wins and a total of just two points from matches against Leicester, Watford, Burnley, Brighton, Arsenal, Everton and Leeds.
“Norwich were bad today; they don’t look like scoring from open play,” said former Canaries striker Chris Sutton after Sunday’s defeat by Leeds.
“We all know about Norwich’s model, but if Norwich are going to sack Daniel Farke, they have to sack him soon.
“If this goes on much longer, they will be doomed but Farke has proven he can get them back up. He’s done it before.”
And Eadie added: “I just don’t think we’re good enough. I don’t think it’s an effort thing or desire thing, I just don’t think there’s the quality.
“I’m not sure if everyone knows their roles in the team. You’re not going to get a better opportunity to beat Leeds at home.”
As for Farke, he still believes he is the man to turn things around at Carrow Road.
“Yes, of course,” he said. “I am disappointed but I also know our situation. For us, as a club there will never be a guarantee immediately after promotion we can definitely stay in this league.
“I accept the quality in both boxes is not good enough right now to stay in this league. We have to be transparent and self-critical. We are not happy.”