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Norwich City

A project is underway at Norwich City, but is it the right one?

The Boot Room

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Norwich City
Photo: Reuters

Outsiders looking in at Norwich City would say this has been a season of regression and underachievement at Carrow Road.

Yet, as the financial implications of relegation from the Premier League linger should Norwich fail to gain promotion – which seems increasingly likely – times are tough off the field in NR1.

Amidst all this financial pressure, the need to cut cloth has been graphically displayed through the departure of four senior players for substantial fees.

In truth, Norwich is in the process of a transition.

Previously, the club has been spearheaded by an omnipotent chief executive who oversaw everything from the football recruitment to how the club is run day to day.

Now, Norwich have adopted a more continental approach to their footballing structure, installing Stuart Webber as Sporting Director, who subsequently appointed Borussia Dortmund II coach Daniel Farke as his Head Coach.

Farke arrived in Norfolk with a label of being a progressive coach who developed young talent, playing a possession based style in the process.

He was met with a reality check as to the brutality and physicality of the division, and adeptly transformed Norwich into an outfit that could grind out results. Yet, defeat to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup saw this team endure a terrible run of form which was only halted at Christmas.

This is an experiment. A rebuild the scale of which hasn’t been seen in NR1 before and, in all honesty, it is an entirely unpredictable entity.

This season supporters have felt apathy, pride and disappointed. This was supposed to be a season of improvement and progression. Instead, this team seems to be stagnating in the division whilst selling its prized asset.

The reality is Norwich is self funding and whilst the current regime is in place, the reality is Norwich will have to sell their top talent in order to progress. See Alex Pritchard, Jonny Howson and Jacob Murphy. The parameters of the debate surrounding the current top brass at Carrow Road are there to be argued all day long.

What is abundantly clear is that Norwich need to ensure they are prepared for the difficulties lying ahead and reducing the wage bill by half, whilst attempting to fill a £30 million hole in the finances with the sales of top talent, is both logical and necessary.

Whilst the squad has changed dramatically, there is still a sense that Farke hasn’t formed a side which is capable of applying his intricate philosophy. In terms of recruitment thus far, Webber and Farke have prioritised steading a backline which leaked profusely last campaign.

With the experience of Grant Hanley and the insurgence of Christoph Zimmermann, Norwich’s reargued is a more balanced and reliable unit. Now attentions have been turned onto the other end of the pitch as Norwich’s toothless nature has been seen all too often.

When James Maddison’s reliable radar is astray, Norwich looks inept and devoid of any imagination. Offensively, the Canaries require differentiation in regards to how they offensively approach games. Norwich must retain the services of the young Englishman to keep this upward mobility discovered prior to Sheffield United.

Everything offensively positive has come through Maddison.

This is a side lacking athleticism and pace in wide areas, but also lack a striker who fits perfectly into Farke’s style.

With more bodies incoming in the days approaching, Farke should have a deeper squad at his disposal alongside some funds to recruit talent with the money gained from Pritchard’s sale.

This philosophy is still in the early days of construction. The frameworks and apparatus are still being put into place with Webber ensuring the academy is improved and there is a clear pathway for young players, like Jamal Lewis, to step up and play in the first team.

A pathway through the loan system has also been established. For a club with increasingly limited resources, Norwich will become reliant on their academy in regards to making money and improving the first team.

So where is Norwich at present?

Considering the change which has occurred from top to bottom at this football club and the constraints of the financial straitjacket in which Farke has had to operate, alongside seeing four instrumental players leaving in his first six month in charge, Norwich are left with a disjointed squad. However, Farke is doing a good job.

He has displayed he has the qualities and tactical nous to take this football club forward, and that he buys into the long term project in place. His reliance on young players will be of benefit to the football club in the long-term, while he looks set to ensure the academy is prosperous for the future.

This is a project, and one Norwich need to stick with.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

English Premier League

Marcus Edwards is struggling at Norwich, but so did Harry Kane

The 19-year-old Tottenham Hotspur talent is still waiting to have an impact at Carrow Road.

Mathew Coull

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Tottenham Hotspur have high hopes for their talented attacking midfielder Marcus Edwards. The 19-year-old has long been one of the names on the tip of Tottenham fans tongues when it comes to talent at the club. Back in 2016 Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino likened him to his compatriot Lionel Messi – high praise.

In January Edwards was sent out on loan to Championship side Norwich City to get some first-team experience. The idea was that Edwards would get plenty of football at Carrow Road and highlight his obvious talent. Unfortunately for the teenager and Tottenham that has not been the case.

BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – JANUARY 27: Daniel Farke, Head Coach of Norwich City looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Norwich City at Griffin Park on January 27, 2018 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images)

Edwards is still waiting for his debut for the Canaries. Norwich boss Daniel Farke has criticised his lack of work off the ball. Not long after completing the signing, Farke was quoted by the Eastern Daily Press as stating:

“There is no doubt with the ball he is one of our best players. But without it, he has to grow up a bit.

“That was the reason he didn’t play for Tottenham.”

But Edwards should not be too put off if his spell at Norwich proves unsuccessful. It would not be the first time a top Tottenham talent has struggled on loan at Carrow Road. Just ask Harry Kane.

Kane joined Norwich on loan at the end of August in 2012, with the Canaries then in the Premier League. Kane played just five times for the club before he was recalled by Spurs.

NORWICH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 29: David Silva of Manchester City and Harry Kane of Norwich City tussle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Manchester City at Carrow Road on December 29, 2012 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Instead of letting his Norwich nightmare get him down, Kane dusted himself and got to work. The next season was his breakthrough Tottenham campaign. With 134 goals in 204 games for the club since, Kane certainly did not let the failed Norwich loan spell hold him back.

Edwards has been praised for a change in his attitude this week by Farke and perhaps he will get a chance for Norwich before the end of the season.

If not, he can look at the example set by Kane and realise a failed loan spell can be as much a learning curve as a successful one.

Tottenham fans should also remember as much, and back Edwards when he does return to Tottenham in the summer.

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Chelsea

Norwich City 0-0 Chelsea: Three talking points from Carrow Road

Jake Jackman

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Chelsea

Chelsea will have to rely on a replay after failing to beat Norwich City at Carrow Road. It was a very poor performance from a much-changed Premier League side and they will have to be a lot better if they are to qualify for the fourth round. Despite the changes, the team was filled with internationals and they should have had enough to beat their Championship opposition. Antonio Conte forced himself into a corner as he had Alvaro Morata on the bench alongside a selection of young talent.

The home side may regret their poor final product in this match, as they did have chances against an unconvincing Chelsea defence. Josh Murphy cause problems with his pace, while James Maddison and Alex Pritchard showed why they are highly-rated in the second tier. The replay at Stamford Bridge will be a good occasion for the club and serve as a reminder of their aim to return to the top-flight. Here are three talking points from Carrow Road:

David Luiz doesn’t look like he wants to be at Chelsea

The centre-back returned back to the club last summer and received a great reaction from the supporters when the singing was announced. He has always had a good relationship with them since his first spell with the club and there was hope that Antonio Conte would bring the best out of him.

Last season, the Brazilian was central to the team’s title win and he looked like he was finally calming down, but the mood has switched this season. There appears to have been a breakdown in trust between the manager and the player, which was shown in this match. David Luiz lost focus on a few occasions and made mistakes that nearly led to goals.

He also received a needless booking for an overzealous challenge. If he was wanting to play himself back into Conte’s plans, he went about it in the wrong way. The Chelsea boss will want to sell him during this window if he can.

Angus Gunn is a huge talent

The Norwich City goalkeeper delivered an assured performance against Chelsea and will be delighted with the clean sheet. He has been one of the better goalkeepers in the Championship this season and this display brought him to the attention of the wider British footballing public. The Canaries won’t want to lose him for a long time, but it is obvious that he has the potential to play at a higher level.

During the match, he made an impressive seven saves to ensure his side earned a replay. Although Chelsea didn’t play well, the goalkeeper was still required on several occasions and everything he was asked to do was completed with style. Gunn showed good control of his area and regularly came off his line to relieve pressure on his team-mates. This is the mark of a confident goalkeeper and he will have gained a lot from this cup tie.

His distribution wasn’t as effective as the rest of his game, but he is only 21 and he has time to develop that side of his game. It would be unfair to be overly critical of it as he was asked to play long balls to try and release the pace that Norwich had in attack. There were a few very good performances from the home side, but Gunn’s was the pick of the bunch.

Chelsea are reliant on a few individuals

It wasn’t the right that was worrying for Antonio Conte, but the complete lack of ideas from those on the pitch. Willian showed good endeavour and tried to make things happen, but there was nobody else capable of supporting him. As the game developed, it was obvious that the Blues were missing Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and N’Golo Kante. Without those three players, this team looked very ordinary.

Tieumoue Bakayoko was a particular disappointment as he continued his tough start in a Chelsea shirt. The midfielder was viewed as a replacement for Nemanja Matic, but he has yet to convince supporters that he is good enough to be a starter for the club. He dithered on the ball and was regularly caught on it by the alert Norwich players.

The next month is going to be crucial for Chelsea, as it is clear this squad needs an injection of quality. Ross Barkley has already arrived and he will be able to add something different to the squad, as he can create from deep. It could be that he is viewed as another option in the centre of the park to partner N’Golo Kante. Given time, he could develop into a very good player for the Blues, but further additions are needed.

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English Premier League

Swansea City bid for Nelson Oliveira – how does he compare to Fernando Llorente?

Jake Jackman

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Oliveira

Swansea City are keen to sign a striker before the transfer deadline as a replacement for the outgoing Fernando Llorente. The Mail report that they are looking at Norwich City striker Nelson Oliveira and have made a £12 million offer for the 26-year-old. He did spend a short time on loan in South Wales in 2015, but he managed to score only once in ten matches.

Paul Clement believes that he can have a greater impact this time around after gaining more experience in England. Last season, he managed to score 11 goals for Norwich City, with one coming every 127.5 minutes. This is a good return in the Championship and there were signs that he is now ready to compete at a higher level.

Despite his future being the topic of speculation, Oliveira has started the season in good form with three goals in the first five matches. Swansea aren’t the only team interested, as Reading have been in the running to sign the Portuguese international.

How does he compare to Llorente?

Fernando Llorente has had more success at a higher level than Oliveira, but the Norwich striker is younger than the man he would replace at the Liberty Stadium. They play similar styles too, as the Portuguese international can compete in the air and hold up the ball for on-running midfielders. His link up play isn’t as accomplished, but he would be able to create chances in a Swansea attack.

The statistical comparison of the two strikers last season suggests that they were utilised in different roles. Oliveira was more goal-oriented as he created only 0.4 chances and attempted 3.81 shots per ninety minutes. Meanwhile, Llorente created 0.88 chances and attempted 1.81 shots per ninety minutes. The caveat to these are that the former was playing in a lower division and the spearhead of the joint-best attack. On the other hand, the Swansea striker was part of a team fighting relegation.

In terms of build-up play, Llorente was more impressive in the air as he won 53.41% of his aerial duels. This is significantly better than Oliveira, who won only 27.66% of his. This would be a concern for Swansea as they will look to be direct at times this season. The Championship is a more physical league, but this is a worrying statistic.

Would he be a good signing?

It would be difficult to see the transfer as anything other than a downgrade from Llorente. There is a reason the Spaniard is in line for a top-six club and it was a coup for Swansea to sign him last summer. Oliveira is improving and has started to emerge as one of the best strikers in the Championship. However, he has yet to prove himself in a top division and that makes him a huge risk. It could work out for the Swans if they did sign him, but he isn’t a guaranteed success.

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