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Norwich’s Achilles heel

Norwich’s Achilles heel

Norwich are pointless this season and leaking goals. Sometimes it‘s a mystery why a team is doing badly, but not in Norwich’s case. They seem to have a problem in one particular position.


Transcript

Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world of football.

Today, a left sided problem for Norwich.

***

With a defeat to Watford ten days ago, Norwich lost their 15th consecutive league game.

It’s the longest run of defeats for any club or manager in the Premier League, a record that Norwich’s manager Daniel Farke really didn’t want to break.

This weekend, they lost again, 2-0 at Everton. So that’s 16 Premier League matches without a single point.

Most managers would have been sacked well before this point. And that’s exactly why Daniel Farke has broken this record.

So why has he survived for so long?

Well, to start with, those 16 games have spanned two seasons. Norwich were relegated in May 2020. But Farke was given the chance to stay on in the Championship. And they won the league, and bounced straight back to the top flight.

So there was absolutely no reason to sack Farke – he’d won promotion.

But now he’s teetering on the brink, with no points in their first six matches of the season. Norwich have only scored twice and they’ve conceded sixteen times.

And they certainly had a tough reintroduction to the Premier League. In their first two games they lost 3-0 to Liverpool and 5-0 to Manchester City. It was a real baptism of fire.

But since then they’ve played less scary opposition – and they’ve carried on losing. 

The last time Daniel Farke was in the Premier League with Norwich, he was criticised for persevering with his philosophy of playing out from the back, and his defenders were under immense pressure from their opposition’s razor-sharp forward lines.

Has he learned his lesson since then?

He certainly has a list of reasons why Norwich have failed to score even a single point.

He says they had a disrupted pre-season, and that he lacked experienced players.

“What it means when you work with many, many young players and you know of course probably a bit more experienced players wouldn’t have had this lack of awareness level to give the ball away.”

Daniel Farke, Norwich City YouTube

He said they were unlucky, or tired, or suffering from the after-effects of international football.

“The first fifteen minutes were tough, I expected this a little bit as we had a bit tricky international break and also a few changes during the game.”

Daniel Farke, Norwich City YouTube

He said that football could be cruel or that his team had dominated possession.

“Yes we are disappointed because we lost this game and erm… yeah football can be the sometimes the most unfair sport in the world. It’s more or less the only sport where even the better side can lose the game and my gut feeling is that it was the case today.”

Daniel Farke, Norwich City YouTube

But among all of the various reasons that Farke gave for these negative results, there was a hint of real clarity from him during his post-match interview after the Manchester City defeat in Week Two.

 Norwich have a real problem with the left-hand side of their defence.

“Yeah especially with the way we conceded four times the same goal… four times their winger was in behind my left-back and you know with the assist from this position it’s more or less an easy tap-in the centre and it was four times the same goal.”

Daniel Farke, Norwich City YouTube

In that match, Daniel Farke had played a back five with Joshua Sargent as left wing-back. In fact, he’s actually had four different players in that position this season as he’s switched between a back four and a back five.

But none of it has made any difference.

Since Daniel Farke made those comments about the Man City game, six goals from the eight in total Norwich have conceded have come from a cross from the opposition’s right.

No matter who is in that left-back position, they simply get sucked in to helping out in the middle, leaving their opponent free to put the ball into the most dangerous area on the pitch.

After the defeat to Watford, a team that finished below Norwich in the Championship last season, Farke was keen to say that it was individual errors rather than a problem with tactics which was the cause of the defeat.

But with so many goals conceded from their left, Daniel Farke has a very clear problem to solve, and no transfer window to help him solve it. At the end of the day, the buck stops with him.

And with his record this season, he may not have much time left to turn things around.

Today’s episode was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Matt Russell.