Of course we lost at Villa Park. Not losing at Fulham and not losing at Villa aren’t going to happen in the same season are they? Seb Ward was on hand to experience a chastening afternoon.
One thing Daniel Farke hasn’t yet got to grips with is the congestion of Championship football. It may have been tiredness or it may have been tactics that led him to tamper with Wednesday’s winning side. Either way, he didn’t get the balance right in terms of retaining key members. The choice to bring in the ‘experience’ of Naismith and Jerome and the physique of Stiepermann, at the expense of our most creative assets, played into City’s downfall. When teams are down — and Villa were down — winless, lacking in confidence — kick them with the best you’ve got.
Farke lacked the same boldness at one critical point in the game too. Once Murphy’s goal went in, City should have ramped up the pressure by throwing on the names that teams fear. A key part of rotation is knowing when to bring those players you’ve rested back into the fray.
The emphasis on passing out from the back is now intrinsic to City’s new possession game. Martin may be able to talk the talk on Jack Reeve’s podcast, but he didn’t really walk the walk, or pass the pass, head the header, or y’know, play at all well. I yearned for an Ivo Pinto to miraculously arrive in a DeLorean from a future where time travel exists — and indeed his injury doesn’t — to be subbed on at half time.
Instead, we had Martin who at every opportunity wanted to whip or float the ball down the line for an onrushing winger to chase as he has done for the previous six years. Such direct methods are discouraged under Farke because too often it loses the team possession. Yet, in light of this prohibition, Martin’s pass selection was ponderous, indecisive and at worst, inaccurate. When the club captain of 302 appearances looks most out of place in a defence only recently out of Farke’s metaphorical womb, the writing is surely on the wall.
Nelson Oliveira scores goals
That’s right. In case you didn’t know: Nelson Oliveira scores goals. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Put that on your t-shirt and sell it. Put him in your team and start him. Like Shakira’s hips, the stats don’t lie, even for LYBP writers who generally prefer pop culture references, poor jokes and even poorer puns.
And so, on a rare, momentous occasion, (watch it, drink it in) here is LYBP providing you with the #stats:
Nelson Oliveira has scored a Championship goal every 110 minutes on average for Norwich City.
Cameron Jerome has scored a Championship goal every 173 minutes on average for Norwich City. Therefore, Cameron Jerome scores a Championship goal, on average, over an hour less frequently than Nelson Oliveira.
Batman, Spiderman, Stiepermann
One crucial thing we learned is that Stiepermann is a big fucking German. I haven’t quite worked out what exactly what he brings to the team – or his best position – or importantly, his superpower — but I’m hoping we find out during the course of the season.
Bedwetting before bedding-in
It turns out quite a few haven’t grasped the idea of a bedding-in period. That being the period of adaptation that must inevitably take place when making such fundamental changes in just one summer. The hysteria on twitter was profound, and, if anything, slightly out of kilter with the overall feeling leaving Villa Park yesterday. But it appears that half of the fans who were willing to give the whole ‘Webberlution’ a chance just, well, aren’t. So that’s great.
One thing I’ve learned is that many are quick to attribute the failure of any aspect of the performance as an overall failure of the philosophy. It was a game flavoured with frustration, marinaded in mistakes and seasoned with selection errors, but it was not all bleak. There were times where we played some beautiful football, and that gives me hope.
The Championship is a funny old league where you can lose quite a few and still do well. All that is needed, as our own experience has proven so often, is three or four good results in a row and the entire outlook can change. We have players to return and lessons to learn. So give it time.