Despite Norwich claiming their first Premier League win of the season against Brentford last Saturday, Daniel Farke, the manager who brought them back up to England’s top flight, has been sacked by the club.
Farke had signed a four-year contract extension in July following the club’s successful promotion to the Premier League. Many fans and pundits believed that Norwich would stick with Farke having done so in 2020, the last time that the club was in the Premier League after they had a run of poor results and were subsequently relegated. However, the difference this season is that Norwich have had too many poor performances and the board’s decision is not too surprising.
The decision to sack Farke shows that Norwich are determined to maintain their Premier League status, as they are currently five points off safety. The club are not content to continue in their current manner and hope that Farke would keep them up but inevitably return to the Championship at the end of this season. The club have clearly demonstrated ambition this season, having spent £54 million on new signings and now sacking Farke in the hope of turning the string of lacklustre performances around to stay in the top flight.
Norwich require a manager that will be able to compete in a relegation battle this season then attempt to grow them from next season onwards, be that in the Premier League or Championship.
Here are three potential candidates for the vacant role:
Lampard has been out of work since being removed from his position as manager of Chelsea in January. He has had relative success in his short career with Derby and Chelsea, reaching a play-off final and achieving a top-four finish. Lampard has a good record of bringing through young talent (Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori) and getting the best out of them; Norwich will hope he can do this with Andrew Omobamidele, Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons.
Whilst Lampard doesn’t have an outstanding defensive record as a manager, his sides can certainly score goals. Norwich need to start improving in both areas, having conceded 26 and scoring only five. This would be a difficult job for any manager. The key decision for Lampard is whether he wants to take the risk of getting relegated with Norwich, given they are favourites to finish in the bottom three, and potentially build from the Championship.
Knutsen is the current manager of Bodo/Glimt and has brought success to a Norwegian side that had been moving between the top and second tiers since 2005, similar to Norwich. Knutsen recently won four points off Jose Mourinho’s Roma, beating them 6-1. Bodo/Glimt won the Norwegian top flight last year conceding only 23 goals in 26 matches. This defensive solidity would be key to Norwich’s survival. However, his side did also score 52 goals in this campaign, displaying his ability to coach sides with very little resources and extract the most out of his players defensively and offensively.
Similar to Lampard, Knutsen would need to decide whether he would want to potentially manage in the Championship next season. However, his record would instil the fans and players with confidence that Norwich can maintain their Premier League status and build upon that success in future seasons.
Martin was a long-time servant at Norwich City, signing in 2010 and playing with the side in the Championship and Premier League until 2018, whilst being appointed captain of the club in 2013. Martin is currently in charge of Swansea City, with his side sitting comfortably in 12th place with an average goal scoring and defensive record. Martin prefers his sides to keep possession and score goals through methodical prodding as witnessed with a 56-pass move that resulted in a goal for his Milton Keynes Dons side in March 2021. At the end of the 2020/21 season, Martin’s MK Dons side had the 3rd highest average possession percentage in Europe, behind only Manchester City and Barcelona, finishing 13th in League 1.
Martin has had a reasonably positive managerial career so far and has spoken of his desire to manage Norwich when appointed captain in 2013. Martin would be a gamble by Norwich to keep the club in the Premier League; his appointment would be one of planning for the future rebuild of the squad and tactical change from within the Championship next year, allowing the club to once again try to achieve Premier League stability.
Norwich have an important decision over this international break on the future of their club. Their appointment will be crucial. Lampard is favoured by the bookies and represents Norwich looking towards a big personality and name to use their limited experience to save the club from relegation this season and hope that if the team are relegated that he stays to achieve promotion the following year. Knutsen’s appointment would bring the best chance of surviving this year in the Premier League, and with his recent record and with potential survival he could build a consistently strong Norwich side. However, the appointment of Martin would show the near resignation of Norwich’s chances of survival this season and allow for him to rebuild the team in his style for the future in the hope that this backwards step will have a positive impact for years to come.
Written by Brendan McGilligan
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