Nor­wich boss sent back to the draw­ing board as loan star Grab­ban fills his boots

Daily Mail - - The Verdict -

ThE vo­cab­u­lary of Nor­wich City was the same as ever. Un­flat­ter­ing ref­er­ences to Ip­swich. Fans im­plor­ing the play­ers to ‘have a lit­tle scrim­mage’ — one of the more cu­ri­ous lines from the leg­endary club an­them On the Ball, City, from which the club pro­gramme takes its name.

But those re­turn­ing to this sta­dium oth­er­wise found their side changed ut­terly by what can only be de­scribed as the Ger­man ex­per­i­ment: a high-risk gam­ble to de­liver their club back into the Pre­mier League’s promised land.

Nor­wich’s para­chute money is run­ning out — £29mil­lion this sea­son and that’s their lot — so they’re stak­ing it on Daniel Farke, a 40-year-old whose man­age­rial c.v. lists lit­tle more than two years in charge of Borus­sia Dort­mund’s re­serves.

Farke keeps drop­ping the name ‘Jur­gen Klopp’ — an­other Dort­mund alum­nus — into the con­ver­sa­tion, though the achieve­ments of an­other, David Wag­ner, are what Nor­wich covet. They’ve even poached hud­der­s­field’s head of op­er­a­tions, Stu­art Web­ber, as sport­ing di­rec­tor, and have raided Ger­many’s sec­ond and fourth tiers for four of their nine sum­mer sign­ings.

Dur­ing 20 ini­tial min­utes of Nor­wich pre­ci­sion foot­ball, you won­dered why no one else had thought of this ear­lier. Farke’s play­ers looked at ease with the game of pa­tient pass­ing that he wants. har­ri­son Reed, the 22-year- old for­mer Eng­land Un­der 20 in­ter­na­tional on loan from Southamp­ton, mar­shalled from the back of mid­field. Mar­ley Watkins looked a good piece of busi­ness from Barns­ley.

But the pic­ture was scram­bled al­most as soon as it had formed. There were signs in a nar­row League Cup win over Swin­don in mid­week that Farke’s back four might be vul­ner­a­ble and once Si­mon Grayson’s play­ers had con­firmed it, Nor­wich were feck­less. They evap­o­rated.

Farke ar­rived armed with sta­tis­ti­cal ev­i­dence of his own side’s dom­i­nance at the end — ‘75 per cent pos­ses­sion; 13 to one set-pieces’ — but Sun­der­land were the

only side with a fin­ish in them. James Vaughan got a touch on a 27th-minute punt from goal­keeper Ja­son Steele, Lewis Grab­ban stole be­yond the de­fence to score and they never looked back.

‘How s*** must you be? We’re win­ning away,’ Sun­der­land’s fans sang, which said ev­ery­thing for their am­bi­tion this sea­son.

Grayson, who says there is lit­tle money, de­spite Sun­der­land’s £47m para­chute pay­ment, has not gone look­ing in ob­scure di­vi­sions for re­in­force­ments. But here was the ev­i­dence that some­times po­ten­tial can be star­ing you in the face. Grab­ban, whose shot at the big time with Bournemouth had pe­tered out, left on loan for Wear­side last win­ter. Ai­den McGeady looks like a steal for £250,000, hav­ing fol­lowed Grayson from Pre­ston. It was McGeady who dou­bled the lead early in the sec­ond half with an arced left-foot shot.

‘I have to bring the right types to the club,’ Grayson said. ‘For too long, play­ers have been com­ing for the wrong rea­sons. We have to put the heart and soul back in the club. Sup­port­ers ap­pre­ci­ate that. Ours is a work­ing-class city.’

Farke talked, un­con­vinc­ingly, of only need­ing to fix ‘the small things’. But his play­ers could not lo­cate the re­motest orig­i­nal­ity of thought in the sec­ond half. Grab­ban sealed Nor­wich’s fate on 71 min­utes, con­vert­ing a McGeady cross af­ter more de­fen­sive may­hem. His own-goal was cold con­so­la­tion for the hosts.

For Sun­der­land, there was a sense of vin­di­ca­tion. ‘I think there are some­times too many for­eign man­agers over here,’ Grayson said last week. ‘Maybe one or two of these va­can­cies . . . should be filled by Bri­tish coaches. It’s our coun­try.’

For Nor­wich, there will be pal­pi­ta­tions. They can ill af­ford this ex­per­i­ment to fail.


All over: Grab­ban scores the third for Sun­der­land

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