Ahead of the visit of newly promoted Norwich City, TEB had a chat with Jon from the popular fan site and podcast Along Came Norwich about the season so far, thoughts on the game and much more.
Q. Welcome back to the Premier League! What are your hopes for the new season?
Predictably as a promoted side, it’s all about survival. If things were looking a bit rosier on the injury front then I’d say our ambitions might be a bit loftier, but any City fan would take 17th right now.
That might sound somewhat defeatist, but it’s more a sad fact that nowadays, the money falls off a cliff when you’re relegated, and it’s a sizeable task to compete in the top flight after coming up, all while ensuring you don’t disrupt the shape of the squad too much. That said, Norwich have plenty of players who are extremely technically adept, it’s just whether we can find a winning formula for the Premier League with enough regularity – especially away from home.
Q. Looking back, how do you rank last season now that the dust has settled?
I’ve been there for most of the great moments in recent history – nearly winning the inaugural Premier League in 1992/93, FA Cup semi-finals, play off finals, jumping from League One to the top flight with successive promotions, the list goes on.
Last season tops the lot, not just because it’s the most attractive brand of football I’ve seen us play, but due to the fact the club is together like no-one has really felt it before. That comes from the senior management within the club implementing a philosophy – rather than the endless short termism we’ve become bored of – then actually communicating it to fans properly so they know what the journey is going to look like. It doesn’t always go to plan, but the basics that you expect from a football club as a supporter actually happen. The players work hard, the club communicate openly and transparently and the fans turn up to actually back the team week-in, week-out. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Q. Do you hope that the club stick by Daniel Farke, whatever happens this season?
I don’t think it, I know it. Given the scale of his achievements and his preferred attacking style of play, there is zero chance of us jettisoning Farke unless there is a massive fall-out down the line. Promotion was ahead of schedule for us. Sure, we’re here to make a decent fist of it, but relegation wouldn’t be the end of the world, and the club are so confident in the German’s ability to actually coach the players they’d probably let him sign a 10 year contract tomorrow.
Q. The German has done a great job since arriving at the club but what has he done so differently to turn the fortunes of the club around?
He’s coached them. Properly. Then actually had a clear vision of what he wants to deliver, and executed it with the minimum of fuss. All while selling off our perceived ‘best’ talent and bringing through young players from the academy. When you sit back and reflect on it, there is no way promotion should have happened with the resources at our disposal. It just flew in the face of the perceived wisdom. There was no Championship knowhow, no seasoned experienced heads at this level – this was a team full of young starlets and foreign imports – but all of them were selected to do specific jobs and had the necessary attributes to do them. That takes good coaching and even better recruitment, something we’ve excelled at over the last 18 months or so.
It wasn’t just Farke though, our Sporting director Stuart Webber has virtually completed a top down re-organisation of the football side of the club. He is probably the real mastermind behind a lot of this.
Q. How was the summer transfer window for the club – were all needs addressed?
Back up right back – tick. New striker to act as competition for Pukki – tick. Another dynamic winger – tick. Better goalkeeping understudy – massive tick. Midfield enforcer to replace Alex Tettey’s aging legs – huge tick.
So yes, in a way. Then three of our four centre backs got injured with the season a few weeks old – one is out until January, the other for the season. No-one could have seen that coming, although some Norwich fans will tell you they were screaming for another defensive signing all summer (they weren’t).
Q. One to watch for Norwich this season?
Bit obvious to say Teemu Pukki, everyone has woken up to his talents already. Emi Buendia will light up the league once he properly settles though, a future Argentine international in the making with an ever growing box of tricks, accurate through balls and a tireless workrate.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player to sign, who would it be and why?
Gary Cahill stands out – purely because he’s actually pretty decent with the ball at his feet and we’re crying out for centre backs. Doubt we could ever stretch to his wages though.
Q. Name a player from each side that you believe will be a threat in this game?
The aforementioned Pukki will get chances and given his current vein of form I’d back him to score. Wilfried Zaha always seems to give our full backs a torrid time and I’d expect more of the same, unfortunately.
Q. Perhaps you could share your views on what you expect from Palace this season?
I’ll be honest, I kind of had your lot down in the bracket of ‘maybe one of the three sides I hope will be worse than us this season’. I like Roy Hodgson a lot and you have some eye catching names in your side, so this is based on more of a gut feel, but I think you’ll potentially struggle.
Q. Your prediction?
1-1. We have a terrible record at Selhurst Park, so I’ll take that and run, thank you very much.