Tomorrow’s clash between Bolton Wanderers and Norwich City promises to be an intriguing one. It pits a team that has kept just one clean sheet all season against a side that specialises in 1-0 away wins.
While Bolton have only won once all season, we are now unbeaten in four - albeit through drawing our last three games having been in winning positions in all three. Norwich, on the other hand, only won one of their four games in October - an important one at that, with a 1-0 victory at local rivals Ipswich Town - but have won their last four league games by a single goal and haven’t lost away since a 4-0 defeat at Millwall in August.
To get a better idea of what to expect from tomorrow’s opponents we spoke to Norwich fan Adam Ward (@AJWard93).
Norwich seem unable to buy a win at home but have one of the best away records in the league – what’s that all about?
With the appointment of our new German head coach Daniel Farke we’ve gone through a major transformation in terms of how we play and the type of players we are looking to recruit. Last season we were all about blowing teams away, and outscoring the opposition. Problem was, we also conceded... a lot... there were more than a handful of Norwich games which ended with 5+ goals.
Unlike former manager Alex Neil, Farke is a big believer in keeping things tight, building from the back and holding possession. The football may appear less exciting to some, but I think our recent run of keeping 5 clean sheets in a row shows that it certainly works, and more importantly brings home the points.
To your question, the main issue with our home form is that Farke’s tactics rely on high levels of concentration, finding areas of space, working the ball slowly to the attacking players and scoring intricate goals. Away from home, where teams are more likely to be pushing forward this works well, there’s more space for us to exploit. At home however, the opposition generally expects us to dictate the play.
This has recently resulted in us spending a good 60 percent of the game passing between the back 5 and failing to get up the pitch. It doesn’t help that we just can’t seem to put the ball in the net at Carrow Road.
You’re 15 games into Daniel Farke’s reign as Norwich boss, what are your thoughts on him so far? What has he changed, and how does he differ from Alex Neil? And, is he the new David Wagner or the new Felix Magath?
It’s safe to say that Farke didn’t get off to the best of starts. Heavy losses to Sunderland and Villa plus a nightmare 4-0 loss to Millwall had many fans fearing we’d recruited poorly. However, in the last few games we’ve beaten the likes of Boro, Sheffield United and of-course Ipswich. We also put in a solid display at The Emirates, although in hindsight, forcing our best 11 to play 120 minutes just 48 hours after the East Anglian Derby probably wasn’t the wisest of moves, and probably explains our poor results against Derby and Wolves.
In terms of comparisons, I’ve also touched on how he differs to Alex Neil, in regards to Wagner, I see the comparisons but many claim he’s not as attack minded and it certainly feels that way on the pitch. In his own words, he sees his style of football more like Guardiola’s or Thomas Tuchel’s. If he can replicate that type of play in Norfolk, I’ll be more than happy!
What are your thoughts on Norwich generally so far this season so far? Which players have stood out for you? Where do you think you’ll finish at the end of the season?
In terms of how I see Norwich this season, we are what we are. A yo-yo club destined to float between the Championship and Premier League for all eternity. We’re a family club with more ambition to keep our books in check than risk it all on a gamble for a lengthy period in the top league.
We had a big opportunity a few years back to establish ourselves in the Prem, we were then fortunate enough to go back up to the top flight under Alex Neil. During both of our recent premier league campaigns we recruited poorly however and unless we get additional investment we will never establish ourselves up there.
This season is all about getting rid of the big money names that we simply can’t afford anymore (Howson, Naismith, Murphy etc) and bringing in fresh blood. (Most of which so far has been German). It’s about adapting to Farke’s style of play and getting into the play off spots.
Bolton and Norwich have scored just 25 goals in 30 matches combined this season – are we all set for a 0-0 on Saturday?
On paper this game has 0-0, or 1-0 either way written all over it. So it’ll probably end 8-8. In terms of who to watch out for, James Maddison or Yanic Wildschut. They enjoy an away goal.
Who’s the main man Bolton need to watch out for on Saturday?
James Maddison (CM/CAM), is brilliant and he will probably score. Other names include our recent German acquisitions, Christoph Zimmerman (CB), Marco Stiepermann (anywhere on the left), Tommy Trybull (CDM) and Angus Gunn (GK).
And finally, what’s your prediction for Bolton v Norwich?
If our away form is anything to go by it’ll be 1-0 Norwich. We will score early, then defend/time-waste for 75 minutes. You’ll hate it, the players will hate it, the officials will hate it. You’ll then join a growing list of championship clubs including Ipswich, Boro, and Sheffield United desperate for revenge back at Carrow Road.
Thanks to Adam for speaking to us, and if you want to give him a piece of your mind or follow all things Norwich-related give him a follow on Twitter: @AJWard93. And good luck - kind of - to Norwich tomorrow.