Triggered by eye-catching performances during the international break and crudely written articles in the national press, there has been a lot of talk about Billy Gilmour over the past week.
Now normally I’m not necessarily the type to want to jump in on the topic everyone seems to be talking about – I like to try to do things a little differently (at least that’s what I tell myself).
However, when it comes to City’s use of the loan system, I have a few choice ideas and in particular with regard to the two domestic loans we have seen this season – the aforementioned Scot and Manchester’s Brandon Williams. United.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was desperate for one of the two loan positions to be filled by superlative Olly Skipp, who last season was a colossus and is now unsurprisingly a regular at Tottenham.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that Skippy is the best loan signing in Norwich City history, ignoring a certain striker who came in, had a huge impact, carried number six and made his movement permanent. But enough about David Nielsen.
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Skipp was the perfect use of the loan system, he played a big role in promoting the winnings and returned to Spurs feeling like a winner and they are reaping the rewards. We got what we needed, they got what they needed too.
And that’s what the system is designed for, what it’s there for, and how it works.
It is clearly for this reason that Chelsea and United saw Colney as the perfect place for these two young shoots to go to cut their teeth in the Premier League.
But it’s not, and it should never be a one-way street – and the criticisms Daniel Farke has leveled at how their respective campaign debuts have turned out just seem just bizarre to me.
No player, whether an exciting lender, a youngster, or a recording contract, should come up with a divine right to play – and the only man who should have the autonomy to know if he does is Daniel Farke.
Players on loan, if the decision is right, shouldn’t feel like players on loan – they should feel like permanent recruits on short-term contracts.
Matthias Normann looks very much like a Norwich City player. Ditto Ozan Kabak. Sure, they both have clauses, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard Normann call “Rostov-loanee” the way Gilmour and Williams are considered lenders.
And of course I always come back to myself, but for me Olly Skipp never really felt like a lender, he felt like our player for the season.
Now, do I doubt that Billy Gilmour and Brandon Williams have a natural quality and something to give? Not for a second.
Am I to doubt that they both have a great future in the game? Again, not for a second.
However, from what I’ve seen of them so far, I think hard love might just be the ticket – and I’m sure they’ll both be better at it.
Without sounding too harsh on their part, I feel like their parent clubs sent them here with the message that this is where they came to make their mistakes.
The cynic in me imagines these types of conversations: “You are young players, you will make mistakes and learn from them – go to Norwich, do them where it doesn’t matter and come back better.”
This is how the system works for the big clubs, but the loans have to be mutually beneficial.
A national newspaper roughly paraphrased Daniel Farke’s carefully worded comments to say something like “we’re not here to develop players for other teams” – totally out of context, but what Farke actually said rings true and is just.
If a loan works, will we have developed the player? Yes of course. But it is only if it works that the player will develop and only if he proves that he is in the setup on merit and not because of the identity of his parent club.
Did Olly Skipp play almost every minute last season because he was a Spurs player, or because he was the first and only defensive midfielder in the past decade with enough information on him to dislodge Alex Tettey from the team. The last.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Gilmour play a more advanced role – but only if he proves he deserves to be there.
A few decent performances for Scotland against nations weaker than the opposition they would inevitably face in the Premier League are not enough for me.
And likewise, I certainly wouldn’t let Dimitris Giannoulis – a player we’ve spent a seven-figure sum on the back of two clean sheets – just because Brandon Williams mentions Manchester United as his employer.
Daniel Farke’s job is to pick the team that he believes is best equipped for the current game – not to appease Chelsea.
Likewise, Billy Gilmour’s job is to get down on his knees and prove that he deserves to be on the team and I’m sure when the time is right he will take the plunge.
And if he wins his way into the squad, it will be on merit and he’ll be a better player after having to fight his way through – there are no favors at this level.
Harry Kane has said his struggles on Carrow Road motivated him – if Gilmour can get the same out of it, it will prove exactly what every loan has to be – mutually beneficial.
All the best, Dan Barden
It’s not often that something happens to remind you that there are things in life bigger than football – although I’ll say it gently.
When something like this happens, it can hit you like a ton of bricks.
Obviously, City fans were rocked by the news of Daniel Barden’s testicular cancer diagnosis this week, when he was just 20 years old.
While there is no solace in news like this, at the very least, we can be thankful that it seems to have been caught early.
All we can do as supporters is just that – support – and the outpouring of love for the Cap since the news broke sums it up perfectly.
I can’t begin to imagine what’s going on inside this young man’s head, but knowing he’s on our minds I’m sure it will help.
There’s no way of knowing what the future holds, but I would like to think that involves football in the future. Get well soon, Dan!
It can be done
Eight games in the season and in the eyes of many Norwich are as good as they are relegated.
Now, I’m not kidding myself, things don’t look so rosy right now, although we seem to be harder to beat.
But are we faced with an impossible task? Of course not.
So to give me a little optimism and, I hope, to you, dear readers, I unfortunately looked a bit in the history books.
And yes, I admit it, for the team down after eight games, it doesn’t look great. In fact, in the past 10 seasons, this team has only beaten the decline three times.
However, that’s enough for me – it proves that it absolutely can be done.
The last team to do so was Crystal Palace, last after eight with three points on the board and further from safety than we are now. They finished 11th this season.
The other two were both Sunderland in 2013 and 2015 respectively. I forget which teams fell at their expense during these two campaigns.