Two wins in four days! I could get used to this.
That six goals have been scored and Carrow Road has been subject to that rare phenomenon called entertainment in the process is indeed a bonus. It almost felt like fun again.
Of course, all of the above is infinitely easier to achieve in the Championship – and it would be unfair to suggest the previous regime would not have sought to entertain in the second tier – but the purpose and intent with which Neil Adams has set the team up in the two home games smacks of an era when he was perched next to BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham.
As ever, in typical City fashion, it didn’t run completely smoothly and a torrid opening fifteen minutes served as a timely reminder that there is still ample room for the squad to be further strengthened. And having witnessed the aerial struggles of Russell Martin and co against Rudy Gestede – especially early on – there is little doubt of the overriding theme of the scouting report that will land on Mick McCarthy’s desk this morning.
Fortunately the half-time arrival of Ryan Bennett helped to shore things up at the back, even though it was a forced change – due to Javier Garrido’s injury – as opposed to the managerial masterstroke I hailed it at the time. It will have been duly noted by those who matter.
But rather than dwell on the odd negative there were far more positives to unpick, not least the re-emergence of the Bradley Johnson/Alex Tettey defensive midfield combo.
Both were excellent again last night, with the biggest compliment being that while the words ‘Leroy’ and ‘Fer’ hung heavily in the air pre-7:45, they were barely uttered post-match. Instead the talk was of another superbly crafted goal by the former and a man-of-the-match performance by the latter.
And while both are more renowned for their energy and physical attributes, the extra millisecond of time afforded by the Championship appears enough to have given both the ability to find those in yellow when passing the ball. And long may it continue.
When things are going well, not only does the solid base of two defensive midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 provide defensive surety, but when enjoying plenty of possession it gives one of the two a chance to ‘join in’. Both picked their moments to do so well last night.
One suspects their defensive mettle will be tested more on Saturday than it was last night or against Watford.
Another big plus was the continuation of the Kyle Lafferty/Lewis Grabban story. Grabban’s contribution was, of course, obvious and the fact that both were goals in the ‘scruffy’ category matters not one jot. It’s been a while since we’ve had one who thrives on tap ins and ugly goals – and we’ll take that all day long.
Whether Neil Adams – a spot-kick expert back in the day – decides to keep him on penalty duty is another matter, and the postcard sent to Paul Robinson prior to last night’s effort will also have been noted. The manager confirmed to Chris Goreham post-match that he would be ‘having a word’. Good idea.
But three goals so far this season is a record that is certainly not to be sneezed at and is one a certain Dutchman would have given anything for. It’s still early days, but the signs for Master Grabban are good.
And Lafferty continues to thrill and entertain the faithful. His energy and desire has already won over those who baulked at the less than wholesome reputation with which he arrived and all that’s been missing from him so far is a goal. But it feels like it’s not far away and I know just the perfect time and place.
Before I finish eulogising over last night’s win (I could also get used to this…) the late cameo of Josh Murphy is worthy of a mention. While it’s unfair to compare the impact of an ‘impact sub’ to one who started the game, there is no question that more of the same from the FA Youth Cup hero will heap pressure on Adams to consider giving him a start.
Nathan Redmond would be well advised to fine tune that final ball else he could be the one to make way.
But it was a good night of few negatives and after a fairly subdued first-half in the stands, the second half had the old place rocking. And it was great. Gowers Junior approved.
As ever, it’s important not to get carried away in the euphoria of victory and there are challenges aplenty ahead before the cigars and carpet slippers can be considered – starting at the weekend.
On Saturday lunchtime 10,000 missing football supporters will reveal themselves. A whole tribe from deepest Suffolk who had fallen out of love with the beautiful game will, for three or four hours only, rekindle that passion. And all in the name of Norwich City.
It promises to be feisty. Three years festering over a 9-2 walloping is a long time. Those in yellow who are already shouting loudly should really consider keeping their powder dry.
And for City it will undoubtedly be a test. As Tom Haylett – sportswriter extraordinaire and part of the MyFootballWriter family – said on Twitter last night: ‘Away form the difference between promotion and mid-table for #ncfc this season. Will win plenty at home playing attacking football.’
Well said Tom. I couldn’t put it better myself.
On the Ball City…