Feels good doesn’t it? It was like waking up on the 26th and finding a present under the tree that was missed from the day before… and turns out to be the best present of the year.
The Boxing Day massacre of Millwall must have brought a smile to even the grumpiest of Scrooge-like Canaries. The long-awaited return of ‘sexy’ football to Carrow Road, climaxing with the joy of six moments that got everyone on their feet and applauding in appreciative rapture.
Holloway’s Lions didn’t put up much resistance in truth. They seemed to lack the fight and were willing to lay down, roll over and let us poke and prod almost at will. Only a brief period of foreplay ensued after the opening blast of the ref’s whistle before their defence was breached and the floodgates opened.
It was the first six-pack in the league since April 2011 when Scunthorpe similarly succumbed to City demands and let the Holt-Jackson combination put them to the sword. We stuck it to Bury in a similar fashion in the League Cup last season but that’s hardly something to brag to your mates about.
Quite a contrast to the same point in time one year ago when an early lead at home to Fulham fell flat and limp and we allowed Scott Parker to break his yearly scoring duck to give the Cottagers an all too customary 3 points over us.
The fixtures computer has been kind over recent years in terms of letting us lie in on a Boxing Day, not having to set off early for distant lands and giving us the pleasure of home comforts. Not since 2008, has the Yellow Army had to hit the road for the first game after Christmas. Then it was Crystal Palace away and didn’t end well – a 3-1 defeat.
In fact, in the last few years, we’ve had a regular Norfolk rendezvous with London clubs immediately after Christmas: Millwall, Fulham, Chelsea and Spurs, with the last three ending in a disappointing performance and blanks being fired by City.
A Boxing Day goal fest and victory sure does feel like a special treat.
But there’s little time to lie back and feel pleased with ourselves. While sensible nations such as Spain and Germany enjoy a winter break to replace burnt-out batteries and gird collective loins for a second push at glory, in England we plough on regardless with the pace picking up even more and the games coming thick and fast.
The next banana skin lies just around the corner in a tricky division when anyone (with the possible exception of Blackpool) can spring a surprise at the expense of a club higher up the rung. Even with that cautionary point in mind, let’s enjoy the fruits of the team’s labours for one more day at least.
Reading at home just a few short weeks back was the low point of the season when it seemed our world was caving in and the barrel bottom had been well and truly scrapped dry. The second half no-show which handed the Royals the points appeared to be an unpleasant watershed in a brief and soon-to-end tenure of Neil Adams.
As club employees and supporters plan their journeys for a surprisingly quick chance of Reading redemption, the Canary atmosphere has been thoroughly flushed of angst, bitterness and despair. Now we breathe in the sweet odours of positivity, hope-reborn and the sense that Adams has firmly grasped that previously elusive nettle.
It clearly helps to have a kindred spirit in the dugout – a partner who is willing to give as well as receive in order to find a satisfying formula when the next challenge appears. The arrival of Mike Phelan back in our lives has had an almost ‘Viagra-like’ effect at Carrow Road – re-invigorating flagging fortunes and drooping desires.
The ‘Phelan-good’ effect seems to be a genuine one which has revitalised the squad, restored vim and vigour and most importantly seen the back of the opposition’s net bulging once more. A solid winning formation and system seems to have been discovered at last after months of rotation and ups and downs, which would have given even Torvill and Dean a dizzy, nauseous feeling.
No doubt, there are still some out there eagerly waiting for that next slip up to reopen old wounds and once more take the chance to put forward alternative names to replace the object of their unrequited rages. Tony Pulis, and now Neil Warnock, fans will be readying themselves to push their man into the frame at the next opportunity.
After a bit of light-relief action at Preston in the FA cup, the trip to the south coast on January 10th to take on Championship-topping Bournemouth will certainly provide the stiffest of tests for Team Adams.
For now though, hopefully we can all tuck into the Christmas leftovers with more relish knowing that our team seems to have found a pleasing rhythm and there will be many more performances that will hit the sweet spot.