Seven up for City on a bizarre afternoon when the misery and gloom was temporarily liftedSun 9 Apr 17 by Gary Gowers
In a season where the negatives have sadly outweighed the positives it’s odd to be looking for an opening gambit that doesn’t bemoan the state of the defending, the decision making or lack of cojones, but other than conceding one goal – something that tends to happen in football matches – I’m struggling.
And how nice is that.
Actually, to be fair, all of the above have predominantly been traits of your average away-day performance and if home form was the only barometer that mattered we’d indeed be contemplating the play-offs – but the home wins have tended to be against those we expect to beat.
Of the teams above us only Derby have departed Carrow Road pointless and so to put fourth-placed Reading to the sword in such emphatic fashion was, in the greater scheme of things, astonishing.
As it transpired, those hoping for a window of opportunity to unleash their wrath were to be disappointed and the general mood as the folk filtered out at the end of the game was an odd mix of joy, mild amusement and bewilderment.
Joy because we’d just witnessed our team score six goals in a single half of football; something not done by any collection of Canaries since 1908 and which is usually the preserve of Sunday morning football when the opposition have been on it the night before.
Mild amusement because there was something very Norwich City about waiting until the season’s effectively over before choosing to tear your opponents of the day limb from limb in the most brutal and destructive way possible.
And bewilderment because simply no-one could really believe what they’d just witnessed.
It was a performance and an afternoon for which there is no category and one that just has to be regarded as a one-off and savoured.
That they were able to find a performance of such excellence as we near the end of a season that has been notable mainly for its varying degrees of misery tells us that hidden behind the scowls, frowns, pointed-fingers and apathy there was always a team capable of winning at this level.
But, for reasons too numerous to mull over yet again, they have been unable to collectively muster the wherewithal to consistently do it when it really matters.
Why, as a group, they were able to muster it yesterday when for much of the season it remained elusive is one for the psychologists but Russell Martin did offer a few clues in an emotional post-match interview with ‘Norfolk’s’ Chris Goreham.
Russ spoke of his desire to honour the memory of Peter Oldfield – the club stalwart who sadly passed away in March – and also of a personal desire to respond to those who have questioned his credentials to wear the shirt.
And as one who falls into that category, the cupping of the ears after the skip has scored his goal was a deserved touché moment and hats off to him for that. Massive respect too for his touching gesture at the end of the game when he gave his shirt to the Oldfield family.
He’s a good, decent guy, of that there’s no doubt, and is one who cares passionately about this football club – something that can’t be said of too many in the dressing room I suspect. Whether or not he’s the future is an entirely different question, and one for another day.
But let’s not underestimate the Stuart Webber factor.
While I have no doubt it was a side picked and managed – and managed well it has to be said – by Alan Irvine, now there is a sporting director in the house, who has made clear the need for a summer turnover of players, there’s finally someone there for the current group to impress.
Master Webber, who cut an impressive figure in his Friday round of interviews, also made abundantly clear his integral role in the recruitment process and so will already be evaluating and scrutinising the suitability of the current crop and how or if they fit into his brave new world.
And when your future is so evidently on the line that doesn’t half focus the mind. And it clearly did focus the mind.
The model that Webber embedded so successfully at Huddersfield, and is now looking to implement here, is one that obviously relies on key personnel performing to a high level but it’s one that if done correctly will offer a platform beyond the short term.
It’s one that needs buy-in from the very top to the very bottom of the hierarchy and one that will, and it’s an ugly word, require patience from those of us on the outside. At the moment it’s a club in limbo.
But yesterday offered a brief respite from the gloom and angst and a day that could have turned ugly – especially if City had conceded an early goal - was in the end at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, with old and young, in the form of Messrs Hoolahan and Pritchard, thrusting their CVs under the SD’s nose.
It was fun – and I haven’t typed that for a while.