I didn’t venture into the wacky world of #ITFC late last night but I’ve no doubt it was full of our little blue friends berating folk north of the border for celebrating another 1-1 draw.
But no, good people of that small town to the south. Wrong. We were celebrating scoring twice in one game. Twice! Imagine it.
It doesn’t happen often, period. But away from home… I can only muster Birmingham, Reading and Villa (if that even counts) in league games.
That’s not intended as a criticism by the way – that would be particularly churlish off the back of City’s best performance of the season – but an observation. We simply don’t score enough goals and that part of the project is very much a work-in-progress.
On the flip side, at the start of the season, Daniel Farke spoke of his desire to play a possession based game, with his team dominating the ball and enjoying big numbers in terms of the stats. Early on in the season, he would often quote those very numbers – less so of late.
As it transpired, in the season’s opening exchanges, City – somewhat ironically – had more success in the games where possession was at a premium, where they were forced to play a counter-attacking game. I wondered at the time how comfortably this sat with Farke.
But things have changed. Last night, faced with the champions-elect who are already on the procession to their eventual coronation and who have an expensively acquired squad of Prem-quality technicians, City did just as Farke had promised – 56 per-cent of the ball.
Add into the mix the fact that it wasn’t square balls played between Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmermann and Timm Klose that made up the bulk of that stat, but instead neat, pass-and-move football that was played in the Wolves half.
As ever, clear-cut chances remained few and far between but inspired by our own master technicians – Messrs Maddison and Leitner – we probed and probed in a way that would have had the Head Coach purring with contentment.
That City had to respond to a torrid opening 20-minutes that had seen the PSG of the Championship (Dan O’Hagan’s words, not mine) roar into what felt an unassailable lead made what happened in the following 73 all the more impressive.
Not only was this a story of technical excellence; even more impressive was the mental resolve that saw them clear their heads almost immediately after N’Diaye put Wolves 2-0 up.
Key to it all, of course, was City’s almost immediate reply and in a season in which he’s grown and grown, Zimmermann’s header was the undoubted catalyst for this impressive comeback. A third goal or even a spell of consolidation would only have ended in a Wolves win – the Yellow Army had the towel ready – but this group are made of sterner stuff than us.
Even in last night’s second half, the Wolves of Wolverhampton had enough chances to put the game to bed but some courageous defending – Zimmermann’s face, in particular, being used in a John Terry-style – coupled with some sloppiness in front of goal gave City a sniff.
It took until the 93rd minute for the probing to finally pay off but when Nelson Oliveira – on for the gutsy but often stranded Dennis Sbreny – took aim from 35-yards and fizzed one inside John Ruddy’s left-hand post it was no more than City deserved.
That the Big Man went down in instalments with the ball heading inside the foot of his post is something my dad will remind me later – a recurring theme in his appraisal of Ruddy’s Norwich tenure.
But it wasn’t about Ruddy’s error, or even Nelson’s rediscovering his shooting boots – however timely and glorious it was. This was City proving to themselves and us and Team Farke that this work-in-progress is exactly that – in progress. And moving forward apace.
The big caveat is that this team, which is now starting to show such promise, is only really going to be together between now and early May before parts of it are dismantled and transported to more exotic footballing outposts.
But that’s for another day, and one thing that the Webber/Farke combo has shown is an ability to mould together a cohesive unit from some unlikely sources. There’s nothing to suggest this summer’s rebuild will be any less successful than this January’s; the hard bit, however, will be replacing the high-end quality that will depart.
For now, let’s embrace what we have: a group who never know when they’re beaten, who are super-fit and who appear to seep ‘Norwich City’ from every pore.