A year ago, just before the first international break of the season, Norwich produced one of the worst displays in recent years when they got thoroughly spanked by Millwall at The Den.
Sitting on the coach home that afternoon from deepest Bermondsey, I penned a scathing piece for MFW, lambasting City for their lack of defensive nous, and taking none-too-subtle swipes at Russell Martin and Marcel Franke who were the kings of chaos that day.
What followed that international break was that City went on an inspired run, climbing the Championship table, with Klose and Zimmermann dominating at the back and shoring us up. The run culminated in a quality evening at The Emirates where a fearless Canary outfit had a really good go at knocking out a Premier League giant.
So, you would have thought that I’d have learned my lesson.
But oh no. Driven to distraction by Farke’s admission that the uber-negative performance against Preston at the end of August had been a deliberate tactic to give us confidence in retaining the ball, I went off again, slamming Farke for the lack of progress made.
I couldn’t see where we were going. There was no coherent means of moving the ball forward, we were shoehorning two strikers into a system that only accommodated one, and our defence was looking as leaky as it was at the end of last season when we were being battered by the might of Sheffield bloody Wednesday.
A loss to Leeds, a spirited win away against a half-cooked Cardiff reserves in the cup, and a low-quality derby draw saw us head into the international break this year, with a record of 1 win, 2 draws and 3 defeats, strikingly similar to last season’s 1 win, 1 draw and 3 defeats.
Following the international break, injury to Grant Hanley meant reuniting Klose and Zimmermann, which, like it did a year ago, instilled some Germanic grit and efficiency alongside Swiss flair and a dependency to match their cuckoo clocks.
With City progressing once more in the Carabou Cup to a last sixteen clash away at Premier League opposition, the parallels to last season are remarkable.
Farke’s challenge now is to avoid the post-Arsenal hangover of last year which saw us drift back into mid-table obscurity for the rest of an inconsistent season.
Achieve the current level of progress and he might just shut up a few loudmouths… like me.
One of the most impressive aspects of the recent upturn for me has been the way the squad has stepped up. If you look at the names on the team sheet for the past month, there’s a fair amount that would have been more than surprises at the start of the season.
Max Aarons, Christoph Zimmermann, Todd Cantwell and Marco Stiepermann were expected to be squad fillers this season, and to see all of them become regulars in a successful side together is unexpected, to say the least. Add in the fact that our marquee striker signing of the summer has been displaced by a Finnish freebie and it’s even more improbable.
With players of the quality of Hanley, Hernandez, Marshall and McLean to return, and Rhodes, Godfrey, Trybull and Srbeny on the bench through no fault of their own, and champing at the bit to get game time, the future is looking good.