Many years of being a Norwich supporter have taught me not to look too far ahead; to remember that there’s always disappointment around the corner; to brace yourself for a rough ride and (obviously) to expect nothing at Hillsborough.
And then they go and win 4-0… at Hillsborough… to make it four league wins on the spin… and go top of the league…
How am I supposed to keep a lid on things and everything in perspective after that?
So, sod it… I won’t.
First things first though, and going top of the league – as we all know – means chuff all as things stand. It’s nice to be able to sing the songs, feel the temporary buzz and fire a shot across the bows of those who have previously scoffed at our top-six credentials, but with 30 games remaining it’s a little early to plan the route for the open-top bus tour.
Yet all the common sense and logic in the world cannot detract from what happened in Sheffield yesterday afternoon. There were hoodoos being busted left, right and centre and all done via 45 minutes of Farkeball at its finest.
That Mario Vrancic came first in his competition with Jordan Rhodes for the World’s Softest Penalty ultimately mattered not one iota – although that is something that needs addressing – and more telling was his contribution to goals numbers three and four, when his eye for a beautifully weighted pass came into its own.
What we now have on our hands is a fascinating fight for the supporting role to Teemu Pukki (or Rhodes), with both Vrancic and Marco Stierpermann fulfilling that function superbly in recent weeks but in very different ways. The Bosnian with his touch and finesse, the German with his power and drive but, significantly, both fitting perfectly into the refined passing game Daniel Farke demands.
But this is just one example. All over the pitch, with the possible exceptions of left-back and in goal, there is an incumbent in the shirt who has made it his own but another on the bench who is simply itching for a sniff of the action – even more so when those who are missing through injury are available again.
And the whole squad has bought into what is happening, each and every one able to slot into the framework of a system that is producing some of the most sublime football seen in these parts for some time. Without fail, every game at the moment produces an online clip of sumptuous, slick passing football that concludes in a City goal.
I was drooling a couple of weeks ago when watching Arsenal serve up some football from the gods against Leicester at the Emirates but, albeit one division lower, City are now doing something similar. In describing City’s football in Munich on that famous night in 1993 John Motson used the term ‘fantasy football’. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen some more – am sure Motty would concur.
Yet, such is its silkiness, the Norwich supporter I described in the opening paragraph fails to see how these levels can be maintained and fears that, while we may be beyond the bubble-bursting stage, there will be some Championship managers successfully hatching plans to disrupt Farkeball.
If a promotion push is to be maintained, then winning ‘ugly’ will also need to become a vital part of the armoury.
But it’s good to see the head coach getting the plaudits and also good to see many who were either calling for his sacking, or were on the cusp of calling for it, now admitting they had jumped the gun. He’s a classy guy who never wilted, even in the face of some pretty heavy criticism, and is now reaping the rewards of 18 solid months of educating, cajoling and nurturing.
It feels in many ways as though said 18 months has one been one prolonged rehearsal of what we’re seeing now. As though those afternoons of tedium and nothingness were just part of the process to get to where we are today. Rubbish of course, but in the afterglow of yesterday’s win that’s how it feels.
And there’s no doubting that Team Farke have had to adapt their ideologies to accommodate the peculiarities of the Championship – and have settled on a way of playing that sees us still dominate possession but with extra zip and verve.
When it clicks, as well as being beautiful on the eye, it makes us an irresistible force going forward – regardless of the opposition – and with two-centre backs who, right now, appear as if they can read each other’s minds and with simply the best full-back pairing in the league, that’s why we are where we are.
And long may it continue.
As mentioned, there is the small matter of us now being on everyone’s radar and being there to be metaphorically shot at, but here’s where Farke and co can add another string to the collective bow – by finding a way to remain effective even against those whose sole purpose is to scupper and disrupt Farkeball.
Tick that final box and we really could be on the cusp of something quite special.