City boss Glenn Roeder revealed that yesterday's 2-0 win over Coventry City “meant the world to him” as the Canaries, potentially, began to haul themselves back from the brink.
Goals either side of the interval from Luke Chadwick and Jamie Cureton left the Norfolk side four points away from safety – five given their appalling goal difference.
More importantly, however, in terms of fighting spirit, genuine endeavour and all-round togetherness they aren't a million miles away from where Roeder wants them to be just four weeks into his new regime.
Certainly come the second-half as the tackles and challenges began to fly, the new City chief sensed a unity of purpose and belief – on the pitch and in the stands – that could yet serve the Canaries well going into that crucial Christmas spell.
Simply walking through the dressing room door after the final whistle gave Roeder a real sense of a club on the mend.
“The atmosphere nearly blew back out through the door,” said Roeder, after City's first win in 12 games finally got the dressing room rocking.
“It's the sort of atmosphere that if you're a footballer you want every time you go out to play because it's a winning atmosphere – I didn't need to say too many words. It wasn't the right time.
“It was just the right time to let the boys enjoy a win and the atmosphere that is created by a win.”
The final result was all that the Canaries deserved for a performance that was rich in commitment and passion, if short on clear-cut chances.
The return of Mark Fotheringham got the ball moving across the pitch with greater purpose, while Darel Russell snapped at every Sky Blue ankle put before him.
Martin Taylor's efforts at centre-back helped keep Dele Adebola under wraps, while new loan signing Matty Pattison could walk away with two big assists to his name – the cross to Dion Dublin that was touched back to Chadwick for Norwich's first and the low centre that an unmarked Cureton gleefully lifted into the roof of the net to seal the points 13 minutes from the end.
“They're good players – they've just lost their way,” said Roeder afterwards. “And it was only a matter of time before their confidence will come flooding back.
“But as I've said before, a win will be the best team talk I could possibly give and that's how it has turned out.”
The reward for yesterday's success came in the shape of an unexpected day off today – one to enjoy with their friends and families, said Roeder.
As for himself, he was clearly delighted to have sent 24,000 punters into the bars and clubs of the city with rather more of a spring in their step after racking up his first success as manager of the struggling Norfolk club.
“It means everything to me,” he said. “Because it's my first win as manager of Norwich City and I shall never forget that. I'm no different from anyone else – I live for winning.
“We're in professional sport – I don't live for draws; certainly not losing games. I live for winning like every other professional sportsman should do.”
He also lives for passing the ball – hence Fotheringham's swift return to the first team fold after just 65 minutes of reserve team action following his own ankle ligament woes. That was another of Roeder's post-match commitments – to be a footballing side. Come what may.
“We've got a squad of players that want to pass the ball and I want a team that passes the ball,” said the City chief, delighted that his new charges had that courage to keep passing the ball – despite their precarious position staring over the edge of the Championship abyss.
“There's no future in long ball football – for me or for this football club. Our supporters want winning football, but they also want to be entertained and I think we've sent them home happy tonight and that pleases me greatly as well.”
Roeder has clearly been impressed by the manner in which 24,000 supporters have stuck to the cause of late. Granted those first three games in which to discover just what Peter Grant had left him, yesterday's clash with Coventry was for most Roeder's 'first' game on which he would be judged.
He did, after all, have three of 'his' players playing in Taylor, Pattison and Mo Camara. A fourth sat on the bench in the shape of youngster Ched Evans.
The evident improvement should give all cause for hope. The fact that, for now, Roeder has such a solid bed-rock of support onthe terraces bodes well – even if one or two still want some answers elsewhere.
“I just think its unbelievable the support that we get – it's bordering on amazing to be bottom of the Championship and have the amount of people that watch us and stand by us,” said Roeder, likely to be granted the Freedom of the City should he haul the Canaries out of the bottom three by the New Year.
Likewise, he will also be granted a free drink in every pub and club in the city given the smiling trade he's sending their way.
“One of the greatest pleasures that I'll have tonight is knowing that we've sent over 24,000 Norwich City supporters away from this ground – for once – to enjoy a Saturday night and a Sunday in a way that I'm sure we will.”
It was, certainly, an excellent way for Fotheringham to return to the fray – his sheer enthusiasm for the game has already won him a big admirer in the City boss.
“I thought he was fantastic – I thought there was a real good partnership in the making there between him and Darel Russell,” said Roeder, with two places seemingly sorted for Tuesday night's trip to fellow strugglers Blackpool.
“He (Fotheringam) was first back into the dressing room after the game and he nearly had tears in his eyes through the emotion of winning a game for Norwich City.
“And that's the type of people that we want.”
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