City boss Glenn Roeder revealed his greatest delight at tonight's 3-1 win over Blackpool – the fact that he could send every Canary supporter home to Norfolk with a big, broad grin on their faces.
“That's one of the greatest pleasures that I get personally – sending our own supporters home happy,” said the new City chief, after watching Dion Dublin's second strike of the night deep into injury time wrap up a huge away win.
One that found heroes littering the pitch – not least Norwich keeper David Marshall whose superb, 80th minute penalty save kept City 2-1 ahead. Both skipper Jason Shackell and his defensive side-kick Martin Taylor were outstanding – the latter doing his new-found hero status no harm at all with the second-half diving header that put the visitors in sight of their first away win in nine, miserable months.
It did, said Roeder, start to make amends for Norwich's awful no-show at Plymouth just over a fortnight ago. Since then, two weeks of hard graft on the training ground, three fresh loan faces and six, big, beautiful Championship points have put City firmly on “an upward curve”.
“We were so poor and let them down so badly at Plymouth,” he said, with the Carrow Road club hitting rock bottom 350 miles away from home courtesy of that wretched 3-0 defeat in Roeder's third game in charge.
“To travel all that way and see a performance – or rather there wasn't a performance; it was a non-performance – it must have been absolutely awful for them. And that was the least that we owed them tonight. To put on a winning performance away from home and on an equally long, long journey.”
City now face a mere six-hour round trip to the Britannia Ground, Stoke, this weekend. Even a point could take them off the bottom if Preston's free-fall continues; a win and the reborn Canaries could blast out of the bottom three altogether if results fall their way elsewhere.
Roeder, however, wasn't taking anything for granted. Norwich will have to dig further Blackpool-style results out on their travels if mid-table security is ever to be reached.
“There have got to be plenty more of those this year – it's just the start,” said the City chief, fast penning his own chapter in legend if Norwich's dramatic turnaround in fortunes continues into Christmas and the New Year.
“We've had a very, very slow start to the season and we found ourselves in a real tight spot and we're now – gradually – starting to get ourselves out of that tight spot. But I won't let them rest on their laurels.
“The hard work has only just begun. Because of that poor, poor start to the season there is a long, long way to go. And we cannot afford any slips.”
Tonight's performance wasn't without its flaws. Blackpool enjoyed long periods of possession and Marshall's penalty heroics aside, the Seasiders also hit a post through the slippery Wes Hoolihan.
But with the 38-year-old Dublin doubling his tally for the season with a smart, near post finish from an in-swinging Matty Pattison corner and a sharp, low drive deep into injury time Norwich have certainly rediscovered their goal-scoring touch. And in Taylor they have found a new and forceful presence in both penalty areas.
Likewise, credit to to Darren Huckerby whose 52nd minute arrival after his recent, three-match ban put Blackpool firmly on the back foot. They had little or no answer to his searing pace on the counter – it was his weaving run into the heart of the Seasiders' box that eventually forced the corner from which Taylor angled his knee-high header home. By the end, with Lee Croft on the opposite flank and Ched Evans starting to get to grips with Championship football alongside the ageless Dublin, Norwich were throwing caution firmly to the wind. And reaping their due reward as a result.
“We have to go for it,” said Roeder, after throwing Huckerby, Croft and Evans into the mix. “It's important that we win games – it makes a massive difference three points.
“And I'd said to them before the game that I'm not settling for anything other than a win because if I say I'm happy with a draw, then if we lose the game we've pulled up short. So it's a win only, boys – there's no other result that's on offer here tonight.”
Had Norwich seen two of those points ripped out of their hands courtesy of that 80th minute penalty, Roeder would not have been a happy man. He wasn't that happy with the penalty award with the three points to his name.
“I've looked at it on the video – I looked at it straight away when I got back into the dressing room – and it is impossible to be a penalty,” said Roeder, as Jon Otsemobor slammed into ball first, then player, down in the corner of the Norwich box. Right in front of the home fans, Roeder noted.
“It is a fantastic challenge by Jon – he quickens up; it's a block tackle. The problem is that he's probably three times bigger than the lad he tackles and, of course, his sheer force of winning the ball and then carrying through has left the lad in a heap,” said the City boss, about to have a quiet word in the ear of referee Mark Haywood.
“The referee didn't agree with me, but I did happen to mention that it happened down the home crowd's end and everyone in the stand jumped up and roared that they thought it was a penalty. And sometimes you need referees to be braver.”