And there’s me moaning we’ve had no ‘YouTube’ moments this season…
Thankfully good old Alex Tettey’s howitzer has provided one and if season 2013/14 does, as predicted, fade quickly in the memory, there’ll be at least one moment of brilliance recorded for posterity.
But it wasn’t just about Tettey’s goal. It was also about folded sheets of cardboard.
One should never decry the power of the clapper. Love them or hate them, there’s no denying they do add a certain something to the atmosphere – and as a River-Ender I should know.
While the Barclay and Snake Pit are more than capable of generating their own noise, the dear old N&P (and the Jarrold Stand for that matter) needs a little help on occasions. Step forward the clapper. Artificial noise it may be; annoying they most certainly are; but if they help…
In truth of course it was the players who created the atmosphere and from minute one it was clear they were ‘on it’. For all our perceived faults (didn’t you just know Shearer would have to wade in at some stage) the Carrow Road crowd is a knowledgeable beast and was quick to seize upon the Canaries high-tempo, high-intensity opening.
And that set the tone for the afternoon. The tackles were snapped in, the ball was zipped around with precision, the movement was good and, crucially, the game was played on the front foot with intent. In short, the very antithesis of the St Mary’s performance.
For the second week running Chris Hughton made five changes. Last week it evoked a horror show. This time round it worked like a dream and credit to the City boss in that regard. He was rightly pilloried for last week’s performance so it’s clearly just that he should be applauded for getting it right.
The changes made to the starting XI were of the bold variety and immediately signaled an attacking intent. To play two up top AND Wes Hoolahan was a massive call and one that, had it back-fired, would have been dissected by pundits and supporters alike. But it did work… beautifully. Fortune did favour the brave.
I wrote in my match preview of the high regard in which Wes is held in the North East and he didn’t disappoint. He was magnificent yesterday and those dancing feet were at their at their mesmerising best.
Much of the pre-match talk was around how the Dubliner would be accommodated in an XI that included two other strikers, most agreeing that if Hoolahan were to be deployed as a left-winger it wouldn’t work.
Many have tried and failed in their quest to get the best out of Wes as an out-and-out winger but we needn’t have worried. Instead, while his defensive duties involved providing support to Martin Olsson, Hughton offered him virtually the freedom of the pitch, and he used it superbly.
And while Wes was the heartbeat of the side, the supporting roles played by Messrs Snodgrass, Howson and Tettey meant the midfield functioned probably better than it has done at any time this season. First to every loose ball, victorious in every 50/50 and in complete control.
The return to fitness of Howson can’t be underestimated. Clearly it’s taken him a few weeks to gain full match fitness but he looks to be there now and we’re a better side for it. His ability to not just cover the ground and do the dirty work , but also prompt, probe and create proved priceless yesterday; those thrusting runs through the middle something that has been absent from the City armoury for most of the season.
But it’s almost unfair to single out individuals as yesterday’s was a team effort in every sense of the word. While Ricky continues to divide opinion – and he does desperately need to take one of his chances sooner or later – he certainly put in a shift, and Elmander without question chose yesterday for his best performance in the yellow and green.
The goals may have, rather typically, come from midfield but those two – and Gary Hooper late on – contributed massively to the victory.
So, when it really mattered, Hughton again pulled a rabbit out of the hat. He seemingly saves his best for when the chips are on the floor. The trick now is clearly not to rely on Carrow Road must-win, clapper-ridden occasions for such performances, but to make them the norm. If not the norm, at least more frequent.
It’s easy to get a little euphoric after such an important win (I think I just did) but as we’re often reminded, ‘it’s all about the next game’. Yesterday’s elation will soon subside and all eyes will focus on the Liberty Stadium; the likelihood being another nail-biter.
The seven point buffer from the relegation zone looks healthy enough if you ignore the ‘games played’ column but with a few below City having games in hand there is still plenty of work to be done.
But just for now we should enjoy the moment, or moments. There have been all too few special ones this season but yesterday provided a few. From the spine tingling ovation afforded the 92-year-old war veteran through to the results of our relegation rivals filtering through it was a rare day of few negatives.
Even Alan Shearer’s, “I sometimes wonder what they expect down there…” was insufficient to get the heckles to rise… and that just about says it all.
We asked them to “Never mind the danger”. Yesterday they delivered.
David Bowen says
Thanks Gary, as usual a very enjoyable read! The clappers do seem to make a difference, but the biggest difference yesterday was all the players, every one of them, decided to turn up and play! The fact that they are the same players that CH has been blamed for their poor performances, proves to me that it was never CH’s fault in the first place!
No doubt I’ll be shouted down by the “outers” but I know what I believe!
Morris C. says
I think you (and the rest of us) can be excused a day or two’s euphoria (tinged with relief) after that welcome win. Don’t forget Hooper’s blast against Swansea for the youtube collection but Tettey’s was better – other than the Fash’s wonder goal all those years back against the mighty Scousers, has there been a better goal scored at Carrow Road?..well, has there?
Swansea will be a wounded animal next week after their recent slide but hopefully we won’t try to park the old yellow and green bus which has had too many outings of late on foreign soil.
For now, the table looks rather nice and to choose a cliche from my bumper book of footballing cliches, it’s better to have the points in the bag rather than games in hand (hopefully).
we had a midfield full of energy with tetty hoolehan and howson brill
Dave B says
The first half was probably the best we’ve played in a year. No complaints.
Okay, one. We need to start Hooper ahead of RVW. It’s getting silly.
Tetteys goal was very similar to Goss’s goal he scored at Leeds.
Arnold Layne says
I thought the Shearer remark would raise a few hackles but coming from someone of his unquestionable status in the game, I can take it..Danny Mills on the other hand..
Safri’s goal against Newcastle (2005) was a bit further out than Tettey’s but off the floor – the volley wins it every time.
First time we have gone with only one winger, what a difference, Olson covered that by getting forward and we then had the extra man in midfield, with 2 up front. Pity it’s taken so long to realise 2 attacking wingers are a luxury we can’t afford. Now CH don’t go back to it.
Stewart Lewis says
The victory at Stoke in September showed us how potent Tettey and Howson could be together. Injuries promptly took that option away from Hughton for four months; yesterday reminded us why it was his first choice. Wes is the – tasty – icing on the cake.
Gary’s got it right: (i) Hughton deserves as much credit for the good performances as criticism for the disappointing ones; and (ii) there’s a way to go yet before we’re safe. Hughton sympathisers like me have to acknowledge that our hopes have been raised by good performances before, only to be dashed by poor ones the next week. Their challenge is to break that cycle. Now would be a good time.
Douglas Millar says
The midfield was as good as any since we lost the trio of Tettey, Fer, and Howson. Howson quickens up the tempo giving the opposing defence no time to set itself. This also allows Hoolahan to move forwards rather than receiving the ball standing still, where he can be crowded out.
The formation for Swansea is important. They will dominate if we let them. A win or a draw will keep up the momentum and the City will be well set for the WBA game. A result at Fulham would be the icing on the cake! OTBC
Bob in Diss says
What is all this cake icing business? I blame Mary Berry. Villa getting tonked by Stoke – now that really is a recipe for perfect icing on the yummiest of weekend footballing delights.
Dave B(4) – that ‘no complaints’ – I think I could hear the gnashing of teeth from here. Any credit to CH for that win?
Dave B says
@10 Bob in Diss
As I said, no complaints. I also have long enough memory to know that every time we’ve had a good result we’ve gone on to have three of four stinkers. So forgive me if I don’t pop the corks yet.
There appears to be a strange perception that outers want us to lose. We want better than what we’ve been getting (which has been very poor).
I always want us to win and am having a very good weekend kicked off by the result. We wouldn’t be having the usual 3-4 weeks of stories like ‘who is to blame if we go down’ if this wasn’t a freak occurrence.
If we play like yesterday through the end of the season then we could consider seeing Hughton in the hotseat again next season. Let’s see.
Russell S. says
Thank you Stoke for a 10/10 weekend’s football – I’m thinking…cherry-icing-cake. Stoke couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo at ours so to concede 4 at home to them is truly shameful.
We’ve got a good record at Swansea so let’s be positive there please – leave the ‘bus’ in the garage.
Stewart Lewis says
Dave B: some outers have openly and repeatedly said they want us to lose, in order to hasten Hughton’s exit. But only some – there are many exceptions, including you.
Flicky Licky says
@ C Morris – Safri v Toon
I know plenty of CH doubters but none who want us to lose. And I did not see anyone around me yesterday who did not celebrate the goals and the win.
The home league performances in 2014 have not always been as pretty as yesterday but the results are beginning to look impressive. We have let in just one goal, a penalty, and the 6 games have produced 12 points. Turn around the away form (just one point and 15 goals conceded in the 6 games) over the next 4 games and CH might just be staying?
at last…the team pushed further up the pitch and put the opposition under pressure. The only disappointment was RVW not having his break in front of goal. Other than this a really top performance.
I will happily change my mind on Hughton if he continues to push forward rather than sit back. we just look a far more dangerous proposition.
The only change i’d make if we continue to push forward? Hooper for Elmander. As i’d like to see a partnership blossom when we play on the front foot and a decision will have to be made when Fer returns as i think he is our biggest midfield threat when attacking. Anyway….happy days 🙂