Neil Adams’ honeymoon period in the SkyBet Championship continued in South Wales this afternoon in no uncertain fashion as four, second-half goals delivered an extraordinary comeback and three more points on the back of a thrilling, 4-2 success.
The season of goodwill to all men in the Carrow Road hot-seat appeared to be coming to an abrupt end at the Cardiff City Stadium as two goals within the game’s opening 20 minutes floored Adams’ best-laid plans.
But strikes from Martin Olsson and Wes Hoolahan within four minutes of each other added another potential string to Adams’ bow – the thought that maybe here is a man that can turn a contest around over the course of an interval.
Which Michael Turner completed some 20 minutes from the end of a chance-strewn contest – the result propelling Norwich into the top two of the table tonight.
Half-time substitute Cameron Jerome merely added the icing on the cake with the breakaway coup de grace; Norwich’s fourth coming three minutes from the end of normal time.
From the City boss that can do no right to the Canary manager that can do no wrong in 45 minutes of social media mayhem. Such is the life of a 21st Century personality; sporting or otherwise.
“We were scratching our heads in the first-half – we really were,” Adams told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards, as his managerial star continued to ascend.
“We were nowhere near good enough. You don’t need me to tell you that – and nor did the players. But we had to tell them that at half-time. In no uncertain terms.”
It appears that nice Mr Adams does have a rocket up his sleeve; as and when the time is right. Today was just that day.
“I was anything but calm and collected,” he admitted afterwards. “But sometimes you have got to do that. Its been quite easy at times to just tinker with one or two things; the players have been brilliant for me.
“But today they needed a little bit of a rocket. And good players respond to that.”
And up their game; which was key, it appears. “The tempo wasn’t there in that first-half. That was the key for me – because the quality follows the tempo. And we showed what we’re capable of.”
Earlier Adams had included three fresh faces in his travelling party as Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Ignasi Miquel and Jos Hooiveld all made the long haul own the M4.
Only the latter started as skipper Russell Martin switched out to right back.
It took less than five minutes for the new-boy to discover that life in the SkyBet Championship was never going to be a walk in the park as Joe Ralls drilled the Bluebirds ahead.
It had been coming; the hosts had flown out of the blocks in front of the home faithful with Kenwyne Jones heading against a post from a second minute corner. Norwich’s reprieve lasted little more than a minute before Ralls’ left foot effort found the bottom corner.
In between ex-City winger Anthony Pilkington had made himself known; he would grab an assist in amidst Aron Gunnarsson’s 22nd minute strike to double Cardiff’s lead as the one-time Blackburn starlet let his feet do the talking after a less than harmonious end to his injury-plagued Canary career.
Before the break, Norwich would offer some hope that they could claw their way back into the contest as Kyle Lafferty, Bradley Johnson, Alexander Tettey and Nathan Redmond all gained various glimpses of David Marshall’s goal. To little immediate outcome.
Mr Grabban had likewise yet to figure overly-large as Norwich struggled to find either range or rhythm. The hope remained that his moment would come after the interval.
Adams at least reacted at the break; Lafferty’s day was over as Jerome was thrown into the fray.
Indeed, whatever was said – or done – in the dressing room worked a treat as two goals in the space of five minutes hauled the Norfolk side right back into contest.
Olsson grabbed the first, Hoolahan the second in the 54th and 58th minutes respectively – though it had earlier needed a decent save from John Ruddy off Federico Machedo to ensure that Cardiff weren’t wholly out of sight before the Canaries got their act together.
Grabban clearly sensed that further back page headlines were within his grasp as he led Norwich’s charge for the winner.
Three times in the space of four minutes he would take aim only to find a finish eluding him. If nothing else, Norwich were at least offering good value for the supporters’ travelling money – not something you could claim last season.
Their faith – and their financial fortunes – were, however, wholly rewarded when Turner struck City’s third in the 71st minute and Jerome added that late fourth.
Advantage Adams in the on-going ‘debate’ as to the whether the former Youth boss and radio pundit can cut the managerial mustard.
Fabulous result! At half time I thought we were stuffed and away day blues were here to stay. In my mind a massive result and a real statement from the club. I would love to have had a camera in the dressing room at half time- it seems Adams battered them. Much as Norwich did did to Cardiff in the second half…
Doing well in this division will take consistency, making sure standards don’t drop. Today was a demonstration that Adams is well aware that players can drop and sometimes need a blast, it’s good to know he’s got it.
Sky high tonight, great result
One of the many pleasing aspects of the Adams regime so far is that he’s not afraid to change his mind. Some managers are too stubborn to admit mistakes, but I think he accepts that it’s early days in his career, the team is very much work-in-progress, and the amount of games in this league allows more tinkering. The diamond was quickly ditched, and now Captain Martin has been moved from his preffered centreback position back to where everyone else, apart from Gordon Strachan, preffers to see him.
Talking of Russell Martin, I thought he looked great in advanced positions down the right yesterday. Demanding the ball, taking players on, showing the kind of quality I wondered if he had any more.
And that’s not just down to the drop in division, or the confidence that a run of victories brings. It’s also down to an attacking style of play suiting his abilities. A style which seems to be suiting everyone in yellow and green right now. Long may it continue!