A two goal blitz in as many, second-half minutes fired the Canaries to the top of the SkyBet Championship this evening as struggling Blackpool were brushed aside 3-1.
As is their wont, Neil Adams’ men proved slow, if solid starters in a lukewarm opening 45 minutes.
And, indeed, after slipping a goal behind immediately after the restart needed a helping hand from Lady Luck as Donervan Daniels levelled the scores via an own goal on 54 minutes.
But ten minutes from the end of normal time, goals from first Lewis Grabban and then substitute Josh Murphy delivered another three, big points on the road for Adams’ men.
It took the Canaries to the top of the table – something few would have thought possible after that opening day defeat at Wolves when the knives were starting to sharpen for the former Youth team boss whose appointment at the fag end of last season appeared to be back to the days of little ol Norwich.
Right now, however, and Adams’ managerial repute is soaring – even if the Canaries did produce their traditional early cup exit at Shrewsbury in mid-week. For the 1,400 fans who made the trip to the far North-West, the trip M6
The manager was swift to give the credit to his players afterwards. He would appear to know how to get a dressing room ticking. And in Messrs Grabban and Jerome he has sorted out the issue of goals – at least at this level.
The pair are already on course to grab 20-goals apiece this season – reason enough to believe that Norwich’s return to the riches of the Premier League maybe sooner rather than later as Forest’s 0-0 home draw with Brighton allowed City to ascend the summit on their own.
“It’s nice – really good,” admitted Adams afterwards, with City having barely a breather before they entertain Charlton back at Carrow Road. Time to cement that place at the top of the tree.
“I’ve always said your home form keeps you in divisions. Your away form wins you league titles and earns you promotions and things,” said the City chief, who continues to win the doubters round by the sheer force of his results. Wolves apart, Norwich have flown out of the blocks points-wise even if they have lacked certain levels of consistency over the course of individual 90 minutes.
Today was a ‘Steady Eddy’ type effort as Adams and his coaching team work towards the Canaries grinding out results – particularly away from home. First and foremost, don’t lose a game is a widely-held managerial mantra. Swash-buckling roller-coasters aren’t always to a manager’s taste.
“It wasn’t a classic for the supporters, but for a manager that’s had a few palpitations in a few games this season, perfect for us. Apart from that goal just after half-time.”
Cut out the dangerous excesses. It is going to be a long, gruelling road back to the top flight of English football. It might not be pure entertainment all the way.
“If you’d offered me the performance and the score-line at 0-0 at half-time – with us in control of the game – then I would have taken it,” he added, speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
“That’s what we want. Not entertaining; not exciting; pretty dull. Perfect. But you come and watch us and you get your money’s worth. Today it wasn’t a classic – a Cardiff or a Brentford when you’re on the edge of your seats. It was so-so. But we got what we wanted.”
Today’s events also proved the depth of the squad at Adams’ disposal as Jonny Howson made a welcome re-appearance for the game’s latter stages, though much attention was focussed on the impact that Adams’ former FA Youth Cup starlet Murphy had on his arrival for a lukewarm Wes Hoolahan.
This season has yet to find the long-standing fans’ favourite firing on every cylinder; ‘tiredness’ being cited as one of the issues.
Something that you could not lay at the door of Master Murphy who clearly brings the exuberance of youth to the party. And now has his first league goal to show for his efforts.
“I think it was 1-1 when I brought him [Murphy] on and we thought we want to go on and win the game.
“We wanted a little bit of width; a little bit more pace. Wes [Hoolahan] had done nothing wrong; was looking lively. But he stretched them just that little bit more.”
With games arriving thick and fast, that depth of squad is going to prove a huge advantage for the Norfolk club and in his two strikers have boys bang in form. He also has Gary Hooper gradually returning from injury. Today, however, he was to be found enjoying the golf at the Ryder Cup.
He was, said the manager, “75-80% off maximum”; his fitness levels will be topped up again in an Under-21 outing on Monday.