It was bound to happen – a strong winning run and the faithful have been whipped into a frenzy of excitement and expectation.
We’ve given two strong outfits, Wolves and Watford, a good spanking in February. Feels good doesn’t it?
After a somewhat painful late-2014/early-2015, when it felt like we were flogging a dead horse and promotion seemed as elusive as a Higgs boson, at last the chains have been loosened and the team is expressing itself.
Alex Neil has instilled a strong ethic of control and discipline throughout the side while showing an imaginative flair for formation and personnel rotation, with all of the squad willing to play their role.
With Neil looking increasingly assured in his methods and style, the McNally bashers have been gagged into silence – for the time being at least.
Manager and players seem to have found a formula for dominating the opposition, stifling their desires and ultimately making them submit to the yellow and green will.
Seb Bassong and Lewis Grabban most notably have crept out of the murky shadows of the ‘naughty corner’ at Carrow Road and have forced their way back into the thick of the action.
Their punishment of temporary exile for bad behaviour and form seems to have made them come back stronger and with an appetite for retribution at the expense of the opposition.
Hell, even Steven Whittaker has dusted himself off after that bout of unpleasant abuse received against Brentford when taking up an awkward position in the face of suspensions and injuries.
I’m guessing that some of those who dished it out to him will take the credit – no pain, no gain as it were. They shouldn’t but since that bruising experience Whitts has shown a steely resolve that has won back the respect of all but the most cocksure and cruel.
Of course we all need to show a measure of restraint. Nothing is won yet but we’ve clawed our way back into the promotion chase after some torturous experiences against supposed weaker foes.
Those nasty scars inflicted by the pitiful Reading and Preston defeats at the tatty end of the Neil Adams regime are not forgotten but have all but healed. Pleasure rather than pain is now the overwhelming sensation emanating from the terraces, message-boards and social media circles.
That can all change in an instant of course with a slip at Ewood Park in mid-week but irrespective of events there, Carrow Road will be a bubbling cauldron of heightened, bristling East Anglian passion and pride as McCarthy’s boys in blue stumble cross the border to rattle sabres.
While 50 may be a bit of an exaggeration, the number of emotional shades of sensation experienced by the bunch of masochists who fly the yellow and green flag has spanned the whole gamut of desire and despondency.
Was it ever thus? Maybe, but somehow this season seems to have been particularly prickly with emotions hither and thither and tolerance levels especially sensitive. That’s the lust for the big boys’ playground no doubt and the perceived need to leave the ‘Chumpionship’ behind tout de suite before getting bogged down in another mire of mediocrity.
It’s been a footballing war and consequently a number of casualties have fallen by the wayside.
Reports of Neil Adams turning up in Portugal assisting the England youth squad point to his determination to bounce back; his love of the game undiminished by the barbs inflicted by an unforgiving crowd.
Also ex-coach Mark Robson – remember him? Now dug in to the dugout at Villa Park along with ex-Canary Tim Sherwood who replaced the pale and tired version of Paul Lambert.
But where will Lambo turn up next? I hear Peterborough are on the hunt for a new manager… watch this space for developments at London Road. Stranger things have happened.
What of Mike Phelan? At one point he had seemed a cert to rule the Canaries roost once Adams had been sent packing. He’s now at the side of another former Carrow Road favourite, Steve Bruce, up in the outlandishly awarded UK City of Culture 2017, where apparently “every day truly means something”.
Phelan seems to have had a similar galvanising effect on the Tigers already as he showed in his brief return to Carrow Road. That win and those points at Bournemouth, which were largely under his control, could prove to be pivotal.
The time for true reflection is the summer of course. No trophies have been handed out yet. Promotion and relegation are still all to play for as the worst of the winter recedes and the first daffodils of spring begin to pop up.
However, with the top three or four looking vulnerable and not invincible all of a sudden, the automatic promotion nettle is within grasp.
Despite any pain endured to date, in the words of the Marquis de Sade, “it is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure.”
Sounds good to me.