It’s a little too easy to get carried away after a win like last night’s. With that feeling of euphoria and with the adrenalin pumping human nature invariably takes over. The eulogies organically flow from the tongue and keyboard.
To try and desist is futile.
So I won’t.
There was so much about last night that was thrilling it’s hard to know where to begin, other than to say to have negotiated the archetypal ‘cold, miserable, Tuesday night in Lancashire’ in such fashion sent out an emphatic message to those around us in the promotion hunt.
Six of the top eight were at home to eminently beatable opposition They all delivered. But you can bet your life that each and every one would have been aware of the difficulty of the task facing City.
Few would have fancied the aforementioned night of potential jeopardy in Blackburn. And, with all of them winning, they would have been buoyed by the news that the Canaries were behind at half-time.
Imagine the scene therefore when news filtered through that City hadn’t just scraped a point, but had snaffled all three. Perhaps not a full-on blow to the solar plexus for Messrs McCarthy, Warburton, Jokanovic and co but a definite a glancing blow to the wotsits.
The scene at Portman Road upon the announcement was, I’m sure, priceless.
The Alex Neil-factor is now inescapable.
In truth most of us were a little sceptical upon his arrival. Yes, of course his fledgling CV made impressive reading, and anyone who can shake the lethargy out of Celtic when armed with a shoestring budget must have a little something, but we knew so little about him.
Within less than a week we knew he could talk the talk. But then again so could Peter Grant – in very similar tones – and so too Neil Adams. Paul Lambert also probably talked a good game but it was always a little difficult to tell.
After a few good early results – the watershed afternoon against Brentford aside – it was clear he had made a decent start in his new job. But was it all part of the new manager bounce? The honeymoon period?
The cynics said yes. The optimists prayed.
Yet, bit by bit, week by week it is gradually dawning on us that this bloke has more than a little something about him. Seven wins from nine games is one hell of a honeymoon period. The good run that we all hoped for is here, happening now. Every hurdle being put before the Class of 2015 is now being tackled head on.
We have been telling ourselves all season that this squad is a capable one. Even in the midst of some very dark days we knew that, despite some very valiant efforts to disguise it, there were some good players there fighting to get out. And now, thanks to some shrewd thinking delivered by some brusque Scottish tones they are revealing themselves.
Exactly how it has been achieved will stay in the inner sanctums of Colney but, the tactical tweaks aside, the big change has been in the belief. And with the belief has come desire and fight and doggedness. Three ingredients that went missing for the first two thirds of this season.
Cameron Jerome and Bradley Johnson – last night’s goalscorers – have both had good seasons, but in the last few weeks have taken their strengths up to new levels, Jerome while in the clutches of some tight hamstrings.
Players who had been on the naughty step have been reprieved and are delivering. Others who had been bogged down in Championship-level mediocrity have, all of a sudden, discovered what made them Premier League players.
It’s been a gradual process but game by game the signs get ever more promising.
And if last night’s events were insufficient to get the juices flowing (as if), the sight and sound of Master Neil chatting post-match on BBC Radio Norfolk should do the trick. I defy any City fan to watch or listen to the interview and not feel the hairs on the back of the neck rise.
The mention of the Ipswich game (I feel able to mention it now) brought the wryest of smiles to the face of the Scot and in that instant it became clear that we are indeed in very safe hands.
He’s impressive – no question – and win lose or draw on Sunday you just know he’ll have them up for it. Don’t worry about that.
For those of us who didn’t or couldn’t travel to Blackburn it was an evening by the radio with Chris Goreham and Mark Rivers, and for all the right reasons it was torturous.
Despite some Twitter chatter to the contrary I warmed to Rivers’ punditry as the game progressed and was completely won over by the sound of him jubilantly celebrating both goals in the background. And I’m a sucker for any ex-player who still calls us ‘we’.
But the real star of the show was Mr Goreham. His excitable commentary from the perspective of a fellow fan has, for many, long been an indelible feature of City games, home and away. And last night’s was particularly special.
To be 1-0 down with all of those around us winning was sheer agony. Chris was feeling it too. Ditto those nerve-shredding closing moments with Blackburn bombarding the City penalty area. It was horrible and his tone told the story perfectly.
Nice one Mr G. It wouldn’t be the same without you.
David Bowen says
Bet it didn’t come close to Cinnamon’s winner v Derby! 🙂
Cosmo Politan says
I’m not sure how many more gears that Neil juggernaut has to find but let’s enjoy the ride.
If it’s top gear now, then it all comes down to consistency and game-by-game focus starting with a little afternoon kickabout on Sunday.
If we can avoid key injuries and suspensions, then we might just have the momentum to push into the top 2.
Stewart Lewis says
Before these last three games it was absolutely right to resist eulogies, but we’re on slightly firmer ground now. A long way to go, but the fear and apprehension is now all transferred to the court of our promotion rivals.
We’ve now heard and observed quite a bit about Alex Neil and his management style. On the face of it, it’s hardly rocket science: give the players clear instructions; work out the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses; establish a settled defence; build up self-confidence; have ‘a wee chat’ when necessary. But it’s a startlingly rare combination, and we seem to have found a guy who has that x factor.
When I say ‘we’, of course, I mean David McNally. But remember the rule: when it works, it’s ‘we’; it’s ‘David McNally’ when we think it’s wrong.
Douglas Millar says
I agree that Chris Goreham is a fantastic commentator and a fluent presenter. Radio Norfolk is lucky to have him.
The “wee chat” comment had to be the quote of the night.
However, the message is being delivered, it’s certainly getting across where it matters the most, to the players and “us fans” are starting to love every moment. Supporting City has “become fun” again and long may it continue.
The last three wins are definitely promotion quality. Derby, boro, and Bournemouth will be looking over there shoulders if they weren’t already. Most important game of the season has been thrown about a lot lately. Maybe it has been misplaced with Ipswich around the corner. OTBC
Neil N. Pray says
AN seems to have an assortment of qualities which were lacking in NA, but one of the key ones is having the aura of someone capable of grabbing a player by the neck and pinning them against the wall for a ‘wee chat’ at a moments notice. Not suggesting that he has actually done that, but it’s obvious he won’t settle for anything less than 100% commitment from everyone, and that’s what he’s getting.
Lambert did the double. Adams got the away win. Will Neil taste his own derby day success? I’m sure of it.