That went rather well didn’t it. Finally an end to the ‘we haven’t won on opening day for 87 years’ platitude.
Perhaps, while they’re on a roll, Alex and co would care to bring an end to the Craven Cottage hoodoo and the ‘along come Norwich’ theory? That’d be good.
But one step at a time and after a fortnight during which the opening game of the season became almost a sideshow to the main event of signing a ‘number 9’, it was nice to have some competitive football to get our teeth into. That City won in such glorious fashion was one huge, shiny bonus.
And it’s funny what a win can do.
Following on from a gut-full of non-stop social media whining and moaning over the club’s refusal to be held to ransom by Ross McCormack, Fulham and Master McCormack’s lovely agent (£45k a week?), it took just twelve minutes and a swoosh of Jacob Murphy’s right boot to change the mood almost beyond recognition.
Thirteen minutes later, more ‘hot knife through butter’ football led to it being game over – Wes and Cameron Jerome both getting off the mark for the season.
The mood was celebratory, borderline triumphant, in complete contrast to the collective demeanour following the official announcement that Villa had caved in to McCormack’s outrageous demands; thoughts of a new striker (or two) temporarily put on hold while we whooped and hollered over a rare win on day one.
Football’s weird isn’t it.
Of course there were those who couldn’t wait to tell us how poor Blackburn were but I’d suggest City’s high octane opening simply didn’t offer them the opportunity to get a foothold in the game.
Rovers certainly looked half-decent late on when the City foot was off the gas and, despite Micky Gray’s ridiculous knee-jerk relegation prediction, they’ll be a side capable if winning games as the season progresses.
But, from a Norwich perspective, there is no escaping that if the players consistently perform to a level near the top end of their comfort zone – as they did yesterday – then they’re going to win plenty of games and be up there challenging Ipswich and co for a top two spot 😉
One of the biggest collective fears was that the much-fabled relegation hangover would hang around for a while and give our competitors a head start, but if there were any lingering doubts and fears yesterday should have blown them to smithereens [which includes my already-filed programme piece for the Wednesday game].
And if fragile or brittle confidence was an issue, what better way to boost the belief in their ability to tackle the pending 45-game marathon.
Of course it’s important that the feet remain on ground (and if there’s one thing that Alex is good at… ) and, as results yesterday confirmed, freak results do occur on opening day but there is unquestionably a different feel to the place now that one is out of the way.
Work will naturally continue behind the scenes to bring in another striker or two and, as Alex stated in Friday’s presser, firepower is key to a promotion push but it was fitting that Jerome should get his own season off to a flyer with a goal.
He suffered last season, no question, and will be acutely aware that his shortcomings in front of goal were but one element of our downfall, but the Championship is a very different animal and he knows his power, pace and work-rate will unsettle many a second tier centre-back. The strut has returned. I was pleased for him.
It was a memorable one too for Jacob Murphy, so often in the shadow of his slightly more high-profile twin, and ironic that he signalled his arrival on the scene in an almost identical manner to Josh; his particular 25-yarder finding its way into the Vicarage Road top corner in the Capital One Cup three years ago.
But now is their time to shine – both of them. At 21 years of age and both with a full season of EFL football behind them, they – along with Harry Toffolo – look set to be the main beneficiaries of City’s slide to the Championship.
They both have terrific pace – something the squad is not particularly well endowed with – and an eye for goal. Yesterday confirmed that they are at the forefront of the manager’s thoughts and so they will get opportunities. They must take them.
Wesley’s virtuoso performance was also timely – a continuation really of his form in the Euros and pre-season – and was a gentle reminder to Messrs Naismith, Pritchard and Maddison that if they want the ‘number 10’ role they’ll have to fight him for it.
In fairness to Naismith, his contribution yesterday – especially his linking up with Wes – was exceptional and he too will have benefited massively from a goal on opening day.
Like Jerome, he will be aware of his own role in last season’s disastrous run-in and keen to make amends via the extra millisecond of time he’ll be afforded on the ball in the final third this season. Yesterday was a fine start for him.
So, with both feet firmly rooted on terra firma, the Ewood Park adventure was about as good as it gets on day one. And it felt good.
Now bring on those Owls.
Right, that’s me done for a fortnight. Am departing these shores for a break (poor timing… long story…etc) but will leave you in the more than capable hands of Rick and the team. Be gentle with them. On second thoughts…
See you after derby day (part one).
Mark Rivers on BBC yesterday made the point that along with the goals, way we played etc, the big thing for him was the manner with which the players absolutely went for it. No sense of relegation weariness. That will be massive for us this season – we have a hugely experienced squad and if they get up for every game that will give us a head start on all. And that may be the difference between us and Newcastle, despite them being favourites. We’ve been here before and done it. Their squad have some shocks in store for them and that’s why I think we’ll win the league if we get two more decent strikers in, sell Bassong and replace with good cover. I know it’s only one game but having put up with endless whining for the last six months, we can at last be positive! OTBC
colin m says
Thoughts go back to opening game of last season played well v Palace with no luck and poor ref. That game set the tone for the season.let’s hope yesterday does same this time around. Wednesday will be a much tougher test. Enjoy your break Gary.
Thought the midfield duo of Tettey & Howson were brilliant yesterday, gave such a solid base to build from.
Douglas Millar says
The goals were well constructed and beautifully taken. With several top class players also available City have a squad capable of repeating the success of the last spell in the championship. Above all City need the rub of the green in keeping the best players fit. Alex Neil also needs to integrate Pritchard and Madison into the group to up the level of quality needed to break down the in depth defences we are sure to come up against before long.
Next priority is to win again at Portman Road! OTBC
Start as you mean to carry on superb start ,that could be vital towards the end of the season .The worrying thing for me , might be being petty was
1. Sounded like wes was on the wing again (square pegs again)
2. And i liked the starting 11 but thought the bench looked poor with dead wood like Baffoon,mulumbu,lafferty
Apart from that very pleased ;))
And also Ruddy’s incompetence for the conceded goal sounded like he was blame
4. Also have we actually learnt from last years transfer mistakes as a club… which in the end cost us ?? Are we still looking for another CB (as we were last year) to replace bassong who cost us dear last season and not just us !! He’s been relegated alot with other clubs !! I don’t think we are !
5. And why do we go for strikers we cant afford embarrasing ourselves dragging on for weeks and losing out too rivals afdobe ,mcormack
I am glad we didnt the latter ….I think we’d be better going abroad be cheaper for us
Keith B says
If you are going to judge people on their relegations canaryjim (7, and 8, and 9…) we had better get rid of Wes. At least Bassong’s only been relegated from the Premier League, and not from the Championship.
We all accept, I think, that Bassong’s not a good enough defender when the aim is to stay in the Premier League. But that’s not where we are now. As a Championship centre back, certainly as backup, he’s fine.
As for the “dead wood” bench well with Dorrans, Martin and Brady all injured surely there had to be some experience there? Would you have preferred Toffolo or Godfrey, Maddison and Morris to Whittaker and the two you mentioned?
What was interesting yesterday was that Canos was again not on the bench; the way the young man himself was talking when he arrived he reckoned hecan play anywhere across the front line and there was no hint of “if picked” in what he said. I wonder if that’s why he was packed off to Dartford last week – a touch of the David Bentley about him perhaps? I’m sure he’ll be a top player if he has the right attitude, but wonder if just now he’s being taught an important lesson.
Stewart Lewis says
Canaryjim (5) – Can reassure you that Wes wasn’t on the wing. The ‘wide’ players in yesterday’s formation – surely a sign of AN’s intent – actually played very narrow, leaving acres for Pinto and Olsson to exploit.
Naismth & Hoolahan found themselves close to each other, with great effect.
We’d certainly be looking for a CB if we hadn’t persuaded Klose to stay. That massive ‘signing’ leaves us looking OK in central defence, I’d say.
Im sorry keith i wouldnt give bassong the time of day dreadful dreadful player an utter liability ….and stewart i think youre right the board believe this defence is good enough for championship and probaly is ..in all fairness but i just cannot forgive bassong
Radio norfolk said we was on the wing so my apologies there stewart !
As for the bench again keith would rather of seen the alternatives you gave very much yes !
Mulumbu and Lafferty are surely to be sold on as they havent featured hardly for alex
But i realise also the transfer window isnt shut so….
Flying High says
Yes Bassong has been relegated 6 times now, but he’s also won 2 player of the season awards in English football. Can’t be all bad. We’re all aware of his faults, but recent criticism has gone a bit overboard. Similarly with Jerome, he will be more than capable of flourishing again in this league.
I’m glad Newcastle and Villa both lost, but the fact it was Sheff Wed that beat the latter is probably more relevant. After the next game we’ll know a lot more about how good we really are.
Flying High says
Another thing I took from this week is how pathetic the coverage is at this level. Couldn’t find a stream, the C5 highlights were very brief, and some of the camera-work at other Championship games was shockingly amateur. I think Canaries Player will enjoy a boost in subscribers this season.
Dave B says
Cracking start. Keep giving the youth a chance and I think they’ll come good!