Well that went rather well.
This feeling of contentment though – I’m unsure about it. Doesn’t sit comfortably. Give me a good old crisis to cogitate over any day.
I jest of course but there is something very un-Norwich City about the way we are going about our business right now, every facet of which was on show to the watching Sky audience last night.
We’re nasty for a start, and I’m not talking about Marley Watkins’ late dismissal, which was nasty and stupid. I’m talking about the stuff that so enraged Chris Wilder and Garry Monk, and enabled Angus, through making the game stop-start and fractured, to have a final 20 minutes free of making a worthwhile save. And I’m talking about the no-frills. no-nonsense from the technical area.
And right now we’re clinical. When was the last time we were able to describe ourselves as that? We didn’t create loads of chances last night, in fact other than the one Cameron Jerome rolled against the post I’m not sure there was one that could even be described as clear cut, yet we conjured up two priceless goals.
And we upset people. For the third consecutive Championship away game – fourth if you include the Carabao Cup – there was something in the air that just got under the skin of those in the stadium who were not adorned in yellow and green. We just appear a little bit… unlikable. And it’s great.
We’ve even spun the whole caboodle around 180 degrees and, I have to say, it’s not especially aesthetically pleasing on the eye right now – the very antithesis of Daniel Farke’s pre-season vision. But it matters not one jot. Team Farke, through some shrewd decision-making and a few slices of good fortune, have carved out a formula that has found favour with Championship football.
We’re obdurate, resolute, determined, focused, together… in fact we’re almost every adjective you can think of that we weren’t when away from home last season; that hateful day at the Amex being a prime example.
I hesitate to use ‘antithesis’ again but that’s exactly how far removed these away performances are from the vast majority of last season’s offerings; the same almost (but not quite) applying to the current travails at Carrow Road. And the same most definitely applying to the mood in which we enter the international break.
The turnaround has been simply astonishing, the only downside being a month that has yielded 14 points, five cleans sheets and a route through to the next round of the Carabao Cup is almost certain to propel Farke toward a nomination for Manager of the Month. Hopefully Steve Bruce, with Villa on a similar run, will get the nod courtesy of his club being a ‘sleeping giant’ for whom there is oodles of love out there.
Yet even if the worst happens – an occurrence that would virtually condemn the Hull game to be yet another goalless draw – it would be a small price to pay for a transformation that was unthinkable in the heart-wrenching aftermath of the New Den.
The factors that have led to this surge are manifold and have been well and truly done to death – so I’ll spare you – but at the very heart of it is a young man who over the last month we’ve watched grow from a boy into a man.
Angus arrived as the son of Bryan – and there’s no denying the Gunn connection felt cosy and right the second his loan move was announced – but other than when he’s been asked directly he’s not attempted to make any capital out of the fact he’s the son of a club legend. He’s his own man.
I suspect within hours of arriving he lost count of the number of the ‘header the crossbar in front of the Barclay like your dad did’ requests but equally I suspect it was never ever going to be a thing. Yet still he arrived a young player with literally no first-team experience and on the part of Stuart Webber it was a brave call.
Some City commentators, whose opinions I thoroughly respect incidentally, questioned whether it was a jump too far from the Premier League Under-23 to the Championship and in those fraught opening weeks those questions persisted. Not, however, because Angus did anything particularly wrong or made any glaring errors but because questions were asked as to how he was organising those in front of him.
He was being asked to manage a back-four that had three new faces, two of whom were still learning the ropes of Championship football, all while learning those same ropes himself – a massive ask in anyone’s book. And no-one would have baulked if his confidence showed signs of waning in those days after Millwall.
But it didn’t. Not a glimmer of uncertainty. His response was a clean sheet against Birmingham. And since then he has simply grown and grown in stature; his command of the penalty box and the six in front of him a testament to one who resembles a keeper with 300 games under his belt. In a nutshell he’s been simply magnificent and even if he suffers a dip, as young players tend to, he now has credits aplenty in the bank.
There were of course plenty of other heroes at the Madjeski, not least the two goalscorers. Cameron Jerome, him of the latest scapegoat fame (in the absence of Russ), was well deserving of his goal and will hopefully have socked it to a few whose criticism was getting just a little out of hand. And what is there left to say about Master Maddison?
I watched with great interest his warm-up prior to the Bristol City game, which he concluded with four free-kicks, all of which sailed perfectly in the exact same ‘postage stamp’ as last night’s effort. It didn’t happen by accident. Our biggest battle with him will be holding onto him in January.
Yet we should enjoy the moment. Runs like the one we’re on don’t come along too often and we must milk it for all it’s worth.
On the Ball City
As we enter another international break you still looking for a City football fix? If so, how about mingling with the great and good of our club at this week’s Tales from the City 3 launch?
The launch event for the third volume of the popular Norwich City book series will offer up an unmissable night of lively discussion, memories and laughter with former manager Ken Brown, former players Dale Gordon, Terry Allcock and Simon Lappin plus newest board member Tom Smith.
Included with your ticket is the new book which you’ll get signed by the cast & there’s a complimentary welcome drink too.
Tickets priced £25 includes Tales from the City volume 3, meet the cast & signing and welcome drink.
6.30pm – Doors open with arrival drink for guests
7.15pm – All guests take their seats
7.30pm – Show starts
9.30pm – Guests to depart
To pre order Tales from the City volume 3 click here
And to book your tickets for the event… here