In a season that has been notable for too many afternoons and evenings of Carrow Road nothingness, yesterday was the exception.
It was a special day, and not just because it concluded with City ‘doubling’ Boro; enemies of old and red-hot promotion favourites at the start of the season. It was special because it was an afternoon where we finally came together; united in grief but also in celebration.
We talk some real nonsense at times; often we’re an ‘army’, occasionally we’re the ‘best’ and then when it suits we’re ‘one big family’. And then five minutes later, something occurs – usually a defeat – and we find ourselves at each other’s throats; divided, angry and disillusioned.
Yet yesterday proved my cynicism unfounded. Never have we felt more like a family.
The outpouring of love for Michelle Dack was spine-tingling; from her picture appearing on the big screen before the game to the minute’s applause on 52 minutes and then On the Ball City sung at it’s very best. The Yellow Army (yes, army) united in grief but also in support for those Michelle left behind.
I sincerely hope Ian and the family felt it a fitting tribute.
But it didn’t end there.
Ethan Thomas – son of Simon – was one of the mascots for the day. For a husband and a young son to lose their wife and mum in such tragic circumstances is truly heartbreaking, but if him proudly accompanying James Maddison onto that pitch yesterday amidst the Carrow Road cheers offered just one iota of comfort to father and son it will have been job done. I hope it did.
And then there was the day’s community hero, Chloe Smithson – a South Stand season-ticket holder from Kessingland – who despite having been diagnosed with a glioblastoma grade 4 brain tumour has been raising money for the Big C Appeal. She too was afforded a worthy, well-deserved and heartfelt Carrow Road ovation.
That City rewarded all three heroes with a win was entirely fitting. That they ultimately did so with an element of calm and class was the cherry on top.
In truth, until Tom Trybull chose to celebrate his new contract with that thumping 44th-minute strike, most of what had gone before had more than a whiff of familiarity. The build-up was slow, deliberate – even a little ponderous at times – and rarely did they sting the palms of Darren Randolph.
Rudi Gestede’s red card did little to change the dynamic – certainly from an attacking perspective – and only served to make things just a little more comfortable from a City defensive angle.
There’s no escaping that early on Boro did cause City a few problems, mainly through the pace and unpredictability of Adama Traoré, but following the red card Pulis’ decision to move him down the middle diluted the danger levels. Jamal Lewis would have breathed a quiet sigh of relief.
From thereon in it felt the whole thing hinged on whether or not City could force a breakthrough, and when they did it became just a question of game management; the timing of the goal providing a perfect psychological fillip.
With City’s noses ahead – something that has happened all too rarely at home this season – there was all of a sudden a purpose to the slow, patient, deliberate build-up. There was no need to force the issue. While City had the ball Boro were not going to score.
As it transpired City, through sticking to this methodical and patient format, did create more than enough chances to kill the game off – something seemingly lost on sizeable swathes of the River End – but at 1-0 there was always a slight niggle that Pulis-ball, probably via a set-piece, would be used to grind out an equaliser.
Yet the scares were few and far between, as were the nervously chewed fingernails. It was a second-half of composure from back to front.
Angus’ handling and kicking were impeccable and in front of him, the cohesion of Timm, Zimm and Himm (™ @clarebearthomas) just gets better and better. Individually, all four are finding a rich vein of form but as a unit, and as a back-three, it really is starting to come together. That they now understand their individual roles is clear; that they also understand each other’s role is becoming more evident by the game.
Tetbull (™ Gary Gowers) confirms with every passing game it plays together that it is by some way the best defensive shield combo, although the 30-minute cameo of one Moritz Leitner – on for the injured Trybull – was one of class and excellence. We may only have him here for three and a bit months; I suggest therefore we squeeze every last drop of quality out of him in that time.
As pointed out on Twitter last night, he looks like he could be this season’s Mitchell Dijks.
Onel Hernandez too offered glimpses of promise in his brief cameo and could have sealed the deal if his cross-shot had sneaked in Randolph’s far post instead of eluding both it and the onrushing Leitner. He looks one of the short, quick, low-centre-of-gravity variety, and will offer us a different variation of attacking threat.
It wasn’t about individuals though, even though some of them shone. It was about a cohesive team performance; a team that is starting to resemble one that is finally comfortable in its own skin. For a while it looked like eleven individuals trying – sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing – to shoehorn themselves into a pattern of playing that they were neither familiar with nor entirely believed in.
I don’t see that any more. I now see a unit that, while still the dreaded work-in-progress, believes in what it is trying to achieve and has wholly bought into what Team Farke is trying to build.
The limitations remain – and have been well and truly exhausted in debate after debate – but within those limitations a sound structure is starting to emerge; one that is starting to deliver results.
Add those three new Germanic bodies into the fold and after a rocky old winter, there are now several reasons to be cheerful – even if the River End is a little slow to catch on.
Yet yesterday was about more than just football. And I’d like to think we proved that we’re more than just a football club.
I think we would do well to remember we are just a football club and focus on making the football our thing. Other than 25 yarders (which cannot and will not last), we are offering zero entertainment.
Enjoy your season tickets guys! You have so much of this to endure and you will regret renewing after a few more months of this. Cue the abuse and the deafening silence once you finally admit it to yourselves. Relying on 25 yarders and somehow seeing progression…Norwich fans…
Gary Gowers says
C’mon ‘Jeff’, smile mate. At least enjoy the win 😉
Great article and it does seem as though the SW/DF revolution is starting to ‘bear fruit’ and certainly in most fans comments after yesterday’s game, fans are starting to feel positive (Jeff excepted) that we are seeing the ‘green shoots’ of a new NCFC.
FANTASTIC news that Trybull has signed a new contract!!!!
I’ve got my ticket for THE game in a fortnight, so looking forward to that.
Disagree Jeff – a good football club is about far more than just football.
It’s about community, charity, and camaraderie.
Lovely piece Gary – showing ALL that makes this a special club.
I wasn’t at the match, but you gave me a real sense of the emotion (I can fully understand tears being shed).
Yesterday – and your piece – serve as a fitting tribute.
Jim Davies says
Jeff, you left out “where’s the money gone” and “sack the board”. If you want to enjoy scintillating football, slick Barcelona style passing, and goals scored other than 25 yard screamers, why don’t you invest the money you’re not spending at Carrow Road on a season ticket 40 miles south, where you will get the sort of football and goals you crave, and where the board have the best interests of the club and fans at heart? Or possibly not!
martin penney says
That’s a bit harsh Jeff mate – on what was quite an emotional day we got a well-deserved win and I for one thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon.
I don’t care if they go in from 25 yards or off a defender’s butt on the line if they go in.
There’s life in this Club yet.
Nicky Mackey noo says
Jeff!..You trying to wind us all up..Cheeky!..If not then you are talking b*llocks….
Dave H says
Yet again, Jeff is first off the mark determined to bring his usual negative spin to any Norwich match. I seem to recall you being like this last season when there was plenty of entertainment.
I think a football club can be more than just about the football. It can have the ability to transcend the sport & make a real difference to people’s lives. It has for me in the past & I’m sure it did yesterday for the families mentioned in the article. It’s a shame for you that you can’t appreciate that
Ben K says
Jeff really is ‘one of those’. Always full of negativity, always first to comment. SAD!!!
Julian Roberts says
Well i for one was entertained i enjoy us keeping the ball. Our passing was excellent yesterday and yes end product is still needed but as Gary said we had lots of chances. That’s 5 wins out of 7 lots of clean sheets but of course we still get the moaners. I wish they would just leave and support( loosely termed )someone else. Good read Gary OTBC
Jeff, are you an Ipswich supporter?
Great article. Of course the Club reflects its community, so good to integrate that into the write up.
Good piece Gary, it really did feel like more than a football match yesterday and this is one of the really good things about our club.
We won and that is obviously terrific ,but we have to be entertained a little bit…Don’t we? Of course winning is much better than losing and some of us are never satisfied etc etc before all of you who know better than us old folk ( been going since 1971) have as go !!!! Even you say Gary that it was ponderous and slow at times but equally mention that a large part of the you’re stand were unimpressed and i can also say the same for the Jarrold,surely we can’t all be clueless ,it just seems to me that anyone who thinks it’s a bit boring and slow are looked down upon by some of the writers on here and are out of touch with “modern” football .For me personally it’s better to get the ball out wide,get to the byeline cross the ball and create uncertainty and therefore chances …no wonder Jerome has gone and Olivera is struggling…just saying
Andy Head says
Martin – I think you’re entirely valid in that opinion. The football is definitely a work in progress and we’re not where we should be yet. The evidence does suggest though that we’re getting there. Compare the defending at the start of the season to how secure we look now, and the improvement is obvious at that end of the pitch. It is frustrating that we’re not attacking fluently but hopefully the new arrivals can help us get there.
Steve Cousens says
Great article Gary, was there yesterday and apart from the unity that is growing on the pitch, there was a real sense of unity and pride in the stands, the applause on 52nd minute was something to make you proud to be a Canary,
martin penney says
Well said Steve. It was indeed a special day.
Kevin O'C says
As we were filing out of the Lower Barclay yesterday a chap a few seats along from me suddenly and loudly said ‘The mood, the mood’. I asked him what he meant.
He explained that the negative feeling in the crowd had almost stopped him coming to games but that the mood yesterday was a reminder of how NCFC used to feel. I agreed.
It felt great and although cynics will say that it was only 1-0 against a 10 man Boro there was plenty to appreciate. More movement happened in front of the ball and Josh seems t be relishing a more varied role. He is benefitting from the confidence that comes from a warmer crowd response.
A thoroughly enjoyable match and real signs that things are moving forwards. OTBC
Well said Gary; after so much this season left me ambivalent as to what the future held, yesterday was a true reminder of what following this club is all about.
OK, so the result was only 1-0, but I cannot recall ever feeling so comfortable with that scoreline.
As for the players, is there really no chance of getting Herr Leitner here permanently?? In his cameo, which was admittedly against only 10 men, I thought him superb. His distribution was great, and his through ball to Lewis magnificent. Does anyone know if we have a chance of making him a permanent Canary?
O T B C
Alex B says
Was reading an article from Herr Leitner and he was saying he has settled in at city and knew Farke well having played for him before he also said he didn’t know were he would be playing next season as he does know what his parent clubs plans are.
So there is hope that city might have a chance of signing him this could be a trial for both to see if they like one another.
Sharon bowles says
I am just so happy that we got the win for Michelle, Ethan and Chloe. I have never seen such togetherness – Some of the players stopped to clap, Farke and the bench did too – I almost thought for a second that they were going to stop play! And the spontaneous outpouring of On the Ball City was heartrending.
As for the football, I’ve been a shameless devotee of Project Farke from day one. Good that it seems to be coming together, and he’s had an input on the new crop of players coming in. I always felt the team would improved once the old guard were moved on and he could bring in players that fit his style. I personally don’t get bored with keeping the ball, slick passing and the feeling of our team being totally in control, but maybe I’m an exception.
One final thing – Is Jeff a Norwich fan? Football clubs, especially community based clubs like Norwich, are made up of so much more than just football. The club are the fans and the community they serve. And you could see that yesterday.
Chris Anderson says
I like being entertained and yesterday I was by a team who worked for each other. Yes it wasn’t rip roaring edge of the seat stuff but it was a show of control football which I’ll personally love seeing.
Much has been said by fans on how we had more space to play due to the oppposition only having 10 men however, there were numerous periods in the second half where Norwich won every second ball. For me that’s impressive and shows organisation and a work ethic which wins football matches. Norwich have been lacking this for sometime.
Game by game it appears to be starting to click which is good to see
All that’s missing for city to go to the next level is pace but I think we may have that in Hernandez. It’s taken time, but the system both mentally and physically is sinking in with the players. Good stuff.
Just like this past January window, who we can afford to buy in the summer will depend on who we sell first. I would hope that if Maddison is sold then the likes of Leitner would be affordable ( I beilive his current club paid Euro 2m for him). Should Maddison not be sold (very unlikely) then the offloading of Naismith, Martin, McGovern will become key to being able to sign new recruits.