I should start by giving a little background information on myself. I’m Justin. I’ve been a Norwich fan since I was 7 years old. I’m now 39. I was born in America but brought up in Norfolk. I currently live in Japan and work as an actor under a different name.
Being an expat Norwich fan can be frustrating. The time difference is about 8 or 9 hours ahead depending on when the clocks change in the UK. If it’s an evening kick-off, well… it’s about 4.30 am for me. Even so, I try to watch every Norwich game and try to attend a few home games when I’m back in Norfolk visiting family.
I should give a quick mention to Michael Bailey, Connor Southwell, David Freezer, the lads at TalkNorwichCity, and MyFootballWriter. They have helped me feel part of the Norwich City community and the matchday experience with their pre-match and post-match video blogs and articles.
Anyway, enough about me...
Much has already been written about City’s first game of the season but it is important to put it into context and not get carried away. We played a Huddersfield team very much in a transitional phase with new manager Carlos Corberan at the helm, who’s not had long to put in place his high press, high-intensity Leeds ‘style’ of play.
Whether he has the squad to carry out such a style time will tell but I get the feeling Huddersfield will be in the lower half of the table come the business end of the season.
The Terriers looked the more threatening side in the opening ten minutes as City struggled to deal with their high press and direct play but, luckily for us, they backed off and played more of a counter for the rest of the game.
“A win is a win,” remarked Mark Rivers on Radio Norfolk’s Canary Call after the game and he was right. It wasn’t a perfect cohesive performance but there were moments of real promise.
City still look tentative in front of goal – a hangover from last season – with Kenny Mclean’s dragged first-half shot the perfect example of this. The Scot lacked the conviction.
On the plus side, Xavi Quintilla looks decent loan/buy and it looks like we may finally have a player that can deliver set pieces, adding another element to Norwich’s game.
This will be especially helpful if trailing a game and having the likes of Jordan Hugill and Christoph Zimmerman to load the opposition’s area. These are still early days for the Spaniard though and he did get caught out of position two or three times – on one occasion almost leading to a goal but Oliver Skipp took up a good position in the area to sweep the ball clear.
I was impressed with Skipp’s general play. It’s only one game but he does have a bite about him with good positional sense, and the ability to carry the ball forward.
Idah’s cameo was also impressive. He added a sense of urgency, and pace up front and linked up well with Teemu Pukki, highlighted by the Finn’s selfless pull back forthe goal.
Of course, the young Irishman almost scored again when Pukki played him in for a second time, but he couldn’t get enough power behind his close-range shot. On that occasion, Pukki should have pulled the trigger himself, but he’s another one who is still finding his feet after a demoralizing last season.
Daniel Farke’s post-match revelation that he was “not happy at all with Adam’s performances in training” was telling. It’s possible the international appearances in the week had made Idah a complacent and he needed a little reminder that he still has a lot of hard work to do.
Idah has all the attributes to be a very good striker at Championship level and in Farke he has a coach that will back him. He seems to be a good lad with his feet on the ground and I have no doubt he will succeed at Norwich.
Next up are Preston, who will present a much sterner test with a motivated Alex Neil and a very experienced Championship squad.
We all know what Neil is about. He also likes to play a 4-2-3-1 with possession-based football and it will be a strong indication of where we are as a team.
Farke will have a big decision to make with his starting eleven. Does he bring Emi back into the starting 11? If so, who does he drop? Cantwell or Dowell?
A good start to the season will be pivotal, especially in these strange and surreal times. Without the extra 12th man/woman cheering and egging the team on, form and confidence will be key elements.
Please feel free to follow me on Twitter or Instagram @justwhous.