Two late winners in the space of four days. We could get used to this.
This one had a clean sheet chucked in for good measure.
Yet for long spells this had Derby written all over it as Aitor Karanka did what Aitor Karanka does, which is set up a team with the intended aim of squeezing the life out of a game of football.
Luckily there was no Wayne Rooney in blue and white to twist the knife and instead, it was our turn to break a few hearts.
To have emerged with just a point, or less, from an evening of such dominance would have been a proper blow to the gonads, so thank goodness we have a suave Bosnian we can call on in times of crisis who, in the Championship at least, has a happy knack of scoring important goals.
The calls for Mario Vrancic to start rather than occupy the bench will clearly intensify – and it did appear that the player himself was making a forceful point to Daniel Farke after the final whistle – but such was the team’s dominance last night it’d be a big call to leave anyone out.
Of course, part of the Karanka plan was to let City have the ball but even our least-favourite Spaniard didn’t plan on City having 73 percent of possession, and there was plenty to admire on a night that showed Farkeball: the original to still be a thing.
With a fit-again Todd Cantwell restored to the starting XI and Emi Buendia showing us more than a few flashes of him at his best, there was a soothing familiarity to the way the ball was intricately popped around in those small pockets.
Even with Jordan Hugill up top and even with Xavi Quintilla more than happy to whip crosses into the box at every given opportunity, the pass-and-move ethos still remains our go-to, with Cantwell and Buendia at its heart.
Gary O’Neil, who oddly got slightly grumpier as the evening progressed, spoke at halftime of Cantwell being “loose” in possession, and he’s right, just as folk online were bemoaning Buendia’s tendency to give the ball away cheaply occasionally, but, for me, both are by-products of the creative edge needed to make Farkeball work.
Without Todd trying a flick that doesn’t come off or Emi trying a daft drag-back that may concede possession, we risk being sterile and non-progressive. The alternative is an extra sideways or backward pass that comfortably retains the ball but makes not the slightest dent in the banks of four and five in front of us.
Without that touch of maverick those two (literally) bad boys bring, it all becomes a little formulaic and without punch, and is far better and more unpredictable when the pair are working in tandem.
We need that. The defeat at Bournemouth was a classic case of what can (and did) happen minus that creative edge that’s so needed in Farkeball.
Another encouraging sign is that the new, and newer, players are adapting to the style and tempo of play that Farke demands, and after bemoaning the lack of physicality in the pairing of Oli Skipp and Lukas Rupp at the weekend, last night there were no such issues.
Rupp, in particular, was excellent and put in a fine shift that married bite in the tackle with some good passing and forward thrust. For someone who has had more than his fair share of brickbats but has never flinched, we’re now seeing the best of a player Farke trusts implicitly to keep things ticking over in the middle of the pitch.
On a night when it would have been easy for City to run out of ideas, it was Rupp whose energy and desire never faltered, even when a goalless draw seemed inevitable, and it was he who robbed Scott Hogan of possession prior to the goal.
While there may be days ahead when the Skipp/Rupp combo needs some form of bolstering – and Saturday may be one of those – both are clearly now attuned to the new Norwich way.
So, a good one. A late show it may have been but few could argue City didn’t deserve the three points. And up next, Wycombe.
Let’s not even mention the fact they’re currently point-less 😱