At the end of what had been a truly horrific week – just another in a very long line – it was again left to Daniel Farke’s men to put a collective smile on the Canary Nation.
And they delivered… again.
While to some, games of football appear non-consequential as the world struggles to contain a pandemic that’s killed 1,907,608, to others (like us) they offer us a brief window of respite. A chance to remove oneself from the almost continual gloom and, for a couple of hours, to invest totally in something far removed from a killer virus or a deranged, tangerine-tinged man-baby with an unhealthy lust for power and a penchant for lies.
That City were also able to deliver us a win was merely a bonus, and the big concern has to be for how long can elite football safely continue as case numbers continue to rise and more and more games are being either called off or compromised. Our own Tim Gough described it perfectly in the week.
On that basis, we have to squeeze every last drop out of the current season; one that for City is gathering momentum as we enter its second half.
Yesterday’s win was okay, nothing to scream from the rooftops about, but oozed professionalism and efficiency; two components needed to ensure progression through to the next round of the FA Cup.
And having made seven changes to the team that beat Barnsley, Daniel Farke was right to be content with his and the team’s performance and, in the circumstances, his description of it being “perfect” was about right.
The game time afforded to those who’ve been injured was invaluable and it helped that Xavi Quintilla and Bali Mumba both used their first competitive games for a few months to further their respective causes.
While Mumba’s performance was more than sufficient to remind Team Farke that even without the services of Sam Byram we have some quality cover for Max Aarons, Quintilla has triggered a conundrum.
The Spaniard, when fully fit, clearly offers more than an alternative to Jacob Sorensen at left-back. He offers the answer. The Dane was only ever the most temporary of solutions but embraced it in a way neither he nor Farke expected, and by those performances at left-back alone, he earned his chance yesterday in his natural central-midfield home.
That he and Quintilla both did well has created the type of problem coaches thrive on.
- Go with your fit, first-choice left-back and end up leaving Sorensen out of the XI completely as he’s not going to usurp Ollie Skipp
- Go with Sorensen at left-back and you take away balance and the attacking threat down the left that Quintilla has been brought in to provide.
- Reward Sorensen with a start in central midfield alongside Skipp and you potentially leave out McLean, who also did well (and scored) yesterday in a more advanced role.
Take your pick.
A rather more straightforward call for Farke will be who leads the line against Cardiff. While Jordan Hugill probably had his most productive afternoon in the yellow shirt, and scored a good goal, he remains a slightly uncomfortable fit for Farkeball.
Hugill is clearly a great character and plays a key role in the dressing room, but on the pitch, there is a jarring around the way he’s being used and how he fits in. Pukki is integral to how we play because of his clever movement and ability to run down the sides of centre-backs to either create space or get on the end of through balls. We build from there.
Hugill is happier to receive the ball with his back to goal but rarely do we ‘play off’ our centre-forward, and, equally, he thrives on crosses into the box of the type he scored from yesterday. Pepe Placheta’s cross was beautiful but far from the norm, with Farkeball non-reliant on such a supply; balls in from out wide are normally reserved for the near-post and on the ground.
This is not to say Hugill has no role to play in the upcoming promotion charge – he clearly does – but so limited have his first-team opportunities been, as we gather ourselves to go over the top, we’re still searching for a way to best utilise him.
But, his goal yesterday will have been a massive fillip.
Daniel Barden was another whose confidence will have soared as a result of a fine afternoon’s work. The 20-year-old showed no nerves whatsoever as he made two saves in particular – at the beginning of each half – to help steer the Canaries to victory. Also worthy of note was his calmness with the ball at his feet.
I don’t think any of us would baulk at the prospect of him covering for Tim Krul for a few weeks as the Dutchman recovers from the virus, and can think of no greater compliment.
And then there’s Tettey.
In addition to offering up yet another masterclass in calmness and authority, he also conjured what has to be the best moment of 2021 so far. If you haven’t seen it (with “full credit to @ncfcMC”)…
Who saw that coming? Because I didn’t.
We knew he could tackle, organise, make simple passes, and occasionally let fly with a good old-fashioned howitzer, but pirouetted drag-backs? Not in a million years did I expect that, but it was joyous. What a man.
If this is to be his final hurrah and none of us are there to witness it, then that in itself will be a tragedy.
But, on the day, it was job done and we can accurately describe ourselves as “being in the hat” for the fifth round, even if we’re yet to progress beyond the fourth. Let’s take it.
And let’s never take for granted the joy that Tettey and co bring. I’m probably more guilty than anyone of not always appreciating the Norwich City effect on all of our lives, but with the heartstrings being tugged in all directions right now, our wonderful football club offers an irreplaceable constant.
Let’s cling to that.
Never Mind the Danger
Mike Reynolds says
Your penultimate paragraph should be copied and hung on all our walls.
Cyprus canary says
A cross and a headed goal – when did we last see that!!! Perhaps we need to tweak Farkeball to include this phenomenon and score more goals? How many creative midfielders can one team cope with?
The movement of football squads and associated staff across the country is becoming increasingly difficult to justify in this current situation. But if the season were to be curtailed early, the halfway point is arguably the fairest time to do it as every team has played each other once. Wouldn’t be too bad for City.
Also on the football calendar this year is Euro 2021… Europewide travel, anyone? And don’t forget footballers have a load of parties to fit in over the coming months too. Mm, decisions, decisions…
Alex B says
As usual an extremely good read.
You mentioned Tangerine 🍊 so I will say well done to Blackpool fir beating WBA and the only manager that got sacked by the chairman when said man was in a cell at Kirkham open prison.
Spurs supporters gave gone way beyond belief having purchased 10k virtual tickets fir their gams at Marine today and their chairman thanking them for helping out the club financially.
Well I recorded the MoTD last night and I am not sure what city have done to upset the old lady but let nights showing was the worse I can ever remember.
Gabby Yorath was prodding boasting they got all 22 games in and half or more of them were about 30sec long no discussion about the game so they must believe in less is more.
Tettey as you say what a man and club servant my new year wish would be to offer him a 1 year contract so that his final legacy would be a possible last hurrah in the Premiership also 10 years at the club with a testimonial.
City are proving that they have a really strong squad but like many others still can’t understand buying Hugill yes he offers plan B if needed but even our plan B doesn’t play to his strengths so maybe we should had offered a little more and signed Ivan Toney
Maybe city missed a trick by not signing a loan keeper from LIVARPOOL as Longeran has gone till the end of the season.
Onwards and upwards
Stay Safe and Stay Healthy 🙏
Jim Davies says
I’d like to take the credit for it, but I can’t. Someone on the Pink’un forum suggested Tettey must be due a “Tetteymonial” for all his excellent service, and I couldn’t agree more. That spin and drag back was worthy of Messi, and it left the Coventry player going in totally the wrong direction. Maybe he’s been perfecting it during the lockdown!
All in all, a creditable result against a decent team, and an opportunity for Daniel Barden to make a name for himself, which he did superbly.
I know they’re trying to make it simpler for clubs to sort their fixtures in a compressed season, but two cup draws at the same time? It’s going to be even more complicated given the Southampton v Shrewsbury game was postponed. That’s going to come out as Southampton or Shrewsbury v A N Other v Someone Else or Yet Another in the fifth round draw (I think I’ve got that right!).
Jim Davies says
Just seen Marine’s manager saying that they’ve managed to sell 21000 of their “virtual tickets” for their game against Spurs (and praising the Spurs fans for participating). Apparently, that’s now their record “attendance”, and puts Ipswich’s attendances to shame!
You mention some very good points Alex B.
I’m sure it can’t be long before Sam’s ‘taxi’ arrives. WHY do so many owners keep employing ‘failed’ managers?? 🙁
You’ve obviously missed the plot – if they had discussed the game, they would have had to have mentioned Tettey’s pirouette and that was NEVER going to happen. Had it been a 34-year-old PL player, it would have been discussed and reshown many times!! 😀
Spurs supporters do indeed deserve applause for their generosity to Marine and it must be a lifeline for the club.
Indeed we are supposed to be having the Euros and the Olympics this year -REALLY??
Alex B says
Many years ago I was at WHL and the Bucket was passed around for another defunked football club called Bury and that time lots of money was collected.
Some supporters get clubs bad names but I have always had a sift spot for the Spurs lot.
3 Bury supporters ex footballers have moaned about how the club was let down by the owners, Butt and the Neville brothers gave always professed how much Bury means to them, Their father was club Secretary and their mother head Admin Officer who lost her job when it went bust instead of investing in Salford why didn’t they save their home town club the one they say is in their blood ???