If Saturday’s second-half procession against Reading wasn’t the most fitting way to clinch the EFL Championship title for Norwich City, I’d like to know what might have improved upon it. Unless we could have all been in the ground to celebrate with the team of course.
Reading were well up for it and let us know that from the outset. They had the sheer effrontery to take the lead from an early free kick a few yards in from the right hand corner flag and a fine delivery from Michael Olise was well met by an unmarked Josh Laurent, who planted his header through Tim Krul from point-blank range. Kieran Dowell and Andrew Omobamidele were far closer to each other than they were to the lurking Laurent, but hey ho.
Dowell levelled midway through the half after Reading keeper Rafael closed down Teemu Pukki to push it out to the edge of the box but Dowell shouldered off the covering defender to finish via a deflection.
The litany of second half pressure paid off with three more for the Yellows as the half-time team talk did its job and we stepped it up a gear – or two. After a burst of fine saves from Rafael Carbal, Todd Cantwell played a worldy of an assist for Dowell to net his second from an acute angle.
Xavi Quintilla netted a fine free-kick from range and it was pure joy to see how much it meant to him – and Emi Buendia too, of course.
It only remained for the relentless Pukki to anticipate an appalling short back pass from the hapless Tom Holmes to round Rafael, jog towards the gaping net and [safely] slash it home with beautiful arrogance.
And thus it came to pass that a record was broken on the day we sealed the title. 96 points is the most a Norwich City side has ever achieved in a season. We can add that to the record tally of 15 away wins and should we beat Barnsley on Saturday we will create yet a third first, as in 30 wins in a season.
This squad is a bit tasty, isn’t it?
Folks will interpret this in their own way but perhaps it’s significant that Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic were introduced together at the death to mark what might well be the last time they grace the Carrow Road turf. Time will shortly tell us if this is the case. Or not.
Dear old Tetts might yet have to find one final start in the tank after an unfortunate injury to Ollie Skipp in stoppage time has surely deprived him of featuring in all 46 matches of the campaign. Non contact, but Daniel Farke has said it looks bad and the physios cannot rule out a broken foot, which I guess must mean the dreaded metatarsal.
Amazed that iFollow overran to include the celebrations, I looked on with glee while sparing a thought or two for Skippy. He managed to join in on the pitch with protective boot and crutches and appeared to enjoy himself as much as everybody else despite the obvious pain he must have been feeling.
I’ll pick a trio of favourite moments from the proceedings, both inside and outside the ground as the players saluted a few hundred diehards who turned up with yellow smoke, pirate Champions shirts and, in a couple of cases, Auntie Doris as well.
Kenny McLean, reputedly four beers to the wind, jumping up and down like a demented Maori warrior who had forgotten the choreography to the Haka.
Skippy with his protective boot off, perching on the bumper of a white utility vehicle on Carrow Road and thrusting his crutches into the air [forgive the innuendo, there’s no other way I can describe it] as the rest of the lads sang *Oliver Skipp, we want you to stay…”
Best of the lot? Onel Hernandez drenching Farke with a family sized, fully iced coolbox that he deposited over his head coach’s head. Cool [literally in this instance] as ever, Farke grinned, slicked back his hair and carried on with the mood of the moment.
A mate of mine claims that the Mayor and Grant Hanley were spotted at Thickthorn Mucky D’s to get some ballast down them before the celebrations started in earnest. True or false? (Tis true – Ed).
I’ve no idea who will be left for Barnsley. Hangovers don’t last a week so we should be okay, but after seeing highlights of a very *relaxed* Watford against Brentford you never really know.
As the Mayor said afterwards: “We’ll enjoy it. You’ve got to. Players go through unbelievable careers without winning a title. Enjoy this for what it is… you need to enjoy these moments because they don’t come around often.”
Too right Kenny, too right.
There’s only one musical track I can end this article with of course. But being me, it’s probably not the version of it readers might have been expecting. I’m sorry Freddie, but I’m sure you wouldn’t have minded.