So, things are finally moving.
The friendlies are starting to come thicker and faster, the mood of the faithful is starting to oscillate more wildly than a bedroom fan, there’s a tangible increase in intensity in training and matchplay, and we already have our first casualty of the new season.
So, the week that was, starting on…
Monday, 11 July
A quietish day in Canary land if the truth be told, but there were two loan departures to report – both academy players in the early years of their City careers who now tread the well-worn path of gaining experience of first-team football away from Norwich as opposed to playing development football here for the U23s.
For attacking midfielder Flynn Clarke, home next season will be Walsall – the club where Dean Smith earned his managerial stripes – while for left-back Saxon Earley, the delights of Stevenage await.
Ironically, the pair could face each other early on in the campaign, with the two teams scheduled to meet in League Two on August 13.
I also did my subtle best to try and eke out some clues on the Attanasio situation but being the least well-connected City writer on the block does have many drawbacks. Sorry, I tried.
Tuesday, 11 July
Matchday 3. A short trip to The Walks was the order of the day, with Dean Smith’s pre-season prep taking in a game against Tommy Widdrington’s King’s Lynn.
Similar to last season’s 3-0 City win, it was a relatively low-key affair in which Lynn showed themselves to be obdurate and well-organised in defence, and combative throughout.
This time around, City won 2-0 – goals from Teemu Pukki and Christos Tzolis – but it was very much an exercise in getting minutes in the legs of the players who are still in the midst of double sessions etc.
Some fans took to Twitter to bemoan the quality of City’s performance; others took the common sense approach and saw it for what it was – just the third friendly of the season and an exercise in match fitness.
One negative to emerge was Dean Smith telling the waiting press that Isaac Hayden’s troublesome knee has been so troublesome, he’s undergone a minor op to try and cure the problem. As a result, in true Norwich City tradition, he will miss the start of the new season.
I’m saying nothing… I’ll leave that to our Martin 🙂
Wednesday, 12 July
Nothing of note occurred other than the continuation of the Sara saga, which was said to be close but still to reach its conclusion.
Thursday, 13 July
Friday, 14 July
Gabriel Sara day! Finally, after weeks of speculation and a Paddy Davitt #nocircus, the Brazilian midfielder was introduced in the yellow and green shirt amid, to be fair, a relatively modest fanfare. Unless I missed it, he was even spared the excruciating, but almost obligatory, shot of holding aloft the yellow and green scarf.
Instead, there were just some nice words from the player himself and some even nicer words from Dean Smith, who described the club’s first-ever bona fide Brazilian thus:
“He has an abundance of skills. He can create and score goals, but also cover a tremendous amount of distance on a football pitch. He wants to get on the ball and look forward, he makes really unselfish runs and is full of energy.”
Welcome aboard, Gabriel.
Also on Friday, the U23s played an MK Dons XI and lost 6-0. We’ll move swiftly on.
Saturday, 15 July
Matchday 4. But first the small matter of the unveiling of the away kit which, like its home cousin, was surprisingly well received. The photoshoot was a work of art in itself with our city’s magnificent cathedral providing a perfect backdrop to the launch of one of our classiest kits in ages.
To me, it looks like our version of Roma’s kit; to the fashionistas, it’s ‘ruby with gold trim’. Either way, it looks bloody nice and that’s coming from a grumpy old curmudgeon who usually scoffs at those who get titillated by a new kit.
The main business of the day, of course, was the game in Fos-sur-Mer against Marseille – a game the club deemed worthy of a £10 fee if you wanted the live stream through the official website. Maybe when this decision was made, they didn’t realise Marseille would be streaming it for a fiver and there was also a free live TV stream.
Let’s hope the remaining three are free-to-view. A tenner for a friendly seems a bit much.
Anyway… it all went rather well.
Marseilles, if you didn’t know, came runners-up to PSG in last season’s Ligue 1 and so have qualified for this season’s Champions League – and we went and beat them 3-0! Even our opponents were impressed.
It is, of course, important not to get too carried away, just as it was right to not be overly critical of the lukewarm performance at The Walks, but nothing bad can come from a 3-0 win in which you play well against good opposition and your enfant terrible looks like he’s back in the game and up for the challenge.
I speak of course of Todd Cantwell who, from the outside looking in, appears to be committed to the cause and in a good place. It wasn’t just Todd though, there were plenty of good performances and successful tactical tweaks to keep Dean Smith and Craig Shakespeare happy.
For the record, the scorers were Jacob Sorensen, with a curling strike early on, and Jordan Hugill, with two close-range headers in the second half.
As an aside, it was also jolly decent of Marseille to arrange the game to be played predominantly in the gap betwixt the end of the T20 second semi-final and the start of the final. Merci beaucoup.
So, a good end to the week but not one to get too carried away over – unlike some of our brethren, one fan site in particular, who have already declared us champions-elect.
Will they ever learn?