“I think there’s still a few people feeling what went on last season, so there was a bit of nerves there, but they [the players] came through that brilliantly, and showed big courage in the way we want to play.
“I’m really pleased that we got the point. We’re two games in, we’ve got four points, it’s a solid start, but also in the two performances there has been so much to be so pleased with, and now loads to work on, but we knew that was going to be the case.“
As it happens these are the words of Southampton head coach Russell Martin – he of the cool good looks and seemingly permanent twinkle in the eye who will be well remembered around these here parts as a key component of Paul Lambert’s double promotion-winning side just over ten years ago – although they could just as easily have been said by his City counterpart David Wagner after a tasty little encounter at St Mary’s on Saturday.
Fortunes fluctuated throughout a game that might not have had quite everything on show but nonetheless contained more than enough to produce five-star entertainment for the 30,000 crowd [2,000 prominent and vocal Canaries included] to enjoy immensely. If MOTD did the EFL Championship, this one would have been top of the shop by a country mile. The Sky schedulers opted for Cov v Boro, which turned out to be the original close, but no cigar for them.
Obviously, you can’t really have a 4-4 without a few defensive errors to help it along its merry way but it would be remiss to dwell there for too long, particularly when we could drink in the moment of sheer class from Gaby Sara that produced a goal worthy of winning just about any game. I won’t say it defies description, but I’d thoroughly recommend that you check it out yourself rather than rely on my efforts to do it justice:
Moving on from what Wagner didn’t say, here’s what he did come out with afterwards, stressing that he felt it was actually a top performance from his side:
“It was a top, top performance from the bottom to the top. To come here against Southampton, to play the way we’ve done. [To be] the braver, creating chances, scoring goals. We had chances to add even more.
“To be a little bit disappointed after the game, to be coming away from the game with only a draw speaks for the character of the group and the demands they have on them. But in general, it was a super football match from both teams.
“Both teams wanted to attack, both teams wanted to score goals. There were some mistakes, which will happen. But in general, I think it was a very good performance. We take this point, we recover and then go again.
“Most of the goals were avoidable for me. The first one, there’s a clear push. The referee has to see this. And we scored another goal that was clearly not offside in the second situation. Yes, Ashley [Barnes] was offside when Sara shot, but the goalkeeper had a clear view.
“But he makes the save, then we cross the ball in and have a tap-in. No offside situation. This is what annoys me more than the other situations, where maybe you can defend better.
“I’m proud of the players today, they deserve a lot of credit to come away to Southampton and to perform and play the way they’ve done. Tomorrow, and the next few days, there will be things to look back and analyse, but everyone can be proud.”
The Canaries travel to QPR in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, with Wagner adding:
“It looks like everybody is healthy after the game. We’ll double-check and see how everyone recovers. There’s a lot of players pushing from the bench, and the bench gave positive influence again.
“We like to be successful in every single game and that includes going on a cup run as well. This is our aim, this is our standard.”
It was good, at last, to see a team that with the judicious use of substitutes was able to prove its fitness by keeping going for what is fast becoming the full 100 minutes, which was all the more admirable as the Yellows were out of possession for virtually 70% of proceedings. This can only be down to Wagner and the subtle shift caused by the medium-sized churn during the summer window.
I think it is fair to say that acquiring Shane Duffy, Ashley Barnes, Jack Stacey, Christian Fassnacht, and Kellen Fisher and letting go/marginalising the likes of Todd Cantwell, Kieran Dowell, Danel Sinani, Christos Tzolis, and Milot Rashica has certainly paid dividends in this respect, which we should expect to cause a permanent effect.
Although he followed up last weekend’s excellent strike against Hull with a headed goal this time around, Jonny Rowe passed on media duties to Kenny McLean, who was forced to acknowledge the obvious collective disappointment at not winning such a robust encounter.
“It was a good game for the neutrals! It was a tough game, obviously, and we’re disappointed to concede four goals. Some questionable ones that we conceded, but it’s still not good enough for us [to be] conceding four goals. But a draw here against a team who everyone expects to immediately bounce back shows where we’re at, and it shows what we’ve got in there [the dressing room].
“We’ll reflect on it. We’ve done very well and it’s a very good team they’ve got. Most teams will be against the ball when they play here, we could’ve used the ball better at times. We’ve done a lot of good things, we’re still progressing.”
After the first two games of the season, McLean says the squad is feeling confident and spoke positively about the travelling support.
“You see the fans out there, the way they were singing, and all the noise and getting behind us. I think that speaks volumes, we’re all coming together. We need to give them something to shout about.
“When they make that noise and get behind us, I think that shows we’re doing something right.”
And without a single sycophantic thought in my mind: thanks for that Mr Mayor!
Us supporters like to feel wanted by Norwich City and, despite what the suits might think, particularly by the players.
Your words have not gone unnoticed by us, I can assure you.
Talking of “suits”, mention was made that Mark Attanasio and his close family group were at St Mary’s on his way back to Milwaukee from a summer vacation to see his Italian-American family in the home of Peroni, pizza, and Andrea Pirlo.
The Pink Un reported said fact yesterday morning, with Stuart Webber missing from the list of prominent attendees. There’s nothing particularly unusual in that before anybody thinks I’m having a dig by the way because I’m not. He cannot possibly attend every match!
What I did find a little bit strange was that the report included the line:
“Despite not witnessing Norwich record three points, they return Stateside feeling more enthused about their relationship with the club than ever.”
Now call me a pedant if you will, but how can the reporter possibly know that if he hasn’t spoken with any one of the Attanasio clan?
Watch out Mystic Kev – you’ve got some new competition on the block!
Before I leave you, dear readers, I’d just like to wish my MFW Posse contributor Herr Cutz, aka Cutty, all the very best for a speedy recovery after spending the last week as a guest of the Norfolk & Norwich.
Glad you’ve escaped at last mate and you know the next line: here’s to a full and speedy recovery – keep a-troshin’. (And so say all of us – Ed).
My mate Al said to me over the weekend that we’ve been playing with the devil in us for the last two games and there’s been something downright piratical about our approach.
Older readers will remember Johnny Kidd [I don’t actually, I’m a few years too young] and the Pirates, what with Shakin’ All Over and a couple of other minor hits in the early 1960s. Kidd died in a car crash in 1965, but against all odds, The Pirates carried on without him and earned a very good living on the R&B circuit in London and beyond.
Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson is always quick to acknowledge Pirates guitarist Mick Green as both a maestro and a huge influence who could more or less play rhythm and lead at the same time!
I’ve seen both bands several times and it’s easy to see what he means.
If you wanted a loud rock ‘n’ roll band in a hot sweaty pub like the Brecknock or the Roundhouse in North West London these guys were impossible to better until the advent of Wilko, Lee Brilleaux, and Co.
Enjoy Johnny B. Goode as you’ve never heard it before. And let’s hope we learn to batten down the hatches a bit better if we’re going to continue with this new-found piratical playing style.