Well, it couldn’t have been worse than Plymouth. The only way was up and, as it transpired, it was actually okay. Decent even.
The trouble with 6-2 defeats or the like is that they erode trust, as in the trust we have in the players. After a bruising 2022-23 that was in hellishly short supply but with points on the board early on and after a couple of good performances, it had slowly started to return. And then came Home Park.
So there’s a rebuild job to be done and a bright yet unsuccessful showing at Fulham coupled with yesterday’s win suggests it’s underway.
Still early days but there’s an element of comfort in David Wagner’s assertion that they identified specifically what went wrong in Devon and are convinced it was a one-off.
To be fair to Wagner, the decision to make just the one change from last Saturday was ballsy, especially after some decent individual performances in midweek, but also justified.
City’s determination to start on the front foot was helped by a compliant Birmingham, who were happy to sit in a mid-to-low block and allow us to have the ball.
Far be it for me to tell John Eustace how to set his team up, but having witnessed our team’s ability to implode, I’d have been sorely tempted to ‘have a go’ in the opening ten minutes while they were at their most vulnerable and fragile.
But no… luckily the Blues were happy to allow City to have the ball and in doing so those early touches helped rebuild the confidence and offered them the chance to build a solid platform from which to go and perform.
And they did.
It ended up being one of those rare afternoons where at no stage did it feel like City would lose the game – aside maybe for those few fleeting seconds early in the second half when Jay Stansfield saw the whites of Angus Gunn’s eyes but lucking planted one into his chest rather than the back of the net.
Had that gone in, the mood would have altered significantly but Angus standing tall was vital, especially as only a few minutes later City went up the other end and scored the first goal.
Goalkeepers who concede six and who are not blameless in doing so are entitled to feel a bit shellshocked and wobbly, so fair play to Gunn for an assured display and a clean sheet. It will have done him – and the rest of us – the world of good.
The goals when they came were both quality, but even in a first half that grew increasingly stodgy as the minutes ticked away, there were still moments in front of goal that promised of more to come – particulalrly when Adam Idah, on the half-turn, thundered a grass-cutter centimetres wide of John Ruddy’s left-hand post.
But whatever was said in the Norwich dressing room at halftime worked. From the get-go, from the moment Kenny McLean hit that raking forty-yarder onto the laces of Przemysław Płacheta, the tempo was set.
The ball was shifted two beats quicker and, as a result, the fluidity improved – exemplified perfectly when Płacheta rolled one into the path of Dimi Giannoulis who, rather than take a touch, clipped an inviting cross into the danger area.
As a result, Gabriel Sara was able to find himself a yard with his late run – enough time to bury that unstoppable header past Ruddy.
With their tails up, a second one looked inevitable, and with Hwang Ui-jo having entered the fray in place of Christian Fassnacht, the Korean produced his best touch so far in a Norwich shirt to cleverly flick one into the path of an onrushing Jon Rowe.
What happened next was, as James described in his match report, prime Dale Gordon.
The step-over, the dropped shoulder, the crisp left-foot strike. The Jonny Rowe of August had returned.
Inevitably, the Blues came out and had a go – they had to – and did create one or two dangerous moments; most notably when Miyoshi sent three defenders into Morrisons with a cut-back before thundering one against the crossbar. Gibson and Duffy had to buy tickets to get back in.
But, overall, it was nothing like the dying minutes against Stoke when we were waiting for our net to bulge. In the main, the defending was composed and the game management was on point – again the complete antithesis of the Potters’ visit.
So, a better day – one that went some way to healing the wounds of Home Park.
We’re not there yet. We still look a way off being contenders but at least the ship is steadied and a sceptical Carrow Road felt re-engaged as the post-match olés went up in front of a bouncing Barclay.
One week ago, a win of any description felt a million miles away, so we’ll take it.