This is turning into the weirdest of seasons.
With so many off-pitch distractions, Norwich City FC has become a soap opera all of its own, yet, somehow, with unquestionably our worst team since Glenn Roeder’s rotten Class of 2009, we remain in touch with the playoffs via some of the unlikeliest of wins.
None more so than last night’s, which I don’t believe anyone saw coming, not least Sky Sports who had decided the outcome and the hero before a ball had been kicked.
The MOTM trophy had already been etched with the name ‘Fabio Carvalho’ and the red carpet already prepared for Liam Rosenior’s post-match coo, but somehow, through sheer guts, determination, and some Angus Gunn brilliance, our Canaries scuppered the love in.
I’m pretty sure Jonathan Rowe will see having another player’s name on his trophy as a small price to pay for being the real Man of the Match, although he should probably agree to share it with Angus.
But the real winners were the 1300 mentalists who decided that on a Friday night, with the game on live TV, they would still make the trek to Humberside. The win was for them. Heroes all.
In addition to Messrs Gunn and Rowe, a couple of the oldies dug deeper than they have done at any time this season and produced heroics of their own, but not even Ashley Barnes and Shane Duffy were able to usurp the efforts of the magnificent 1300.
We salute you, just as the players and head coach did at the end.
Rosenior took defeat with all the grace of Kieran McKenna but clearly had a point about Dimi Giannoulis being lucky to stay on the pitch following his stray elbow into the side of Lewis Coyle’s head. But at least, in addition to giving Rosenior something else to whine about, it gave Sky’s pundits – Michael Dawson and Clinton Morrison – something to focus on at halftime other than Jonny Rowe’s brilliant goal.
For Dawson, ex-Hull City, it was almost too much to bear. Injustice was etched all over his face. Morrison just kept it real … at least I think that’s what he aiming for.
It was a lead that City had done little to deserve, in truth, and that piece of Rowe brilliance had no place on that potato patch of a pitch, with neither side able to produce anything resembling quality on the ball.
Hull had most of the possession of course – that was David Wagner’s intention – so for Hull to ‘dominate the ball’ was nothing for Rosenior to get all fluffed up about (even though he did), although as a City fan, it is tiring seeing us set up in such a dour, defensive way.
This isn’t a great City team by any stretch – we’ve long established that – but there are still enough talented players in that group to produce quality. Yet, only if given the platform to do so, can that quality come to the fore. Rowe’s moment in that first half arrived despite the system, not because of it.
But it afforded City a lead and something to cling to.
The second half was more of the same, albeit was performed without the services of Giannoulis who was again hooked at halftime. Seldom has a player ever played so many half-games.
Hull dominated possession, as Rosenior reminded us and as Wagner intended, and Gunn, when called upon was quite brilliant.
The defending was as dogged as dogged could be and after a nightmarish start to the game that, thankfully didn’t yield a goal from one of his errors, Duffy turned into Superman. At the heart of that City defence, he was quite magnificent when a head or a boot or a block was required.
This was the Irishman at his best. Defending. Battling. With no necessity to pick passes and get things moving with the ball. Give him a ball to header and he’ll header it all day long.
Ashley Barnes too, despite not having a single shot on target and barely (if at all) touching the ball in the Hull penalty box, defended from the front in exemplary fashion, and produced what must surely be his best shift in a City shirt.
And it was a couple more of our Dad’s Army who combined for what turned out to be the winner.
Onel Hernandez, from somewhere, produced a peach of a cross when normally it would be either over or under-hit, and Christian Fassnacht made one of those far post runs that he’d been famous for until he arrived at Norwich.
An even bigger surprise than Onel’s quality cross was that, as that ball hit the net, Rosenior didn’t spontaneously combust. Diddums.
There were a few nervous moments to endure having conceded a 91st-minute consolation but hung on they did.
Bizarre. But good bizarre.
It was a win that, for most City supporters, did little to re-endear them to Wagner-ball, which is now based solely on the premise of parking the bus and hoping against hope that Sara, Sargent, Sainz, Nunez, or Sargent can somehow produce a moment of magic.
No system. No method. No smooth passing patterns. Just a desire to dig in and hope for the best.
But it was also a win, which will be more than enough for Delia and Michael and their little cabal of suits to strengthen that protective ring around Wagner and each other.
But it was a win.
Note to all: Am currently in the midst of an email outage (don’t ask), so for those trying to contact me or send me articles, please use firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.