Daniel Farke made his competitive home debut, by eschewing English traditions and not treating the League Cup with utter disdain. Andrew Lawn went along to see how that went.
Random star performer
I refuse to give this to the goose and not because one once chased me 50 yards at Whitlingham, but for other unrelated and unimportant reasons.
James Maddison is the obvious one here. This lad is getting better with every passing game, blessed with quick feet, composure and eye for a pass that are startling reminiscent of at least two of his teammates. Sure we have a glut of Number 10’s but oh my are they good.
Another mention too for Daniel Farke, both for not paying lip service to the competition and playing a full-strength side. His excellent handling of the somehow still ongoing Oliveira nonsense is also worthy of mention.
Moment of the match
Did I mention I hate geese?
The moment for me was the third goal and the ensuing on-pitch celebrations. First, it must be said, the goal was excellent. Sublime one-touch passing, similar to the time Arsenal and Jack Wilshere pulled our pants down at the Emirates and only slightly tainted by the middle-aged guy next to me (Jon Punt) describing it as “a sex goal”. Ugh.
Goal scored, Maddison was mobbed by his teammates, but just outside the little huddle of City players, Christoph Zimmerman had arrived and stood imploring his teammates to switch back on and concentrate. Given we’d just gone 3-1 up at home to a League 2 side and members of the crowd were beginning to debate how many we might go on to score, it was a promising sign of leadership, professionalism and nous, that we were sorely lacking last season.
I have a theory, backed up with purely circumstantial evidence and sustained by confirmation bias, that whenever I notice a referee’s name before kick-off, that same official will go on to have a terrible game. It is therefore a clear sign that he had a good game, that I had to google who last night’s man in the middle was. Well done Geoff Eltringham, whoever you are.
Biggest positive to take
There’s a couple here, both of which are signs something is changing, even if we are far from the finished article. The first is that for 3 games in a row now (if you count the pre-season friendly vs Brighton), we have fought back from going behind. Under Alex Neil you always felt that the first goal was the winner. If we got it, we often sauntered on to a comfortable win, but whenever we conceded it, we fell apart and you knew the game was as good as over. Not so now.
The second, is that not only have we shown a desire and willingness to fight back into games, we also displayed a resilience to hold the lead once we had it. When Swindon halved the deficit with half an hour still to play, it would have been all too easy to panic and allow them back into the contest. That we stood up to the ensuing barrage bodes well.
Set-pieces. We’re not very good at defending them are we? Worringly Swindon’s goals were carbon copies of one another and were not the only two very good chances they created. City’s new fangled approach of holding a high-line and then, led by Zimmerman’s audible calls of “wait, wait, wait – GO”, dropping deeper only as the ball is delivered left much to be desired and many opponents completely free in front of goal.
Daniel Farke’s post-game comments about there being work to do here ahead of Sunday, but that it was an “easy” fix, are interesting and time will tell if they can arrest a long-running issue in 4 days.
While more vocal than the pre-season friendly it felt like, a crowd of just over 13,000 meant Carrow Road was less than half full and had an atmosphere to match.
50 of the 200 or so visitors tried to enjoy themselves and were matched in a low-key kind of way by the Barclay. Despite a complete lack of current or historical rivalry and the borderline friendly nature of the game, the songs themselves (“We hate Swindon, oh we hate Swindon”) were filled with a head-scratching level of animosity. We don’t hate Swindon. How can you hate the only league team in England not to contain any of the letters in the word ‘mackerel’? You can’t.
An instantly forgettable game (note the lack of any real details here for example) illuminated by a fantastic 3rd goal.
We’re through. Job done. Fingers crossed for an exciting 2nd round tie. I see Ipswich beat Luton…