There is rarely a happy visit to Craven Cottage for Norwich fans nowadays, but maybe things are different now. Rather than roll over and concede defeat, City battled back in some style. Let Ffion Thomas tell you about it....
Random star performer
On a purely aesthetic basis it has to be Daniel Farke, who strode out looking like something from The Matrix, top to toe in black with a very fetching long coat that will surely be the centrepiece of Norfolk’s AW17 lookbook. German managers are well known for their stylish touchline gear, but Farke’s getup made Joachim Löw’s V-neck jumper look like a school uniform – while, of course, being extremely practical for what was an afternoon of changeable weather.
Moment of the match
Nothing beats a late, late goal to snatch a point or three away from home, and by my reckoning it’s been nearly two and a half years (Gary Hooper at Bolton, April 2015) since we’ve last had one of those. Wes – having barely featured all pre-season – sauntered into the action and within minutes had crafted a ball impeccable in both placement and timing onto the chest of Oliveira, who kept it under complete control, put it beyond the keeper, and sent the away end into actual raptures.
The handball shout at close range from Russell Martin’s volley seemed stonewall, and its denial would presumably be a far bigger talking point had we not acquired an equaliser through other means – means which may have required a flicker of the eyes in the lineman’s direction, but for which frame by frame inspection reveals a spot on decision.
Biggest positive to take
That instead of fading away in the second half, as we did again and again last season, we grew in strength, dominated possession, and put pressure on Fulham, reducing a very swift and dangerous home side to counter-attacks but not succumbing to that all too familiar sucker punch. It remains to be seen if we can maintain it, but a combination of astute mid-game tactical changes and those famed double sessions in training are surely what got us the point in this instance.
In his immediate post-match comments Daniel Farke shut down any controversy over Nelson’s Oliveira’s celebration like he’d been doing PR all his life, but certain Norwich-supporting elements of the national broadcast media seemed compelled to dig it up again and create a hysterical scene on social media. It’s symptomatic of the media’s insatiable desire for ‘talking points’ – particularly on a weekend with no Premier League – but whether you think the line was overstepped or not, let’s also draw one under it and trust it will be properly dealt with in-house.
No matter how many disappointments we experience there, Craven Cottage on a summer’s day is still an enticing prospect – so much so that it would have been nice to be offered the rest of the tickets in the central blocks of the stand, instead of the entirely pointless attempt to create a no-mans-land of empty seats. The anticipation could easily have been sucked out of the crowd, particularly going in at half time a goal behind, but the fans kept behind the team throughout with great vocal support, and in the last few minutes the stand was literally bouncing.
A point away on the opening day at a bogey ground against a very strong side, when we’re at double figures in injuries and suspensions and most of those starting are still getting to learn each other’s names? I’ll take that all day long – and although the point was undoubtedly hard earned – love those Zimmermann inch perfect tackles – both old and new faces showed their willingness and ability to play to Farke’s vision of passing football. Both teams contributed to what was an excellent game, and there is much to be positive about as the fixtures begin to fall a little friendlier, the personnel return, and the familiarity between players, coach, and English football grows.