No, there's something in YOUR eye. Jon and Andy get all sentimental about the man who gave so much, while also trying to review a fitting send off for the legend.
Random star performer
Nothing random about this pick. On any other day, Mario Vrancic’s range of passing and increasing desire to get involved in the ugly side of the midfield battle would see him win out. The Bosnian’s growing emergence in a midfield 4 (or 5 depending on how you define it) has been one of the biggest plusses of the latter stages of the campaign. However, this was all about Sir Wesley of Hoolahan.
In his wide role Wes looked a little isolated, struggling to shake off the ring rust until his fortuitous strike trickled over the line, but from that moment onwards the little Irishman rolled back the years and lit up Carrow Road on a dreary afternoon. During the second 45 Hoolahan started to occupy the pockets of space he’s best known for, setting a number of moves into motion which nearly resulted in the winning margin being much wider.
Moment of the match
In a way, there’s too many to speak of. The guard of honour and accompanying South Stand mosaic demonstrated the club had pitched this one perfectly. Josh Murphy’s incredulous second half Cruyff turn on the half way line was orgasmic too.
But this moment could not be any more obvious had it jigged its way into view wearing a green, orange and white bow-tie and a top hat made to resemble a pint of Guinness.
When Wes cocked his leg to hit that shot a full 25 yards out, the chances of it having enough power to go in were low. The chances of it nestling in the Leeds net were smaller than he is. That the ball proceeded to clip the outstretched leg of a defender, loop up and over the despairing young keeper, thud into the post, spin back across the goal line onto the other post and then, finally, nurdled across the line proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Wes is an actual Messiah. The players’ reaction to their colleague’s equaliser was testament to the respect shown inside the dressing room for a man it’s doubtful we’ll see the likes of again.
Get the wizard a statue. Now. We’ll even sell more t-shirts to fund it.
Before the game, Farke was adamant that under his watch "we don't do presents", which bodes well for the levels required from the players he'll have around next season.
His treatment of Wes, in handing him the armband and a starring role, was less of a gift and more a unification of a club that has too long been divided. If Glenn Roeder showed how not to handle the departure of heroes, Farke played this just right and enhanced his own position accordingly.
Away from Wes, this was a competent and determined performance against a side who started well. When Leeds took the lead with a tremedous strike, it would have been all too easy to fold but City kept at it and ultimately wore the visitors down until their aggressive early thorniness was reduced to a nubbin. Slight surprise here at the inclusion of Oliveira, who’s future seems destined to be away from Carrow Road. The same might be said for many others, but they were more worthy of the goodbye they received.
Biggest positive to take
Given the likely squad churn this summer, this extended pre-season is unlikely to reveal much about what the team will look like next term.
However, what we are learning is Farke's teams are not ones to give up and throw in the towel in the way many Leeds fans accused their team of yesterday. Resolute and determined performances against promotion hunting Cardiff and Preston earlier this month were followed up again here.
The fact City weren’t reliant on players who are headed for the exit door when it came to chance creation was also pleasing. Vrancic, Hernandez and Murphy all provided highlights, the latter enjoying a second half which saw him receive the ball much deeper, subsequently allowing him more space to employ the trickery and pace he hasn’t utilised enough over the course of the season.
Ok, let’s talk about the Leeds fans. A wall of noise during the first half, a wall of turd the second. That they had the disrespect to try and sour Wes’ exit from the pitch spoke volumes of their character. They then proceeded to give it the large ‘Come on, you, outside’ upon the final whistle, just for good measure. Like that was ever going to happen. Luckily Carrow Road wasn’t really paying attention to their perennially irrelevant nonsense.
One minor quibble here too, when did the lap of ‘appreciation’ (preceded of course by the lap of ‘honour’) become the lap of ‘recognition’? Seems like we’re going backwards here.
The send off afforded to Hoolahan was fantastic. But before the players’ circling of the pitch after the final whistle, there was a particularly rousing rendition of ‘Weeeeee’ve got Angusssss’ which stirred memories of the appreciation shown for his father. All that was missing was an attempted headbutt of the crossbar and a ‘Gunny, Gunny give us a wave’. This wasn’t peak Carrow Road, but at times it felt like everyone was together, and that isn’t experienced too often anymore.
A fitting send off for the magician, an actual home win. The finer details will quickly fade, but this will live long in our collective memories as the day we said goodbye to a true City legend.
Goodbye Wes. We will undoubtedly miss you.
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