Jon Punt reviews the most special of evenings at Carrow Road. Tell your kids, tell your grandchildren, tell anyone who will listen. You were there when our City beat that City.......
Random star performer
There were no random star performers. City’s line-up was, to a man, magnificent. A word for the debutants though. Ibrahim Amadou, starting his first Premier League match while out of his preferred position, repelled nearly everything that came his way. Buendia finally announced himself onto the worldwide stage with the kind of determined and accomplished display we all know he’s capable of. Cantwell picked up after the international break where he left off, with his box of tricks seemingly bursting at the seams.
For all their brilliance though, Sam Byram might just be the stand out. Composed from the off, defensively excellent, strong in the tackle and technically proficient with the ball. All on debut, while being asked to mark arguably one of the top 5 players in the world. Quite the baptism of fire for a player whose career has been blighted by injury. On that showing however, Max might just be worried about regaining his place in the side.
Moment of the match
Cantwell doubling Norwich’s advantage turned hope into belief. The Dereham youngster won’t score a simpler strike, but the goal itself was trademark City of 2018-19. Watch it back, look at the weight of the passing after Buendia wriggles free. No-one has to break stride in a move which was pure Farkeball.
This was a night of many moments though. The sight of Christoph on crutches isn’t exactly what the #ZimboAppreciationSociety want to see, but to see him emerge onto the pitch to be part of the celebrations spoke of the togetherness of this group. Everyone is involved, whether they have treatment room troubles or not.
McLean, Amadou and Stiepermann also shared moments with the fans too, asking the stands to raise their game and in turn they’d match them. As a supporter you can easily fall into the trap of becoming disconnected from the players. Not with this Norwich City side though.
Not much the gaffer could do in terms of his starting eleven. Anyone who was even half fit got the nod, Michael McGovern maybe even fancied a quick cameo in midfield based on the balance of the bench. Yet maybe a siege mentality kicked in as the injury ravaged remnants of the squad realised even remote tribes in Papua New Guinea had heard of the crisis and written the Canaries off.
Farke had other ideas to the doomsayers. It was a tactical masterclass, with City quite happy to concede possession in wide areas, only really pressing the ball when the visitor’s wingers got a sight of goal. When Norwich played, they were valiant and stuck to their principles, playing through Pep’s press with verve and swagger. That’s all we really wanted to see from Farke’s men, the 3 points was just the best of surprises.
Biggest positive to take
This team is brave. This manager is brave. These fans are starting to dare to be brave. At times the sheer arrogance of playing around the megastars and through the thirds was a joy to behold. The recruitment over the summer shows that the emphasis remains on technical excellence on a shoestring, and the new boys delivered. Amadou and Byram already get it, they’ve been honed into Farke’s image quickly and that can only bode well given the challenges that will persist.
Nothing to see here, move along.
Where to start? The inaugural ACN live event in the Russell Allison lounge went off without a hitch, and while there’s lessons to learn in terms of making it bigger and better next time around, it was very well received. Hucks was a star, The Revere got people rocking and Tom even kind of fact checked his quiz. Everyone had a lovely time, we hope.
And then there was the small matter of taking on one of the world’s best sides, who are certainly up there in terms of the Premier League’s greatest outfits. We needn’t have worried, Carrow Road was rocking. Even during the opening exchanges, when it seemed like a matter of time before Aguero and Sterling would combine to dismantle a Norwich side held together by sticking plasters, the crowd stayed with the boys. Then Mayor McLean pops up and the roof came off. At 2-0 you only had to look around for a few nanoseconds to find someone turning to their neighbour and mouthing something akin to ‘is this really happening?’
When Pukki restored a two goal cushion the task became different, it was about repelling anything Guardiola’s charges could throw at us, for as long as possible. The fans played their part in a way I can’t ever recall happening at home.
Every defensive header was cheered, together. Every block celebrated like a goal, together. Every hopeful lump back to Ederson applauded, together. These are special times. All four stands are involved, active participants in event football, together as one.
There may have been better atmospheres, better one off moments, louder roars, more spine tingling last minute winners which see people surfing down aisles of the Barclay. This was different, but amazingly different. The team was pushed over the line by the very 12th man Delia herself had asked for at half time 14 years ago. The opponents that day? A certain Manchester City. Bloody lovely that in perfect symmetry that we’re now responding to that call, all of us together.
This is one for the ages. There are not many occasions where the crowd spill out onto the streets surrounding FCR and continue to sing, but this was one of those times. Maybe I’m jumping fully overboard here, but it felt like that evening against Bayern, that afternoon at Wembley or when a certain Grant Holt scored three goals against a team that are fast becoming an irrelevance. Whatever happens from here, those boys have etched themselves into Canary folklore. Tell your grandchildren you were there.