MIDDLESBROUGH (A) THE REVIEW

27/09/17

Another tricky away day, another 1-0 victory. Binary football is fast becoming the Norwich way, but who cares? 5 consecutive league clean sheets and more importantly 3 precious points. Dughall McCormick was one of the intrepid 428 who made the trip north, let him tell you all about it.....

Random star performer

Had to think hard about this one. There were a few contenders in a team where they were all solid to a man. On balance, I'd give this one to Angus Gunn. Although he was well shielded by an extremely sound defence he was there again when it mattered and needs to be recognised as a key factor in the extraordinary run of clean sheets.

Moment of the match

That post-match huddle. It says so much about what Daniel Farke has built in terms of unity, team spirit and a shared commitment to success. This is a team alright. Contrast that with a solitary Jonny Howson making his way over to offer his appreciation to the NCFC faithful who returned the compliment before giving fulsome and deserved praise to the team in yellow and green.

Referee watch

An unspectacular performance in which four Norwich players picked up yellows ('mostly' justifiable I'd say and in the face of a fairly relentless attacking onslaught by Boro).

Biggest positive to take

I don't need to spell this out do I? Another clean sheet. That's five in a row now. Five! A club record. 513 minutes without conceding. What's more this string of results follows trouncings mere weeks prior at the likes of Villa and Millwall. It is this transformation that is so remarkable and this is what feeds my optimism. Farke is clearly a reflective manager who not only recognises when something isn't working but also has the technical nous and coaching ability to respond accordingly and, most importantly, the leadership to bring everyone with him in that change.We all know The Championship is a topsy-turvy league where we can expect to lurch from highs to lows in a matter of days.

It feels good (and refreshing) to know that the manager has it within him to change the plan where necessary and manage games with precision and pragmatism as he did at The Riverside so successfully.

Weekly whinge

I cannot criticise Cameron Jerome on his recent performances. He is a tireless contributor whose work benefits the whole team and particularly others around him. He would rarely score under 10/10 for effort.Strange then that he should feature as a weekly whinge. It's not him as much as his frustrating inability to get on the scoresheet at the moment - particularly during Oliveira's injury absence. Now we've sorted the defence, it's goals we need at the other end and if CJ could just get back into scoring form...

Atmosphere rating

Terrific. A small, passionate band of travellers cheered the lads on relentlessly for 95 minutes. Much of the passion was (rightly) aimed at "Super Tommy Trybull!"

I love being a predominantly away supporter, you're invariably amongst people who have invested considerable time and money into being there and they're going to make sure they enjoy it. As for Boro; a drum... Need I say more?

Summary

On paper this was probably one of Norwich's toughest encounters so far this season. Away, at a team that oozes class and should be strong contenders for promotion with good home form. Who wouldn't have happily taken a point?

What we witnessed was a very well executed game plan. For the opposition, this is deeply frustrating stuff (cf Sheffield Utd) and to a certain extent, this was uncomfortable viewing for us.

It is toe-clenchingly tense to sit through an hour or more of relentless attacks and Middlesborough didn't hold back (21 shots, 5 on target to Norwich's 7 in total) however, the relief and joy when it comes off makes it worth it. This was not pretty football but it was 3 points and I'll live with that.

Finally, there were moments in the first half particularly where you looked at Norwich and couldn't help being struck by the confidence and organisation of the side. Everyone clearly knows exactly what they have to do. For the first time for a very long time, I found myself thinking, 'We are a seriously tidy outfit'. Long may this last!


While you're here.

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