4 away wins in a row and a return of the kind of dogged resolve we'd all craved since Alex Neil lost his way home from St James' Park, Thomas Markham-Uden reviews a game (and run) which it's hard not to get a little bit carried away about.
Random star performer
Despite rightly receiving accolades from the media, fans and team mates, the fact that James Maddison is still cultivating those atrocious side burns means that this award is heading to Ivo Pinto. His evolution from rallying cult hero, in to captain and an invaluable part of our defence, continued against the Royals where he marshalled the home side’s wide attackers brilliantly, sought to get forward at appropriate moments and generally exemplified the strength of spirit that has characterised our recent upturn in fortunes.
It would be easy for his “pitch war yellow army” to become throwaway platitudes, but Pinto has consistently backed up his words on the pitch and deserves everyone one of the five songs that we apparently now have for him.
Moment of the match
It’s hard to look past Maddison’s opening free kick, isn’t it? Playing with the youthful assuredness that his recent performances have generated in him, from the moment Maddison stepped up to strike the ball one had the feeling that there was only one place it was ending up. I’m loathe to heap too much pressure on a player who is still in the infancy of his career, but it really does look as if we have a special player on our hands. Just lose the sideburns, yeah?
Rows of empty blue seats and a perennially quiet set of fans; can’t think who that reminds me of. Good job that the travelling Norwich fans were in good voice, giving rousing renditions to ‘Farke Life’ and serenading our German contingent with their contributions to our songbook; the “son of a Steipermann” chant being a particularly hard to shake worm for the remainder of the weekend.
A few puzzling decisions and I’m still not convinced Marley Watkins’ late lunge warranted a straight red. Thankfully it didn’t effect the result and this any gripes were forgotten not long after the final whistle.
Much was made of our recent stellar defensive displays prior to the game, but there was still a lingering worry over how we would react when we eventually did finally concede a goal. The fact that we maintained our composure and stuck to our game plan so efficiently after letting in the equaliser, and then managed the game so brilliantly after retaking the lead, speaks volumes about the impact that Farke’s methods are starting to have and made this one of the most satisfying victories in our recent run of positive results.
Eschewing some refereeing inconsistencies and not wishing to be pernickety in criticism of any players, I will save this week’s whinge for something quite insignificant, but that still grates every time it happens. To be fair, at this stage I’m not sure how much clearer we can make this, but the words to the end of the song are, “one City strong” and not, “when City score”. We tweet it all the time and even printed on a six foot long banner for goodness sake. What more do you people need?!
A thoroughly professional defensive display from every single player, sprinkled with some excellent attacking play and a sublime free kick: this isn’t my normal experience of Norwich away matches and, after a similarly vintage result at Middlesbrough in midweek, it’s hard to maintain perspective and not get too carried away.
That said, gloriously knee jerk predictions are all part of the giddy joy that envelops us all after such stellar performances and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting awfully excited about the prospects for the season ahead.
After the tumultuous early going, the turnaround and togetherness that has been fostered has been incredible and Farke and his team deserve the upmost credit for riding out that tricky spell. Long may it continue.
While you're here.
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