Nervy, edgy and a sometimes a quiet Carra. But it's three big points as the games left continue to tick down. Here's Nick Hayhoe to tell you all about it.....
Biggest positive to take
One of football's more true clichés is the one that says if you scrape 1-0 wins when you play badly then you're in a very good situation indeed (conversely, as Ipswich are discovering, if you keep playing well and still lose, then you are in serious trouble). While we didn't play *badly*, we were nowhere near our best so a win and clean sheet is a sensational result.
There’s huge pressure on Sheffield United and Leeds now, and we can watch them mess it up from the comfort of our own sofas.
If Leeds had watched, what was it? Over 100 hours? of videos of us and then got battered, then I would love to know how much Swansea watched, considering they (unlike Leeds) set up to play against us properly. While I am no Jonathan Wilson, even I could tell we were finding it very hard to cope with their high and relentless press. McLean looked a little out of his depth (even if it is impossible to dispute his selection in the XI), and there were a lot of forced errors as we tried to play out from the back - including one bowel freezing moment early in the first half where Krul dithered on the ball a bit too long.
Once or twice I remarked towards the end of the 1st half that it was unlikely they could sustain that pressure for such a long time and so this proved; there was nowhere near the level of intensity from them in the second half, and we came right back into the game. Frankly, we got away with it a bit in the first.
While I am here, in a bit of selfish mood, and in the knowledge that the club’s Chief Operating Officer has been recently associated with this fanzine (*cough* download the podcast *cough*), I would like to request that we fix the leaky roof in the Barclay if we get promoted. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Moment of the match
Watching the game from behind the goal is brilliant, as, out of all the (potentially) hundreds of thousands of people watching the game, when a goal like that gets rifled in, you are one of only a handful of people who had that particular live view of it. In this particular situation, I was honestly right behind it (I really was!) and man what a strike.
My dad likes to say how he was right behind the goal when Fashanu’s goal of the season went in and now I get to say it about Emi Buendia’s thunderbastard against Swansea.
Random Star Performer
Difficult to pick anyone out, so as the match was played on International Women's Day I will go for all of the mums of all of our players.
I hope they all know that the sons they had loved, raised, nurtured, inspired and guided are all making lots of people so happy.
While this breaks my kayfabe persona I like to keep as the forever-wronged, cynical, fan; I actually personally quite like football on a Friday if for no other reasons than it selfishly frees up a weekend and it’s quite nice to watch the results come in without having to worry.
However, this was a perfect demonstration as to why kick off shifts to Monday and Friday nights just kill atmospheres. It’s tricky to slip out of that Very Serious work mode and into the polar opposite mode that makes you shout and scream at 22 men kicking a ball around, so upon arrival, with no time to have a few beers after work, things can get a bit flat. Swansea had an understandably tiny contingent, which never helps matters as, while I am sure they did attempt to make some noise, they were never going to be heard. With nerves creeping in in the 2nd half, it took an actual, literal, rallying cry from Big Timm to get us going again. Additionally, as I had to catch a train and Greater Anglia can’t possibly put the train going to London back ten minutes after an evening game, I wasn’t able to risk sticking around for the applause and the Farkey Handy Wavey Thing afterwards - and I am sure I wasn’t alone in this. Applauding the team off after a win has become a really brilliant part of this season (because, after all, they have really earnt their standing ovation on so many occasions) and I am pretty miffed that I had to miss it this time.
This all being said, we are a million miles from where we were. For a few seasons I didn’t go to Carrow Road that often because the atmosphere was so poor, and instead stuck to away games. Now, every home game has that “away day” excitement with regards to the atmosphere. The River End has its scarves aloft for OTBC, there’s an ad hoc singing section appearing in the South Stand and, in this most perfect of seasons, it was only a matter of time before a song based around a Stone Roses number came into action.
It was an unchanged XI again, and again, as I read the lineup on the train in, I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. There’s this niggling sense I can’t shake that the next game will be one game too many without Klose or Hanley. As it is, I keep being proved wrong on this, but with a quick fixture turnaround I do think it may be worth bringing either of them in for Hull. The trouble for Farke, of course, is that Godfrey is playing well enough to justify his selection.
It will be interesting to see how the man in the parka handles it.
If this were Football Manager, in the dressing room after the game I would select the “A good win boys, well done” option, and then quickly move onto the next game. While it wasn’t the sort of game we completely “got away with it”, it wasn’t one we really massively deserved to win either. In a way this is a good thing, because, like the Preston result, it helps guard against complacency. A good multi-goal win to nil win against Hull and we’ll be back in Farke dreamland.