Jon Punt reviews another win which leaves Farke's men in the top 6 for the first time in about a year. Time to start dreaming?
For the fourth league match in a row City shaded the contest by a single goal, yet looked fairly comfortable doing it. While Wigan caused Norwich some issues tactically, the visitors failed to register a shot on goal. We haven’t looked particularly troubled defensively for some time, one concession in four matches backs this up, all while skipper Hanley recuperates from his quadricep injury. That said, sterner tests are looming on the horizon.
Honourable mention for man of the moment Marco Stiepermann. While he lacks pace, his quick thinking more than makes up for it and once again was a central cog in much of his team’s better moments, feeding Pukki before he was felled late on.
Moment of the match
Mario Vrancic was cool enough to despatch his spot kick, with Wigan defenders doing their best to delay proceedings. The Bosnian’s redemption story is pretty much complete, his introduction from the bench did much to sway the match in City’s favour.
Random star performer
Referee Gavin Ward. Bear with me here.
This isn’t awarded to the official for a litany of perplexing decisions during the first half, but for pointing to the spot with just five minutes left on the clock when lesser men may just have waved it away. Too many times Norwich seemingly have been on the wrong end of officials whose ego has taken such a battering from the crowd’s barracking, that belligerence kicks in and their position as pantomime villain becomes even more entrenched.
Slim pickings here, yet Daniel Farke’s inevitable manager of the month award for September might just put the hoodoo on his charges in the next few weeks.
On a serious note however, the fact City weren’t offensively able to impose themselves as much as they would have liked until the manager shuffled his pack is perhaps one area which requires attention. City looked too ponderous and predictable at times, although much of this could be put down to the excellent job the Latics did of nullifying Norwich’s young full-backs and denying Leitner the space he needs to dictate play.
More animated than usual, albeit purely in frustration with the officials’ first half display. Farke resembled a drunk pleading with the bouncers to be let back into a nightclub, gesticulating in the vain hope his fortunes might turn and he could return to the bar for one more Hofmeister.
Of course City’s head coach had to make his own luck, this time with proactive substitutions. Vrancic’s ability to play delicate channel balls, which would initiate increasing joy in the final third, and Louis Thompson’s extra physicality at full back were two switches that weren’t altogether obvious to the footballing layman, yet they were enough to allow Norwich the opportunity to find a way to win.
The fact City left it until the 86th minute to grab the winner wasn’t the only reason Farke was made to sweat. During a sunny afternoon, he was in full on winter coat mode yet again, and who could blame him. Farke’s military green parka is quickly becoming a lucky charm, for all your stat fans here’s the breakdown of his jacket performances so far this term:
The lesson to be learnt here of course is that City’s kit man needs to apply a generous amount of Loctite to the lining of Farke’s green number, meaning an inevitable and glorious run to the Championship title, all wrapped up by Easter.
The age old argument of exciting performances bringing guaranteed atmosphere was kind of blown out of the water here, by virtue of the fact that the Carra was rocking as soon as City took the lead, despite the fact the game had been rather turgid. It’s not heart racing moments, but goals and refereeing debacles that seem to make sure the Barclay is at its loudest.
Once Norwich had edged in front, the atmosphere was glorious. An OTBC which seemed like all four sides of the ground participated in and an ‘up the Football League we go’ thrown in for good measure. For the first time in a long time, City fans dared to dream.
Wigan came with a game plan, and they were largely successful up until late in the game. Kudos to former City boy Paul Cook, his coaching team had clearly diligently done their homework and implemented a system which frustrated Norwich, who found it difficult to play through the thirds. In fact, at times they found it difficult to break out from their defensive lines.
Yet City prevailed, and their confidence will be strengthened because of it. October might just be season defining, if the Canaries are still in and around the top 6 at the end of the month they can start to legitimately harbour ambitions of the play offs and beyond. That’s getting ahead of ourselves for now though.
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