Lukas Wallis is a Norwich fan, based in Cardiff. The increased distance results in a slightly different perspective on this joyful season thus far
After a calamitous day at home, it’s back on the road again for City, and as a Norwich fan from Cardiff, the road is where I belong.
While the prospect of a trip to Everton could be scary, we, as a club have to believe that we can go and win some points. But while points are important, they’re not the be all and end all. Don’t get me wrong, I screamed at the TV long after the Watford game had ended, but that desperation for points, for any form of salvation, whether that’s with injuries, results or getting that next away ticket, reminds me just why we love this game.
It’s not always perfect, and it certainly hasn’t been this year, but to go from mid-table at best in the Championship to the Premier League so quickly was never going to be easy. Webber and Farke made it possible, and now we need to do all we can to back them. This journey is what showed the world Norwich City once again, and I think, sometimes, it’s worth slowing down a bit, especially with an international break, to take in just how magnificent the past year or so has been.
Last season started and ended in Birmingham, with a Birmingham City away day kicking off a season full of injury time goal fests. On that day, Teemu Pukki wasn’t playing as a striker, and Ben Marshall was starting games. Perhaps even more bizarre is that Jimmy Husband started that day. I won’t lie to you and say I knew what was coming with those players, but I wasn’t sold on Marshall, I knew there was something about Pukki, and I knew there was absolutely nothing about Husband.
45 games later, we saw a much changed team at Villa Park; a changed back four, central two, right winger and a changed position for Pukki to boot shows the development a season can bring. That day our season ended with a signature Super Mario strike at Villa Park, and a classic Teemu Pukki snaffle, things we didn’t have a chance of seeing at St Andrews. We don’t have the numbers in our squad this year to make such changes, and they wouldn’t necessarily work as fluidly, but once injury problems subside (god forbid), Farke will be able to do more in terms of changing the dynamic of the side. We all know the Premier League is a different animal, but who’s to say lady luck won’t be on our side every now and then?
Driving back across the Severn Bridge that day, with my Dad and sister in tow, we reminisced about the best free transfer in history signing for us (not Marley Watkins), the transition of Stiepermann, second to only Nelson Oliviera on my summer clear-out list yet becoming a dominating number 10 in our free-flowing attack, even as far back as Max’s debut in my home city; a night where we knew that we had a player on our hands, as we came to know our team was capable of triumph.
I would argue that’s where our form started, in my home city, on a night where I had to control my swearing because my Grandpa tagged along. On a personal note, the majority of my friends are Cardiff City fans, so it was a welcome victory for me, and it’s always nice to have an away game that on paper is 6 hours closer than the home ground.
That victory was followed by 12 wins out of 16 in the league. Now I’m not saying by any stretch that we’re going to storm the Premier League, however, I know, I think many of you know, and I’m certain that the club know, that we have the ability to stay up this year.
Our mentality is fragmented by a stream of injuries seemingly flowing faster than our physios can deal with, but if we believe that there are points out there for us, with Zimbo back and Vrançic at full fitness (not to mention the rest of them) I am certain that we have a team capable of fighting for our right for top-flight football. That’s all I ask as a fan, that my team leaves it all out on the pitch. That way on the drive home from Everton we might not be talking about three points or maybe even one, but we’ll be talking about the worldie of a save Tim Krul has made to keep us in the game, or a triumphant tackle from the (hopefully) returning Mann Aus Stahl himself Christoph Zimmerman, maybe we’ll even see Pukki back on the scoresheet, just so he can finally shrug off the weight of the media’s prying eyes.
Of course, there aren’t many certainties in this game, but ultimately, come the end of the year, we will have a Head Coach who has put Norwich on the map, a Sporting Director capable of sheer and utter magic, and a bobblehead of a beautiful parka-donning man nodding on my mantelpiece.
My love for our club won’t waver over a few bad results, and while they get the blood pumping, they won’t be what this season is remembered for. That’ll be beating the champions of England, hopefully seeing Pukki take Finland to their first ever major competition, and perhaps, even us staying up against the odds.
I write this as we sit at the foot of the Premier League table, looking up at an ever-smaller list of teams that could take our place, but come the end of the year, after a few more long trips, our hopes rest with the man at the helm, our Herr Farke, and there is no man I would rather be the captain of our ship.