Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s tense 3-2 Championship win against Hull City
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his Hull City verdict after the Canaries’ 3-2 Championship triumph
1. Vamos Emi
You can certainly feel the nerves and the tension. That Premier League bounty is no longer on the horizon. It is right at the end of the street and City continue to hurtle along a couple of steps quicker than either Leeds or Sheffield United.
But again at Carrow Road there was an anxious period just after half-time, when the play was laboured and the weight of that growing expectancy hung heavy in the air. For all bar one man.
Maybe it is a window into Emi Buendia’s character but the Argentine maestro is rising to the challenge and now leading the way. There was a thumping match winner to sink Swansea last Friday. Here a brace and only David Marshall’s acrobatics denied him a hat-trick.
Buendia is positively relishing this run in. His team mates just have to cling on and dip his slipstream.
2. Farke Day
Not a bad way to celebrate a new longer term Carrow Road deal.
City stage-managed the announcement that Farke and his coaching brains had signed on until 2022 for the next phase of this leap into a fresh footballing culture. You sensed an extra buoyancy and an extra ounce or two of appreciation from the home fans at the final whistle towards their head coach, as he conducted by now his customary lap of appreciation.
Norwich supporters know the score. They know Farke has literally produced a footballing miracle to transform a squad weighed down with the sobering financial reality of existing in a post-parachute payment world.
To lead the Championship with nine games left, to take those same supporters on a magic carpet ride of thrilling football and spectacular comebacks is frankly strtling. And now the prospect of more to come, if Farke can embellish the foundations in place. No wonder he lingered a touch longer at the final whistle to take it all in.
3. Front running fun
A few nervy moments, yes, but hardly grounds to argue leading from the front is beginning to wear on this group of players and management.
After a scratchy win against Swansea to then sit and watch both Leeds and Sheffield United do the business on Tuesday may have left some Norwich fans feeling slightly queasy.
But Leeds’ spell at the top was brief, while the Blades are now four points adrift again with the small matter of a weekend collision at Elland Road. That says a lot about Norwich’s character and the resolve.
By no stretch could you argue City’s football is as freeflowing or vibrant as their best spells this season. But what remains reassuringly consistent is the richness of their winning seam.
To respond from that jarring defeat at Preston with five straight league wins can only deflate the chasing pack. Farke spoke in the build up about his squad’s staying power. It is there in abundance.
4. Just don’t mention ‘game-management’
The suggestion City need to tighten up in periods of games when they are so superior to Championship rivals met with a stiff response from Farke in his post-match briefing.
Safe to say, Norwich’s head coach does not accept his side’s recent play has at times been laced with a lack of composure and control, particularly in central midfield areas.
Norwich found a way again and Farke was quick to point out the impressive points haul from the last 10 league games. That is irrefutable evidence but by the same token City allowed Hull a whiff of encouragement through a calamitous self-inflicted error and then an uncertain period before Buendia’s match-clinching goal.
The sight of Jamal Lewis careering on the overlap in stoppage time before Hull countered in the space vacated by the defender is a symbol of the verve Farke wants but there is also a time and a place.
5. Krul to be kind
There were at least two escapes in the previous home win against Swansea, when Welsh international Dan James turned on the after burners to harass City’s number one with the ball at his feet in his own penalty area.
On the second occasion it took a sliding challenge deep inside his own box to rectify a heavy first touch. There was no such fortune in first half stoppage time against the Tigers, when he choked a clearance that ended in his own net when Marc Pugh returned it with interest.
It was needless and it was sloppy. Farke spoke of his annoyance but credit Krul he used all his experience to respond in the right manner in the second period.
But there was a noticeable gear change - in terms of the urgency with which he got the ball away - when his defenders found him in the second period.
Krul will not need telling. He made it clear earlier in the season he is his own worst critic.
The Dutch international has earned more points than he has let slip.