Paddy Davitt verdict: Dreaming the impossible dream for Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 12:07 18 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:49 19 August 2019
If this is a dream Norwich City fans do not want to wake up.
What unfolded in the glorious sunshine at Carrow Road transcended football. It was art, it was poetry, it was a beautiful, shared experience for all those lucky enough to be present.
Yes, in essence it was 22 young men, plus the odd substitute, kicking a ball around a patch of grass. But the manner of Norwich City's 3-1 Premier League victory against Newcastle United stirred the passions and fuelled the belief maybe the impossible is possible.
Maybe a striker who, in the post-match words of Grant Hanley cost the price of an air ticket from Finland, can hold his own against £40m-rated opponents at the other end of the pitch.
Maybe a young man from a quiet corner of Norfolk can cut a dash on the same stage as the star-studded names.
Perhaps a faith in youth, rooted in financial necessity as much as ideological vigour, can produce players like Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons who look born to operate in such rarefied air.
The eulogy could go on but you get the picture by now. Ben Godfrey, Moritz Leitner even an experienced operator like Tim Krul, who readily admitted days like the one which unfolded on Saturday might have been in the past following his horrendous knee injury which effectively spelt the end at Newcastle.
City were brave, committed and ferocious from front to back. The visitors' had their moments.
How different the outcome might have been had the unmarked Joelinton delivered the first payment on his extravagant transfer fee when the scores were level in the first half.
But Norwich under Daniel Farke tend not to deal in the hypothetical. At the core of this squad of unproven over-achievers lies a resolute belief in their head coach and his residually effective methods.
Promotion did not fall in City's lap. They grabbed it with both hands and refused to let go.
That fearlessness was evident at Anfield, after the early carnage had perhaps exposed the gulf in quality from the Championship and the need for the Canaries to wise up. The second half showing on Merseyside in a losing cause sowed the seeds for a Carrow Road homecoming that will live long in the memory.
You feel minded to caution about tough times ahead.
Perhaps when the wide-eyed wonder and the sense of awe at dazzling in the Premier League gives way to the grind which all newly-promoted clubs contend with in order to try and emerge the other side.
Heaven forbid, the nightmare scenario of injury to any of the indispensible actors in this cast list. Yet such hard-headed logic and cold pragmatism can wait. Nothing must be allowed to puncture this bubble of optimism, the feeling that Norwich's title-winning surge is not the zenith for the core of the same group of players.
The first top flight win is in the bank. A red letter day not just for Teemu Pukki, who rightly was lauded after becoming the first Norwich player to score a hat-trick among the elite since 1993, but also his team mates and the entire City family.
Outside forces may opt to sneer and disparage City's novel approach to bridging the divide. It may ultimately prove unsuccessful this time around, but contrast the emotions of the home fans with the world-weariness that appears to have infected Newcastle United; a proud club incapable of healing the rupture between owner and the patrons.
On this evidence Steve Bruce has a major task on his hands to avoid a prolonged season of struggle.
Norwich may well inhabit the same echelons, once the Premier League table really takes shape, but the ride will be thrilling, the excitement infectious and the football vibrant.
The hullabaloo that accompanies this top flight circus magnifies the highs and the lows. For as good as Norwich were, Newcastle parted rather too compliantly once Pukki had gathered Todd Cantwell's perfectly-timed pass to drill a shot through the legs of a defender past the unsighted Martin Dubravka.
But with Farke plotting an even course there is little danger the hype undermines the principles on which a near complete performance was forged; hard work, unselfishness, a total belief in the process. Woven around quality which should not be defined by the size of the price tag. Or the cost of the plane ticket.
Pukki embodies everything that is so good about City under Farke, who labelled him a 'role model' after his latest starring role.
This is a player who thinks nothing of racing 70 yards back into his own half to help Hanley subdue a Joelinton counter.
You are not dreaming Norwich City fans. It is real. Enjoy the ride.