Paddy Davitt verdict: Arrogant Canaries should not be dismissed
PUBLISHED: 14:50 29 December 2019 | UPDATED: 22:33 29 December 2019
It might have been kidology from Jose Mourinho. But he was right about one thing. Norwich City's 'arrogance' means this Premier League survival fight is not over.
Tottenham's cunning boss lavished praise on the Canaries ahead of his side's visit.
There was almost a benevolent undercurrent, in the same manner Jurgen Klopp was left smiling at the 'cheeky' approach of Daniel Farke's fearless squad on the opening night at Anfield.
Mourinho was adamant City's slim points haul was not a true reflection of their brand of football, or their ability to mix it with the aristocracy.
"They are arrogant in the good sense of the word, the arrogance I like," he said.
"They play football, they want to play, they want to win matches. They know how to play. I like them very, very much."
Well, City certainly lived up to the billing. No quarter was asked or given.
A team who graced the Champions League final only a few months ago, stacked with world class attacking talent and now guided by a coach who for all his recent struggles should still be regarded as a modern great, had it all on to subdue a side rock-bottom at a raucous Carrow Road.
A team lurching from one frustrating outing to another of late.
A team seemingly incapable of marrying positive play with productivity. A team suffering while those around them, notably Watford and Southampton, pick up momentum and threaten to ride over the hill.
But all that background noise was ignored for one frenetic, pulsating stanza. Not even another VAR episode - which merely confirmed for the majority of those present it is a blight on the game at the elite level in its current form - could deny Farke's side something tangible for their efforts.
There was still a palpable sense of a missed opportunity at the final whistle.
Fuelled in part by an acceptance wins have to be the currency of choice now after a paltry number of points harvested in the first half of the season. Perhaps also the realisation more self-inflicted errors framed the final outcome.
Tom Trybull was levered off the ball in the Tottenham half and within seconds Harry Kane was tumbling over Christoph Zimmermann's desperate lunging tackle inside the area at the other end.
Tim Krul has been a colossus from the penalty spot this campaign, without his due reward by and large, but Kane is a cut above from 12 yards.
With plenty of time left, plus a generous dollop added for good measure, the natural inclination for those of a green and yellow persuasion was to fear the worst; to wait for the inevitable Tottenham winner and scant consolation from another hard luck story.
But Norwich resisted. It was the least they deserved for a refusal to buckle.
It was also a fitting way to end a 2019 that brought a remarkable Championship title triumph and financial stability.
A limp, desperate, losing finale to the past 12 months would have been out of kilter with what Farke and the majority of this squad, allied to a network behind the scenes under Stuart Webber, have engineered.
Yes, the water is deep right now. The final destination may still be a swift return to the Football League, but it would be unwise to pen the obituary before 2020 even dawns.
There remains one unanswered question for Farke and his battling players.
One definitive statement that will decide their top flight status come May.
While it is admirable to mix it with Manchester City or Leicester or now Tottenham those are delicious extras. The staple diet in the Premier League must be finding a way to get the better of clubs outside that top bracket.
Norwich's results against the lesser lights is frankly abysmal.
That Boxing Day defeat at an Aston Villa who were subsequently hammered by Watford over the weekend continued a depressing, regressive trend.
Which is why Crystal Palace's visit later this week may hold greater ramifications that what unfolded against Spurs.
The Eagles have pushed on since a Selhurst Park home win that could have been very different had Norwich cashed in during a fertile period. Sound familiar?
Palace have one or two eye-catching players and a wily coach in Roy Hodgson but it is the type of game Norwich simply have to find a way to win.
Otherwise this Premier League journey will be brief and defined by warm words and stand out solitary results against the best, rather than the consistency required to cross this huge divide.