Paddy Davitt verdict: Norwich City march to the sound of a new beat
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The leaping Daniel Farke instinctively knew the significance of Nelson’s Oliveira’s acrobatic stoppage time equaliser. On such moments a season can tilt.
Farke’s exuberant, airborne celebration, that greeted Oliveira’s 96th minute intervention, earned him a gentle rebuke from the official for landing inside the whitewash.
Carrow Road shook to its foundations as the striker was engulfed by his team mates and shattered Hull players slumped to the turf seconds later.
The recriminations gave way to reverberations. City’s pending failure to score for a third Carrow Road league game, against a team reduced to 10 men for 35 minutes plus a large helping of additional time, would have demanded searing analysis and a thirst for explanations.
Now that quest, to add real attacking potency to defensive obduracy – bar the lapse that allowed Nouha Dicko to punish disorganisation at the heart of Norwich’s backline - can be instigated against the backdrop of a derby build up to relish.
City will be tested at Portman Road. But it will not be any tougher than Sheffield United or Middlesbrough, or perhaps a resolute, well-drilled, streetwise Hull.
Michael Dawson used all his top flight experience to galvanise Leonid Slutsky’s depleted troops.
A policy of containment, once Dicko had opened the scoring, became an exercise in survival after David Meyler finally ran out of last chances for hauling down Yanic Wildschut.
Farke introduced Oliveira and Wes Hoolahan to support Cameron Jerome in a maddeningly frustrating search for a breakthrough; so much latent creativity but too often not enough guile or composure.
The final shot count may have been impressive, but Hull keeper Allan McGregor was only sporadically pressed into action.
Yet City were rewarded for perseverance in epic fashion. It underlined a level of self-belief totally lacking in the toughest moments of a campaign now gathering sustained momentum.
With the decibel levels at fever pitch, and Farke in orbit, it took you back to Martin Olsson’s stoppage time smack to sink Newcastle United in a breathless Carrow Road encounter in April 2016.
That felt like a pivotal moment against a Premier League relegation rival; it proved a false dawn.
Go back even further to a game that defined Paul Lambert’s era; Simeon Jackson’s seismic slot to beat Derby County on Easter Monday 2011 during a march to Championship promotion.
One sweet signpost, one sour. How the script develops from this point must remain guess work but the underlying traits are encouraging.
Farke is moulding a squad who can resist and emerge from adversity.
They are a long way from the finished article but a fit and firing Oliveira, supported by Jerome, with James Maddison and Alex Pritchard supplying the ammunition, feels like a creative mix to address areas of concern at this still relatively early phase of the cycle.
A measure of the current progress is surely the fact City head to their bitter rivals a point clear in the standings, after Town’s blistering start to the new campaign contrasted sharply with Norwich’s struggles for consistency and a clear sense of purpose. Farke has harnessed both.
This Sunday’s latest renewal in Suffolk is not simply about prolonging an unbeaten run against the Blues, that stretches back to 2009, it is fresh confirmation the infectious German and his players are on the right path.
Team spirit and a deep well of camaraderie are forged in comebacks like the one engineered against Hull City.
Such fuel can propel a group of young men a long distance, far beyond the scope of what those outside the camp may feel is possible this season.
The clear sense in this recent, abrupt upturn is of a squad who are positively relishing the challenge. In the toughest moments they appear to grow as a unit. The attacking embellishments you feel will come; the goals, the control of games and a sharper efficiency to their forward work.
Farke is putting the foundations in place and City look a radically better outfit for his measured surgery since defeats at Aston Villa or Millwall.
How quickly they accelerate from here holds the key to which fork in the road they travel over the defining months of this season.