Ian Clarke: Despite the flaws, I’m enjoying being a Norwich City fan again
PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 16 August 2018
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Well, we wanted more entertainment!
Fifteen goals in the first three games (eight of them to City), six different players on the score sheet for Norwich, 20 shots in one match, a plucky comeback at Brum, the emergence of a new fans’ hero and a cup win.
Throw into the mix a very well attended march before the opening home again on Saturday, the enthusiastically noisy singing area on Tuesday plus the prospect of a supporters’ social club forum at Carra on Thursday night.
And we’re only just half way through August!
Of course I know some of you will be yelling at me that we only have one point on the Championship board from two games, with six goals leaked in those matches.
You may also point out that awful clanger from Tim Krul, the terrible penalty from Jordan Rhodes and making a meal of beating League Two Stevenage.
However, for all of the flaws we have seen in the infancy of this campaign, I remain generally positive so far – and am actually enjoying being a Canaries fan again.
Remember the game after game last term when we complained about lack of goals, little tempo and flat atmosphere?
I’ve got a feeling from the opening skirmishes of the 2018/19 season that life is going to be much more lively this time round. There will be plenty more talking points. We’ll have more to get us off our seats (and yes, possibly more to put our heads in our hands).
Before a ball was kicked I predicted Daniel Farke’s men could challenge for the play-offs if everything clicked.
Will my optimism be misplaced? Quite possibly.
Will we have a season to remember, even if we end up playing in the second tier again? I believe we will.
In my four decades of watching the Canaries, the flying wingers who have pace and a fearlessness to take on defenders have been among my favourite players.
Louie Donowa, Disco Dale Gordon, Ruel Fox, Darren Eadie, Darren Huckerby....I could go on,
These guys provided excitement. They made things happen and fans loved them.
Onel Hernandez is giving us a mouth-watering taste that he will do the same.
He took his two goals superbly at Birmingham, turned provider against West Brom and injected some much-needed energy which helped see off Stevenage.
The little Cuban seems to love being here.
His celebrations in front of the travelling fans at St Andrews were priceless.
Onel has been my stand-out performer so far. There’s no surprise that his chant has been one of the most popular on the supporters’ playlist.
I’ve liked the look of Teemu Pukki too. He also has plenty of life about him and is another lad who gets fans excited,
I made it very clear that I was pleased with the signing of Rhodes. It was great to see him get his account up and running after missing out at Birmingham. He surely had sleepless nights after that backpass of a spot kick.
We need to stick with him. The frontman has bags of experience, so let’s hope he puts that behind him and gets the 20 or so goals his past record proves he can get.
The same can be said for Krul.
I can imagine the duo were texting each during the early hours sharing their respective nightmares.
It’s how he responds that matters. Ironic cheers when he catches a ball really don’t help.
Otherwise, I really want to see Jamal Lewis return in the left-back berth. We’ve missed him so far.
Once he is in there with Grant Hanley and Timm Klose, I’ll be happier with our defence.
In terms of right back, I’m not convinced by Ben Marshall in that slot. It needs to be Ivo Pinto or Felix Passlack there for me.
I sense it is going to take a bit of time for Farke to get the right blend in midfield – and it may well be that he chops and changes according to the opposition and whether we are at NR1 or on the road.
Mo Leitner bossed the first half against WBA before they packed the midfield after the break, making it more difficult for him to shine.
He is a key man for me to direct the heart of the team.
I think the days ahead will very much shape how the term will pan out.
Sheffield United is always a tough place to visit before a double header against Alex Neil’s Preston and early pacesetters Leeds.
Oh, and then it’s the first derby of the campaign...
Brilliant to have Holty back
One of the best bits of news for me so far this season was the announcement of a new job at City for Grant Holt.
The legend has initially agreed a part-time academy coaching role.
He will work with the under-23 squad and the lower age groups for one day a week, when schoolboy players are also in on school day release, and continue his work as a commercial ambassador for the club.
What an amazing opportunity for them to learn from a guy who has done more for the club than virtually anyone else in the last decade. Holty was player of the season three times and netted 78 goals in just 168 games in the top three tiers of English football. He was the ultimate talisman and a brilliant example on and off the pitch. The frontman has been there, done it – and has a collection of T-shirts.
Sporting director Stuart Webber got it spot on: “His personality fits in perfectly with the values that we are trying to instil into our young players.”
Mixed news on fringe players
There were mixed fortunes for the lads who were given the chance to impress Daniel Farke against Stevenage.
I felt sorry for Dereham’s very own Todd Cantwell who was played out wide left for the match.
It clearly isn’t his natural position and that showed. I just hope he gets more chances as the season goes on in areas where he can be more effective.
Dennis Srebeny just can’t get going and Tuesday again highlighted why he’s not the answer as a lone striker.
Max Aarons has impressed in the under 23s and he showed glimpses of what he can do.
I feel it’s going to be a huge season for Ben Godfrey and Louis Thompson.
Godfrey got the sponsors’ man of the match award and Thompson worked hard against the visitors who continued to press high.
Plenty of fans are concerned about the real depth in our squad for a long season. Tuesday probably asked more questions on that theme than offering answers.