Ian Clarke: This Norwich City squad has the character to bounce back from setbacks
PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:37 29 August 2019
We all knew this season would throw up plenty of big challenges for City.
Even before a ball was kicked, merely being able to compete in the Premier League was going to be formidable.
Seeing £1.4bn spent across the top flight during the transfer window while the Canaries shelled out around £1m gave ammunition to the scoffers and didn't make the task any easier.
Giving away an own goal at Anfield almost as soon as the pre-match rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone had finished was less than ideal.
Being four down at the home of the European Champions by cup of tea time made the opening night in the Premier League infinitely harder than we'd imagined.
Going one down to the Europa Cup winners within a couple of minutes on Saturday was another huge hurdle to climb.
Following all of the scenarios I've outlined, Daniel Farke and his men have shown huge character, fortitude and courage.
The unswerving determination to continue to play the high tempo, attacking football which saw us win the Championship title at a canter last season is so admirable.
The decision from Stuart Webber and Farke to broadly stick with the squad which was so successful in gaining promotion is equally to be applauded, especially when there was so much pressure to spend - and spend big.
In the Liverpool and Chelsea games when the going got tough, there was no panic or sudden change of tactics.
The players dug in and stuck to their plans.
While both matches ended in defeats, the fans recognised the bravery mixed with terrific football they had witnessed and saluted the team accordingly.
What none of us had bargained for was the big problems which the Carabao Cup second round tie at League Two Crawley would throw up.
I can't be alone in thinking it would be a relatively comfortable win and a chance for the fringe lads to prove what they can do. It would add to the huge positivity and confidence around the club plus give Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann vital minutes on the pitch as they recover from injuries.
How wrong we were.
In isolation, being knocked out of the league cup is not a season changing disaster.
As much as City fans love a cup run, we have been used to exits.
Farke has certainly been more successful than some of his predecessors but getting to the real business end of knock-out tournaments remains illusive.
It was the manner of defeat and the inability of players to shine which was disappointing.
The real hammer blow was the news that Klose is probably out for the whole campaign.
While there has been concern about the goals City have shipped in the opening three matches, the prospect of Klose returning to action has been a real fillip for fans.
The sight of Zimbo leaving the pitch as well really put hearts in mouths - but all being well the prospects are much brighter for him.
The crucial thing for the Canaries now is that they put these setbacks behind them and get stuck in to West Ham this weekend.
Last season the league cup win at Cardiff was a key turning point in Norwich's fortunes.
The loss at Crawley simply mustn't have the same effect in reverse. And I don't think it will.
Get the first choice team back together and carry on playing as they have done and there's no reason we can't carry on living the dream.
Teemu Pukki is on fire - and is so key.
The last time a City team failed to score before Tuesday night was in the FA Cup loss to Portsmouth in January - 24 games ago. That was the last time Pukki wasn't in the starting XI.
Yes, it really is a case of no Pukki, no party.
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There are lots of positives we can dwell on as well as Pukki's form.
Todd "Dereham Deco" Cantwell is looking every bit a Premier League player.
If we're revelling in being at football's top table, imagine what's going through his mind.
In a week when there's been so much talk about a bloke called Ben and his exploits, I have to highlight our very own Ben-sational player.
Godfrey was my man of the match on Saturday and if we keep him, he'll be our captain one day.
On the way out of Carrow Road, a mate of mine said Godfrey will play for England this season.
That's probably a bit optimistic - but I definitely agree international honours will come his way.
Right, let's get back on it.OTBC
Krul is proving his class
I'll admit I haven't always been Tim Krul's number one fan.
Over the years we have had some fantastic keepers at our club.
Kevin Keelan is my all-time hero between the sticks.
Chris Woods, Bryan Gunn, John Ruddy, Rob Green...I could go on with other tremendous custodians.
So, whoever comes in to don the gloves will always have a hard act to follow.
Krul will be the first to admit he made some errors in the early days last season.
But let's remember he played every minute of the Championship-winning season and by all accounts was as big an influence off the pitch as he was on it.
He seems a brilliant guy and his character, experience and influence are invaluable.
We will have plenty of tough periods this season when blokes like Krul will be crucial to pull the young lads through.
He seems increasingly commanding to me and that one-handed save from an Andreas Chistensen shows just what he can do.
I just don't get VAR
I thought VAR was brought in to correct clear and obvious mistakes by refs and linesmen.
In principle I'm fine with that.
It it wipes out Maradona "hand of God" goals, then great.
If it over-rules penalties like the one given against Trevor Putney at Goodison in November 1988 when he clearly slid the ball away from Ian Snodin, then I'm all for it,
If it allows perfectly good goals like Cameron Jerome's against Palace in 2015 to stand, then bring it on,
But to me that's not what's happening.
Blokes watching TV screens miles away in a technology bunker are spotting things like a tiny brush of the ball on the arm or part of a body being inches offside and changing the course of matches - and potentially seasons - when there's absolutely no need to do it.
I really can't see why someone with a quick replay facility can't be in contact with the ref for the real howlers but otherwise leave the game alone.