Robin Sainty: Norwich City's secret is out – Carrow Road is becoming a fortress
PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 November 2018
You realise that you must have somehow failed as a parent when your son announces that he is going to get married during the football season.
Of course, even I put my family before Norwich City, but I have to admit that I found it hard not to think about events in Sheffield as the ceremony started with the game locked at 0-0 and City having spurned yet another penalty.
Hoping that my City cufflinks would do their job, I got on with enjoying the wedding and hoping for the best at Hillsborough, only to find that when I was finally able to check the result the Canaries had finally done what they have been threatening for a while and given an opponent a good hiding.
Once I’d had the chance to catch up with the extended highlights I would be the first to admit that some of Sheffield Wednesday’s defending was pretty shambolic, but City’s passing game is currently an absolute joy to watch and their third goal is another for the highlights reel.
It’s description on the BBC website as “a tap-in for Teemu Pukki after Max Aarons’ ball into the box” hardly did justice to the fact that Aarons had sprinted virtually the length of the field and played two exquisite one-twos before putting the ball on a plate for his team-mate. Had that goal been produced by “Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds” or “Frank Lampard’s Derby” I suspect that Sky would probably devote a whole programme to it.
Sadly, though, City’s days of staying under the radar may be coming to an end as the national media finally wake up to what is going on at Carrow Road, and Daniel Farke and his players will now be faced with a new set of challenges as they become regarded as favourites rather than underdogs in most games.
Throughout the Championship, managers and coaches will be poring over videotapes trying to find an effective answer to “Farkeball”, which entered the football argot thanks to Proud Canaries’ Di Cunningham’s appearance on Sky’s Championship goals show on Saturday evening.
Of course, that answer may be hard to find because City currently have so many different weapons. From their attacking full-backs, through the slide rule passing of Mo Leitner and Mario Vrancic to the trickery of Emi Buendia and Onel Hernandez and the lethal finishing of Teemu Pukki, there are an awful lot of threats to neutralize.
Last season it was simple enough: stop James Maddison and you invariably stopped Norwich, but this year it’s considerably more complicated and to an extent that’s down to another key point; there are no egos in this team.
Yes, Leitner might have once been considered the next big thing in German football, and Pukki, Timm Klose and Alex Tettey might have well over 100 international caps between them, but this is a group of players who manifestly revel in each other’s successes, something that can be seen in every huddle and goal celebration.
Farke will ultimately be judged by his achievements on the pitch, but what he and Stuart Webber have managed off it should not be overlooked. It’s almost impossible to imagine one of the current squad producing the sort of public display of petulance produced by Nelson Oliveira at Craven Cottage in the first game of last season.
Contrast that reaction with the way in which Jordan Rhodes handled himself while on the bench, and the obvious pleasure that he and Pukki take in each other doing well. In the trench warfare of the Championship you have to be confident that people have got your back and that seems to be the case at City now.
Today will be tough against a Millwall side who epitomize the principle of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, but Carrow Road is starting to become a fortress again.