Canaries are giving fans every right to live the dream
PUBLISHED: 13:31 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:31 16 November 2018
I think that we’re all rapidly running out of superlatives for Daniel Farke and his remarkable squad of players.
At virtually no point last Saturday did they reach the heights of the previous week and concede two pretty awful goals that were reminiscent of last season’s defensive uncertainty, and yet I know that I wasn’t the only person in the stadium who believed that they would ultimately win the game.
Judging by the usual exodus of people who seem to always have some urgent business elsewhere at quarter to five every Saturday that trumps trying to help their team over the line in a close game there were many who didn’t, but, just as in the Paul Lambert era, this team never gives up.
While Neil Harris was quick to point out that the winner came in the seventh minute of injury time after the fourth official had indicated six, he might like to refer back to an incident just before the goal when Emi Buendia, having conceded a goal kick, had placed the ball in Millwall’s six-yard box only for Jake Cooper to slowly dribble it out of the penalty area while the referee’s attention was elsewhere. Sometimes you reap what you sew.
In fairness to Harris, he showed rather more grace in defeat than some managers, and Millwall caused City’s back four significantly more problems than more cultured teams that they’ve played, whilst being predictably obdurate in defence. They’re not pretty to watch, but they make the most of their limited resources.
What they did do more effectively than most recent opponents was to disrupt City’s midfield rhythm. Despite being selected by the sponsors as man of the match I thought that Millwall were the first team in weeks to ruffle Mo Leitner’s usual calm control of the middle of the park, but the beauty of City’s German maestro is that a relatively sub-par performance for him is still pretty good by the standards of mere mortals, and his strike for City’s second was of the highest quality.
I said last week that the big dilemma for City’s opponents this season is the number of threats that they have to neutralise and so it proved again on Saturday. The excellent Buendia’s late move into the centre proved pivotal as his needle threading pass picked out Jordan Rhodes for the equaliser and then Mario Vrancic, having put his first two passes into touch, produced an absolute gem to set up Teemu Pukki for the winner. Cue mayhem in Carrow Road.
Belief runs through this squad like a raging torrent, and that was perhaps best exemplified by the reaction of Rhodes to his equaliser. For many teams to have scrambled a draw in injury time would have been enough, but Rhodes eschewed any lavish celebration in favour of grabbing the ball and racing back to the halfway line in readiness for another assault on the Millwall goal.
There are 29 games to go and plenty of things can go wrong, but anyone who doesn’t believe that City are top of the league on merit is grossly mistaken. Whether or not people think that they’re over-achieving, they are now producing the goods week in and week out, so why shouldn’t we start to dream?
We endured some turgid football last season, but what we’re seeing now is making it all worthwhile. The belief that the players have in the system and their confidence in sticking to their passing game to the last kick rather than simply “chucking it in the mixer” is refreshing to see and is earning more and more plaudits for Farke and Stuart Webber, although increasing interest from bigger clubs will be an inevitable consequence of that.
Oh, and have you noticed how no one mentions the pink away dressing room, the source of so much early season hilarity for visiting teams and the national media, anymore?