Paddy’s PROMOTION Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-1 Championship win against Blackburn Rovers
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his Blackburn Rovers verdict after the Canaries’ promotion-clinching 2-1 Championship win
What a way to seal Norwich City’s place in the Premier League. The Canaries should have won by a far more handsome margin, such was their dominance.
But the control and the game management in the final quarter was as impressive as the manner they sliced through almost at will. Blackburn stuck to their task. There was the odd scare along the way.
But the epic celebrations at the final whistle were a sight to behold. Norwich might have edged nervously to the finish line in recent games. This was a command performance. A night when they played a game of football, not the mammoth occasion. Another sign of the maturity Daniel Farke has moulded from a group of young men who defied the odds and every pre-season prediction. The first Carrow Road clinching promotion since this date in 1960. Historic. Special.
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2. Top drawer Teemu
Pukki clearly had the heads up he was on for the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy, as he loitered in the shadow of the presentation party, headed by the club’s majority shareholders, when Emi Buendia and Christoph Zimmermann accepted their awards.
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The Finn’s personal goal stats in his first season for the club are extraordinary. They will stand the testament of time. Long after Pukki retires he will be remembered in these parts for a special body of work.
The Championship player-of-the-season and now newly-crowned City player-of-the-year is not just a supremely gifted finisher. He is also a selfless character who has lifted this group of players to staggering heights.
Much more than the goals, important as they have been, is the man’s work ethic and his willingness to set the tone for other team mates.
Two minutes into this game, he made a 15 yard burst across the Rovers’ penalty box to force a Blackburn defender into a rushed clearance that earned Norwich a throw. Such interventions never earn the same acclaim as headline-grabbing goalscoring displays, but they are what has set Pukki apart.
3. ‘Ave it
Farke joked not all that long ago every goal Norwich scored this season of seasons was his goal-of-the-season. But Mario Vrancic’s first half stunner against Blackburn must make a late dash for the finish line.
The Bosnian turned, opened his body and smacked a ball with ferocious power and balletic grace in one flowing motion.
It pierced the night sky over Carrow Road and beyond a forlorn, full stretch dive from Jayson Leutwiler before coming to rest in the side of his netting, just inside the right hand upright.
It was a stunning intervention. A goal to sit alongside Vrancic’s Good Friday free kick in the 97th minute against Sheffield Wednesday. Or that flowing team move in the home draw with Sheffield United.
That’s before you even apply the context of Onel Hernandez’s stoppage time brace against Nottingham Forest over Christmas, or Pukki against Millwall.
Forget rankings, or lists, just sit back in a quieter moment over this summer and savour a showreel of wonderful goals and spine-tingling memories.
4. Fitting Mr Tettey. Fitting
On a night when the decibel levels rarely dropped below a dull roar, there was one special ovation to greet the arrival of Alex Tettey. The experienced midfielder has had a limited impact on the park over the second part of this campaign.
You can be sure he was a major influence off it, to calm the nerves and keep a squad packed with youngsters and overseas imports on a straight and true course.
Tettey’s contract extension last season felt like a pivotal moment in the evolution of Farke’s revolution. It is a moot point how much we see him from here on in, when the Premier League bandwagon rolls into town.
But just savour a player who has given arguably his best years to the Canaries. Less a stoppage time substitution, more a passing of the baton perhaps between generations.
5. Celebrate. Then one more job to do
Party time in Norwich for the next few days. Fans, players, coaches and everyone connected with Norwich should celebrate in style the most unexpected of promotions. But Sheffield United’s win earlier in the day against Ipswich Town means there is one matter unresolved for those who rally to the green and yellow cause.
The Canaries head to Aston Villa next Sunday three points clear of the Blades. Chris Wilder’s men wrap up at Stoke City.
There is the same sense of momentum propelling the side from South Yorkshire as Farke’s boys. In all probability, Norwich will need a positive result at Villa Park. Dean Smith’s squad have their own agenda.
The small matter of a play-off semi-final tussle against their neighbours West Brom. It promises to be a memorable end to an unforgettable season.