Connor Southwell: City chief has set a new challenge for the Carrow Road faithful
- Credit: PA
This Norwich City squad has constructed memories to last a lifetime, from winning the Championship title to beating the English champions.
All of that success has arrived against a backdrop of apprehension given the yellow brick road designed to lead the Canaries to the big time initially appeared misty.
Last season's Championship voyage, ending in a parade around the city centre, feels like light years ago amid the ever dawning realities of top-flight football.
With this sport, time moves at a rate of knots that is difficult to maintain pace with. The scale of the challenge posed this campaign has been compared to that of scaling Everest, with every marginal gain having to be maximised to ensure survival.
Coinciding with the evolution of structural operations at City has been the injection of energy, colour and noise overseen by the fan groups Along Come Norwich and Barclay End Norwich.
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On a match day, the players' arrival onto the pitch is greeted with hundreds of colourful flags that sees one stand being submerged in the colours of the football club.
It's not merely visually, but chants have contained more gusto, togetherness is palpable throughout the stadium, and the decibel level has risen dramatically.
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Anybody inside Carrow Road or within the surrounding areas will have experienced the pandemonium that was unleashed throughout that Manchester City triumph. It was the pinnacle for everyone involved with the club.
The summit had been reached. The squad had surpassed expectations amid their biggest crisis. Supporters were on their feet after every clearance or sliding tackle.
For the purists, it was football heaven.
It was a cacophony of noise that escaped through the roof of Carrow Road and danced its way through the streets of Norwich. David had risen to conquer Goliath once more.
As the conquerors took their applause from their loving supporters, many questioned if this level of noise could ever be repeated. Impacting football matches is a feat many players struggle to achieve, but from the terraces, it seems impossible.
Without striking a ball with venom into the top corner or winning that goal-saving tackle, it's simple to feel distanced and helpless from your seat.
Those flags aren't merely a performance of colour but an act of togetherness. Those chants aren't just melody to complement proceedings on the pitch, it's about creating an identity.
Constructing an atmosphere isn't about gimmicks but is a necessary injection of energy. Given the injury crisis that continues to hamper Daniel Farke's options on the field, City needs to squeeze every percentage they can from other areas.
That Manchester City fixture confirmed it; supporters can have a profound impact, one that stretches beyond the block of concrete they inhabit during matches.
The raucous nature of that crowd was unforgettable; it acted as a platform to elevate the performances of those donning yellow and green whilst stifling that of their opponents.
Anyone present at the Aston Villa mauling will have felt deflated at the atmosphere that followed that infamous victory.
Admittedly, the manner in which the on-field events transpired created a downbeat, empty feeling inside the home terraces but even prior to that Carrow Road felt like it was experiencing a hangover.
Resignation was in the air. A consensus that the odds were stacked too high, that even this side couldn't conquer this challenge.
Stuart Webber has laid down the gauntlet to supporters in a recent interview, stating the creation of an intense atmosphere will be required to help City amass the points needed to retain their Premier League status.
Along Come Norwich have been major protagonists in galvanising supporters around the stadium, with co-founder Jon Punt agreeing with Webber's remarks.
"So much work has gone on over the last 18 months to get us to a place where supporters can feel like they're actually making a real difference to events on the pitch, but culturally there is still more to do.
"It would be difficult to replicate the atmosphere levels of the Manchester City game week in, week out, but that has to be the aspiration."
Punt continued: "In a league where marginal gains will be even more important than last season, if fans can give the players that extra five per cent they need to go on and get results then we all benefit, together."