Connor Southwell: City found a way. Good teams always find a way
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Substance over style was the approach at the New York Stadium - Norwich City engaged in an arm wrestle and came out the victor despite being put constantly under strain by the Millers.
There is a noticable difference between performances, process and results. Sometimes they can conflict each other - that’s the beauty of football and underpins why the sport is adored by so many.
A vintage display this wasn’t, yet City found themselves waltzing out of Yorkshire having grabbed three points from a game that exposed their flaws once again.
It’s to be expected that the Canaries aren’t a cohesive, slick outfit and after everything that Daniel Farke and his squad have had to contend with you can forgive that at this embryonic stage of the season.
Reality is a harsher lens than the one dreams are seen through - after the debilitating end to last season - there was going to be a brittleness about their approach in the early stages.
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No team operating at present is doing so in top gear, the complexities of Farke’s philosophy demands time, but against a backdrop of expectation, anything even marginally below that level leaves City to be shot at. Especially given the leeway they were provided with last season.
This was another sobering example. You could have forgiven supporters for thinking they were watching highlights of City’s games in Project Restart when Freddie Ladapo seized upon a loose ball after some questionable defending from their side.
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Grant Hanley has taken the brunt of the criticism for that particular episode but his performance improved drastically thereafter.
The defender is one that Farke has been described as being thrown into cold water - but the same could be levelled at the whole City set-up at present.
They are treading a lot of water. They are still porous defensively and stodgy in offensive situations - but there is plenty of potential to extract providing they can continue to build.
Comparisons of two years ago cannot be made. This is, bar a few old favourites, a brand new cast. The director may be the same - but experiences have moulded his outlook considerably.
When Farke first arrived at the club - City were a slick, possession-based outfit with technicians at the heart of everything. There was no expectation - it was an experiment.
Fast-forward two years and the scarring from the Premier League is still visible.
There is confusion still. City did lack a clarity over their attacking play in the first period. There has been a shift away from the pure possession approach that everyone following the club has become accustomned to.
That isn’t a shock when you consider the difficulties they encountered last season. That was always going to change the outlook of a coach who experienced the harsh lessons offered by the top-flight.
Performances aren’t matching results. Against Derby, City were considerably better. Their patterns of play were more reminisicent of the eras gone by and week by week they were seeing improvements.
City are there to be shot at. And boy, are people shooting. All they do is absorb the bullets and continue to ride the storm - because their success this season will depend on it.
This encounter with the Millers exposed their quality - the slick passing move that led to Michael Ihiekwe turning the ball into his own net offered a window into what tangible improvement looks like.
Then Emi Buendia’s cute touch to draw a foul for Florian Jozefzoon showed what City possess in their ranks. Now it’s about extracting it on a regular basis.
Despite the defensive and offensive questions that require answers in the weeks to come. City found a way. Good teams always find a way. For all the criticism that can be placed at their door - they showed endeavour to come from behind to claim victory.
Now they need to prove it isn’t just paper that has been placed over the cracks but plaster.
That could prove to be the dose of confidence they need. But any discussion about this victory being a turning point will need to be placed on ice until they emerge from the Bristol City game in two weeks time.
Project Restart wasn’t a period to remember for City fans - but they will be hoping this fixture is the restart of their season.
The next few weeks will dictate whether or not that is the case - but now City need to marry up performances with results.