David Freezer: Epic night of Carrow Road glory tells me City are into something good
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
We were all hoping to see something special at Carrow Road and Norwich City delivered the goods in style, despite the undoubted nerves fans were desperately trying to keep at bay.
We were all hoping to see something special at Carrow Road and City delivered the goods in style, despite the undoubted nerves fans were desperately trying to keep at bay.
To deliver such an excellent performance, despite being under so much pressure, was quite remarkable and a testament to the preparation skills of Daniel Farke and his back-room team.
For the Canaries players to walk out in front of a crowd throbbing with anticipation, amid flames shooting from pitchside and the swell of dramatic music on their day of destiny – just days after looking crestfallen at the final whistle at Stoke – and execute victory so deservedly spoke volumes for their mental strength and concentration.
Knowing that Carrow Road had only witnessed promotion being sealed once in 84 years of football at the stadium must have added more pressure, knowing the desperation to have a party on home soil was palpable.
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Yet Farke’s team went out and totally dominated a Blackburn team which went into the game filled with the confidence of four wins on the spin – and really should have won the game much more convincingly.
Such nights are characterised by big moments though, the spark which ignites memories which will live for generations and be spoken of long after the current players have hung up their boots.
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Marco Stiepermann had played a major role in calming the nerves, with an unerring finish with that trusty left boot which has helped the German rack up 10 goals during a season which has changed the course of his career totally.
It is Mario Vrancic who we’ll be telling our grandchildren about in years to come though – and the yellow and green top-bins seeking missile that he unleashed.
From our position in the press box I was fortunate enough to have an absolutely perfect view, sat towards the back of the City Stand. As soon as the Rovers players backed off and gave the in-form Vrancic some space to stride into, you could sense what he was about to attempt. The execution was immaculate.
Just like that heroic free-kick which salvaged a draw against Sheffield Wednesday the previous weekend, the midfielder proved he’s a man who enjoys the spotlight, just as he did with that hugely important brace at Leeds in February.
Striking with the outside of his wand-like left foot, the ball bent away into the top-left corner from 25 yards and sparked raucous celebrations inside Carrow Road as the promised land moved within touching distance.
There was a slight problem though, of course. Amid the frantic excitement, Blackburn awoke from their slumber and Lewis Travis kept the hosts honest as he reduced the arrears within two minutes.
That’s clearly an issue for Farke’s ‘to do list’ for the summer, as it’s the seventh time City have conceded within five minutes of scoring this season, during the last 30 matches to be more precise – five of them during home games.
Given the importance of the occasion, it can be forgiven, but that goal really shouldn’t have created as many nerves as it did during the second half.
Teemu Pukki and Marco Stiepermann were both thwarted by good saves before the break, as were Emi Buendia’s sumptuous bicycle kick and a low Stiepermann blast after it, with the crossbar denying a scintillating but profligate Onel Hernandez performance.
In the end, the players had to see out the game carefully as fans partied around them, before the sweet release of that final whistle which finally threw off the shackles and allowed City supporters to celebrate like it was 1960.
That was the last time Carrow Road had witnessed promotion – 59 years ago to the day, remarkably – thanks to a Vrancic goal for the ages which will be worth at least £150million, even if Norwich come straight back down.
Playing this brand of swashbuckling football, I’ve already got hope that survival will be possible in the Premier League, but it’s sure to be another roller-coaster ride.
From Farke’s future being in doubt in September, to spending two-thirds of the season in the top two and heart-warming celebrations as an epic season draws to a close.
Just one thing left now: the title, once the players have sobered up. Something tells me they’re into something good...