Ian Clarke: Late is great - but come on City, get going earlier
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
I wonder how many of the Carrow Road regulars who always leave games early are still switching off the iFollow coverage or turning off the Twitter feeds from the games on 85 minutes?
If you analysed all the words used about Norwich City so far this season, I’m sure “late” would be one of the most common to crop up.
The excellent account NCFC Numbers tweeted out after the Brentford draw, that if games finished after 80 minutes, City would be 20th with just five points and no wins.
I know the whole argument about “if” - but there’s undoubtedly growing evidence that Daniel Farke’s teams specialise in doing thing late on at this level.
Adam Idah’s winner at Huddersfield on the opening day of the season came after 80 minutes, and is positively early compared to the other goals which have secured wins or draws this campaign so far.
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Przemys?aw P?acheta levelled against Preston on 85 minutes, Jordan Hugill grabbed a clincher at Rotherham on 95 mins, Mario Vrancic was match winner against Birmingham and Wycombe on 87 and 91 mins respectively, before Kenny McLean did the business courtesy of a deflection on 87 on Tuesday.
That’s a pretty extraordinary run of late goals so early into the campaign.
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Such a trend was sadly missing in the failed Premier League season, which may in part be why we slipped away so sadly.
Of course, two years ago, Farke’s men made a habit of doing it.
From Onel Hernandez’s double to grab an opening day draw at Birmingham, to those crazy late, late, late shows against Millwall (Jordan Rhodes 92, Teemu Pukki 97), Nottingham Forest (Vrancic 77, Hernandez 94 and 98) and Sheffield Wednesday (Vranic 97), so many points were gained when all seemed lost.
From a very quick bit of maths, I reckon at least 20 points were picked up after 80 minutes. That was obviously the key to such a storming surge to the top.
So late is great, I think we all agree on that.
Sadly we’re all missing out on the drama and excitement of being in the grounds when those incredible moments happen.
I’m sure we’ll never forget the scenes from those games in the 2018/19 season I mentioned above.
So how have you celebrated the dramatic goals so far this campaign?
My fellow River End upper tier season ticket holders may be sad to hear that I’m not jumping on my seat as I would at Carra.
A fist pump and a “yessssss” being yelled out are generally how I react.
So of the nine goals City have netted in the league so far, only two have been in the first half (Pukki against Preston and Wycombe) and only one other went in before the 80th minute (the own goal at Rotherham).
Does it matter when the goals are bagged?
Surely it’s positive that we seem to be getting stronger as games go on and other teams tire?
In simple terms, the answers are no and yes to those questions.
A goal is a goal whether it’s in the first minute or the 98th.
And it’s definitely better to improve in a match rather than tail off.
Also the success of Farke’s substitutions has definitely been very welcome.
Having 14 points from eight games, with 10 in the last four, has to be seen as a positive start to the campaign.
Reading have stormed ahead but no-one else has grabbed the league by the scruff of the neck and the Canaries are just stopping that Wayne Rooney free kick flying into the top corner from being joint second.
If the boys can carry on the momentum at Bristol City, and then at home to Millwall and Swansea, we’ll be in very decent shape heading in to the next international break.
That trio of games will certainly be a good test of how strong City are this term.
All three are in the top eight and have only lost one game each so far.
My concern is that Norwich can’t go on forever relying on late shows.
There will be games - particularly against the better sides - where we’ll pay the price for sloppiness earlier on.
Brentford could quite easily have killed the game off on Tuesday, but for some Tim Krul heroics.
So let’s be greedy.
Let’s continue to revel in the late dramas but get going earlier in matches so at times we can relax a bit more in the closing stages.
As debuts go, Jacob Sorensen’s was pretty eventful.
Apparently he was only told he was starting in Tuesday night’s match at Brentford about four minutes before kick-off.
The lad had never played left-back before, is right-footed and it was the first time he’d not only played for Norwich but it was his first action in England.
I thought he had a decent game - but with all of those factors to be taken into consideration, he deserves massive credit.
You can only imagine how his heart was pumping and I’m chuffed for him that he rose to the occasion.
It’s an evening he will certainly not forget in a hurry!
I’m sure that he won’t be the natural replacement in that position and if Quintilla’s injury keeps him out, then I’d expect a rejig of personnel.
But to have a player who is adaptable to fill in and not be out of place against one of the Championship’s best teams, is a boost for the squad.
Top man Tim
What more can be said about Tim Krul?
The hugely likeable Dutch stopper was the runaway player of the season last term and I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have voted for him.
I really hope he doesn’t retain the award this campaign - mainly because it would suggest he’s been worked hard, which we don’t want in the Championship.
Even though we’re all hoping players further up the pitch will be those to really shine, Tim remains a massively important part of our squad.
He made two fantastic and ultimately crucial saves at Brentford, which kept us in the game and ensured the Mayor’s goal meant a point.
The draw may end up being important in stats terms but the importance of remaining unbeaten is huge.
His shot stopping abilities are unquestionable as is the influence he clearly has on those around him.
He’s certainly becoming one of the great City great keepers.