It’s starting to feel a bit like 2011 for Norwich City...and that can only be a good thing
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Rewind seven years and Paul Lambert’s swashbuckling side were off to a somewhat stuttering start in their quest to consolidate in the Championship after cantering to the League One title.
Expectations were relatively low for a team which was full of heart rate and desire but possibly low on the required quality, with many both in and outside of Norfolk believing a top half finish would be seen as a successful campaign.
The rest is history.
Lambert’s charges swept into the automatic promotion places on a sea of positivity, a never-say-die attitude and a glut of glorious last gasp goals.
The moment Nelson Oliveira connected with strike partner Jerome’s flick-on all the familiar feelings of the Lambert era came flooding back.
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Nothing will ever top Simeon Jackson’s Derby strike deep into injury time, made altogether better every time you view it due in no small part to Chris Goreham’s chaotically brilliant commentary, but this equaliser was reminiscent of many of the last minute specials which made 2010-11 so mind-bendingly wonderful.
The scenes around Carrow Road couldn’t fail to put a smile on the face of even the most negative of Canary supporters.
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Daniel Farke bounding onto the pitch in unbridled delight, Oliveira and Maddison letting out primal roars in each other’s direction before embracing and Marco Stiepermann nearly going into full Jan Zelezny mode with the corner flag before thinking better of it.
As much as Oliveira’s instinctive flick only yielded a point, the fact City’s performance deserved more and the timing of the goal ensured the feel good factor is still alive and kicking going into Sunday’s East Anglian Derby.
The team’s attitude in the minutes preceding the goal was also telling.
Players remained patient, ignoring the crowd’s desperate cries to shoot or cross when a genuine opening didn’t exist. Again, just like Lambert’s side led ably by Grant Holt, there seemed to be a real belief on the pitch that the goal would come and in Lord Nelson the Yellow Army have a striker whose talismanic qualities are growing with every minute he plays.
Farke’s squad are starting to gather the kind of momentum which might just see them go close to replicating Lambert’s squad’s achievements.
Yes, that’s a bold statement after being held at home to a side currently sat 15th in the table, but the togetherness currently being fostered at Colney is becoming infectious. This is coupled with the fact Farke places huge importance on fitness levels, something so ably drilled into the 2010-11 team by Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa. The current head coach was at pains to point out City boast the best scoring record of the division during the last 15 minutes of play, testament to the gruelling double sessions endured over the summer.
Just like under the Scot, there will continue to be bumps, and at times massive potholes in the road.
During 2010-11 lowly Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers embarrassed Norwich, yet it was the manner in which the team reacted to those setbacks which ultimately saw them sail through the division and onto the Premier League.
That side didn’t lose consecutive league games throughout the campaign. When they were beaten, the likes of Holt, Martin, Ward or Hoolahan picked up their colleagues and they regrouped.
This is the challenge that lies ahead for City’s current management team and dressing room leaders. When Norwich inevitably slip to defeat some time in the not so distant future (AFTER Sunday please), this new found unity, which is so easy to display when things are going well, will be put properly to the test.
Based on the thorough examinations Daniel Farke has faced thus far, and his flexibility in tweaking his philosophy to suit the rigours of English football, there is genuine hope he’ll be able to regalvanise his troops and ensure they’re ready to enjoy many more late, late shows in the weeks and months to come. Never mind the danger.