Matt Howman: The magic cure to Norwich City’s problems has been found
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There’s nothing like a win to change sentiment in football.
It doesn’t matter how slender, how unpolished or how unconvincing, three points for any football club in a poor run of form is a magic cure.
Huddersfield may have been one of last season’s stragglers, finishing just three points above the relegation zone but, considering Norwich were without a league victory since February, the context simply didn’t matter.
It was all about the result. The next two fixtures will be a better measurement of where the squad really is in terms of being a serious contender for promotion, and now the whole squad will be lifted which is a massive boost.
Farke spoke before the season started about the fact the squad had changed considerably from the one which ended last season in such a dreadful fashion, so the losing streak wasn’t a big hurdle to overcome. However, players like Teemu Pukki, Kenny McLean and Ben Godfrey, who featured so prominently in those run of results, will surely have had it lingering over them during the summer break.
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When there is such a large number of players to embed and gel within the squad, winning football matches will make life so much easier for Farke. He will be relying on the core of the squad from last season to set the example from the off, help the new players integrate within his style of football and also make up the spine of the starting eleven.
If that losing hangover was still there after four or five games, it doesn’t matter how much quality flows through the squad, it could have been a seriously difficult rut to get out of.
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Confidence and the winning mentality within a football team is so hard to build, keep and maintain but the difference it makes to individual players is phenomenal. Take Pukki as an example. Pukki with confidence makes surging runs across defenders, finds space, time and has a killer instinct in front of goal.
Without it, he spent the past few months looking completely out of sorts, devoid of that extra yard and lacking that unquantifiable quality that in-form strikers have where they look a danger whenever they get the ball. Without confidence, good players suddenly look very average.
Last season, Norwich as a team with confidence provided us with that “I was there” performance against Man City. Fluid, incisive passing. Composure. Fearlessness.
Then, almost the same squad spent game after game squandering chances, was sloppy in possession, couldn’t attack, press or defend. Devoid of confidence the team that won the Championship at a canter, beat Newcastle so convincingly and pulled off an early season miracle, became the cannon fodder of the division.
And, the problem in football is that the only way to drag yourself out of that nightmare is to score goals and win games. The longer it goes on the issues compound and get worse.
Fortunately for Norwich, we are now back at a level where we can be competitive in every game. That initial win was crucial and hopefully the players from last season can kick on and rediscover their form.
Winning always changes sentiment in an instant. Fans and pundits transition from highlighting the negative qualities of players to singing their praises. Winning inspires more winning and when a squad of players can turn it into a habit, it makes the feel-good factor flow throughout the club and the community.
Can this group of players make winning a habit? On the back of a narrow 0-1 victory over Huddersfield and Emi Buendia, Timm Klose and Sam Byram still to feature after suspension and injuries, on paper the squad suddenly looks revitalized.
Oliver Skipp, Kieran Dowell and Przemyslaw Placheta all look like exciting additions and if the transfer window passes without too many exits, this Norwich squad with confidence could be a strong top six contender.
If City can cobble together another win against former manager Alex Neil, then get a result against Bournemouth, a strong start will get the team believing again.