Matt Howman: City showing all the qualities of a champion
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Ten points clear, 10 games left to play. It’s an excellent position City have earned for themselves over these past eight fixtures.
Just a few weeks ago after the Swansea defeat, the teams at the top bunched together and there was a big chance that Norwich could have been dragged into a close battle for the automatic promotion spots.
However, just a month on, Farke has continued to work his magic and has overseen a superb run of results that has put us firmly in the driving seat for another Championship title.
The 10 games and 30 points to play for still offer plenty of challenges and hurdles to overcome, but our ability to consistently grind out results is the mark of a title-winning side and it would take a massive collapse in confidence to not see this over the line.
Sunday’s match against Sheffield Wednesday was not a performance that will stick long in the memory, but it was a great example of that ability to find a way of getting a result, despite not being 100 percent at the races and second-best for a large portion of the first half.
Defensively we were sloppy on numerous occasions, we gave the ball away too often in the first half and in those first 45 minutes, Wednesday were arguably the better side and were good value for their slender lead.
However, the sign of a good team, a title-winning team, is being able to find a way to win despite not being in total control of the game.
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Sheffield Wednesday were a well organised side under Darren Moore - they certainly did not look like a team languishing near the foot of the table. Their midfield was quick to close down Buendia and Cantwell throughout the game, and once they got the early goal the team were then able to drop deep and concentrated on cutting off our passing lanes through midfield.
A number of our players also found also themselves on the end of heavy challenges. It was a tough afternoon for the likes of Todd Cantwell, Lukas Rupp and Emi Buendia who were all on the receiving end of some nasty kicks; it looked in the second half especially that the Wednesday players were looking to bait a reaction out of Buendia, a tactic he will likely see a few more times before the season is done.
Thankfully, City’s quality shone through in the second half. Daniel Farke’s tactical approach has consistently reaped rewards in this division and Sunday was no exception.
It can be slightly frustrating at times to see Norwich play with a consistent tempo in spells during a game where it would seem more effective to bomb forward on the counter attack and look to catch teams out, especially if we fall a goal behind.
However, his method of consistency, possession and incisive passing breaks teams down eventually - and when you have Teemu Pukki up front working his socks off and waiting to dispatch a quality through ball, more often than not you’ll get your reward.
Farke came out after the game and commented that it was the “best win of the season”. It was on many fronts, including demonstrating the resoluteness of the team and the importance of maintaining the points gap on the table. But even more so, it was another underlining example of how well-coached Farke has this Norwich side.
I’m as guilty as the next fan of sitting in the chair, watching the game on the TV and saying he should be making subs and changing our gameplan, but I think his 12+ years of managerial experience and overall tactical nous holds a little more weight!
The level of consistency, the detail in his tactical planning and the nucleus of his philosophy that’s evident in every performance has been arguably the best quality football Norwich have ever played. It looks as though he will get another crack at the Premier League and I have all the faith he can make the second attempt a success.