Terri Westgate: ‘The most astonishing thing about the result was the clean sheet’
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
If there is one thing that Norwich City are renowned for under Herr Farke, it is goals.
Be it the humiliating defeats away in his first season, to the dramatic last-minute winners in his second, he is a man who has brought us high scoring football.
Last year's Championship winning campaign was a goal-feast with a massive 150 goals featuring just in the league matches, and with Temmu Pukki racking up 30 on his own. There was just the one, solitary 0-0 scoreline as we stormed up the table to take the title. It came at a very wet and horrible night in Hull, when everyone was glad to get away with a point and forget all about the match.
Norwich certainly aren't a team in recent years that plays for a draw, with the exception of Chris Houghton's last days, as he attempted to preserve our Premier League status. And those weren't thrilling, edge-of-your-seat outings, but more like the games where you turn to your neighbours to open up discussions about past players and footballing memories whilst you wait for something exciting to happen on the pitch.
So on Saturday, after an 11-month wait we had a goalless draw down on the south coast against Bournemouth. Unable to make the game, I was at home listening to the Radio Norfolk commentary as I attempted to catch up on household chores. But this wasn't a game that you could passively absorb as you went about your business, and Chris Goreham had me nervously perched by the radio throughout the second half.
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Of course, the most astonishing thing about the result was the clean sheet. We didn't have a centre back on the pitch at the final whistle. Instead, two midfielders were holding the line, after our one remaining fit centre half had to leave the field early. That's what makes this particular result so important. After three defeats on the bounce, and with all four of our centre backs crocked by the second half, Norwich managed to secure such a vital point away from home.
This year points will be hard to come by and therefore every one of them is precious. The start of the season was always going to be difficult, but with the unprecedented injury crisis that developed it looked almost impossible. Yet our head coach stuck to his principles and inspired belief in the remnants of the squad to deliver a win against Manchester City. We struggled in the following matches, but now players are beginning to return from the physio's care, and there is hope and belief that we can get the results we need to survive for a second season in the top flight.
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However, the centre of defence is still a major cause for concern. Ibrahim Amadou and Alex Tettey were warriors at the weekend to keep Bournemouth out, but with Ben Godfrey the only one likely to return for at least a month, that position continues to look threadbare. If Tom Trybull can stay fit, we may be able to spare Tettey from his important role as holding midfielder. But is it fair to expect him and Amadou to play out of position week in and week out against some of the best forwards in the world?
Maybe it's time for new heroes and Akin Famewo to get his debut, if Farke thinks he is ready. Jamal Lewis can apparently do a job in the middle, but as our most consistent performer this season, we'd miss his pace and ability to tear down the left.
With all this defensive turmoil that scoreline at the Vitality Stadium is something to applaud. And until we see the return of Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley and Timm Klose every match will be a hard-fought scrap. The team unity forged in the Championship should carry us through and Saturday has shown that our players certainly have the heart for the fight ahead.