Renewed optimism, a uniting chorus of ‘On The Ball, City’ after a defeat and a newfound togetherness between supporters and players, the last few weeks have been a joyous period to support Norwich City football club.
Forget results momentarily, performances have been of an impressive standard.
From the manner of which they dismantled a previously unbeaten Middlesbrough side, to the way in which they asserted their philosophy onto proceedings at Loftus Road, Norwich have discovered a continuity and quality which wasn’t evident prior to this run, beyond glimpses.
The general consensus was always that if Norwich could harvest a constant supply line and also discover a methodology that helped to better connect the thirds, whilst reducing the lateral nature of their possession, then upward mobility could be attained.
Not a huge ask, then.
What has been the biggest surprise is how Norwich discovered that formula, and then how quickly they were able to source momentum with it.
Only at the last international break, the mood music was directly contrasting to the one felt by most presently. Pressure on both Daniel Farke and his playing squad were mounting with supporters moods reaching record levels of displeasure and irritability.
Those supporters who were beginning to verbally voice their discontent, most noticeably at Portman Road whereby those frustrations first became audible, have now be arrived back on side with Farke and his men.
In reality, the Norwich board were never going to pull the plug on a coach they have placed such an onus on to navigate the tricky seas of the current financial climate after a few weeks of the season. September did feel significant, if not for Farke’s immediate future then undoubtedly for the perception of him from supporter’s eyes.
No doubt, had they struggled to gain results and improve on the underwhelming football played last season, then those vacating the board room would have been left with a decision to make.
Development of Farke’s philosophy has arrived during a period when he required it most.
Tactical tweaks have drastically enhanced how Norwich operate. Those spells and glimpses of quality displayed in games have been transformed into more prolonged periods throughout Championship fixtures.
Away from home, Norwich attempt to dominate the ball in the same manner that they want to do when playing at Carrow Road.
Upon his arrival, Farke declared he wanted his side to be the ‘protagonists’, yet last season Norwich were restrictive and lacked expression beyond the obvious genius of James Maddison.
Now, Norwich have strayed away from the theoretical football and now operate with more agency and expression. Players who arrived from overseas last campaign are beginning to display their quality after a season of adaptation.
What’s more, Norwich have a unique proposition in their full back areas.
Two academy graduates have grasped the mantle fearlessly, displaying maturity and altering the dynamic of their sides desired philosophy. Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons are both physical specimens. They possess athletic traits that which have made them useful operators both on the ball and off it.
Norwich now have newfound width, Lewis and Aarons positioning is wider and higher on the football pitch when the defensive pairing are in possession. Automatically, this ensures Norwich attempt to play forward through the thirds rather than simply completing safe passes.
Couple this aspect with a balanced midfield unit and Norwich have a spinal unit that is both efficient and self-assured.
The technical quality of Moritz Leitner was visible from when he first appeared on the pitch donning yellow and green. What has proved more of a conundrum is locating a position whereby this technical quality can be extracted fully to influence Norwich for the better.
He is the heartbeat of Norwich’s play when in possession, ensuring the tempo is maintained whilst supplying a range of passing that makes there phases of play multi dimensional and able to pass through the thirds.
Partnered by Alex Tettey, whom has been nothing short of a revelation this season, Norwich have a midfield duo who complement each other wonderfully. Tettey has the defensive nous and positional awareness whilst Leitner possesses the technical quality. Together they create a partnership which has been integral to Norwich’s newfound formula.
Tettey is the lynchpin. Leitner is the metronome.
Sceptics will point towards last September and be keen to illustrate that Norwich put a unbeaten run together also, only for it to be followed with a slump that they wouldn’t recover from.
This time feels different in both mood music but also approach.
Supporters are being entertaining by the football being played currently, Norwich are operating with a swagger and aplomb whilst asserting their own game plan onto opponents as opposed to simply attempting to score a goal and then defend at all costs.
This run has been Norwich’s most progressive under Farke, that rendition of ‘On the Ball, City’, shows how supporters are prepared to back this style and how together this club is at present. The key is in maintaining this positivity and the exceptional level of perform they’ve displayed throughout this spell.
The loss to Stoke City was unjust.
For Norwich to dominate a team full with streetwise Premier League operators displays how they’re improving.
Ultimately, Norwich now sit at a crossroad.
Response to that defeat could prove to be season defining, should Norwich beat a Nottingham Forest outfit currently unbeaten at home and scoring at will, then it will prove they have the capability of potentially achieving something at the start of the season.
Lose at the City Ground though, and a couple of tough fixtures await against an Aston Villa side who will have that new manager bounce and an impressive Brentford side who always prove difficult for Norwich to overcome.
Enjoy this period, City supporters.
Enjoyment in football has returned, and although Norwich may endure a slump, that uniting chorus of the club’s anthem needs to be cherished and built on despite results.
What do you make of Norwich City’s improvements of late? Is this something can be sustained? Get in touch on Twitter or leave a comment below containing your thoughts!