From capitulation to jubilation, this Norwich City side never say die.
An unrelenting mass of points, a togetherness oozing out from every facet of the club and a squad of players who possess both technical ability and mental resilience. There is plenty to enjoy at present for those supporters who have had to endure a series of seasons full of underwhelm and frustration.
In contrast to some fixtures this campaign, Norwich didn’t operate at the same high level. Ultimately, it’s all about finding a way to win a fixture and snatch points that they have no right to collect; that’s the earmark of potential contenders.
Good teams find victory when they haven’t been in top gear.
That’s how promotion challenges are formed and runs sustained. This wasn’t a vintage display, but one which emphasises the endeavour and personality of Daniel Farke’s current crop. Carrow Road was a cauldron of noise as Teemu Pukki volleyed home, the bedlam that ensued was born from the relief which was pertinent around the stadium.
It was the type of narrative synonymous with a Rocky film, and in a week when Farke discussed the Pirates of the Caribbean, Norwich are constructing their own story.
Despite enjoying extended periods of possession, Norwich was pinned back by a Bolton side who impressed.
Bolton displayed an abundance of offensive endeavour coupled with a defensive shape that frustrated Norwich. Considering the off-field shenanigans overshadowing matters on the pitch currently, this was a wholesome and committed away performance.
Talk of suppression at two-nil down was short-lived, Bolton pressed with a greater intensity as a collective, forcing Norwich into making mishaps at the back. Phil Parkinson was brave in his tactical play following Norwich’s second. Some would have opted for consolidation, but they were more ambitious.
Norwich missed Timm Klose’s aerial dominance for both goals.
His injury in the warm-up was something they could have done without, but Ben Godfrey proved to be a more than capable replacement. Godfrey wasn’t at fault for either goal, yet Klose’s stature could have aided the aerial bombardment that arrived from the visitors.
Defending set-pieces and second balls in the penalty area is a topic that Norwich need to refine and improve. Criticism will be directed solely at the door of Tim Krul, but as a collective, they struggle to respond quickly to those incidents.
Mistakes will always be magnified and discussed in greater depth if they come from a goalkeeper. Yet, recollection of his saves in the first half prevented his side from going behind, the constant line of communication he creates with his backline allows the young guns to relax and his catch in the dying embers relieved pressure.
He isn’t perfect, but the fact his performances are being highlighted are a testament to how good Norwich look at the moment. Support, as opposed to creating a bandwagon, is what Krul requires to improve. Enjoyment of this squad and this moment should be inclusive, the need to pinpoint individual mistakes isn’t a characteristic that should be prevalent.
Win or lose, mistakes or not, this side is built on a foundation of togetherness. Supporters should uphold that at the forefront of the minds.
Upon his appointment, Farke discussed how he wanted his side to be the protagonists of matches.
Last season, the foundations were being laid, it was a transitional season full of adaptation for both supporters and players. On reflection, that is simplier to disgest and understand. The fruits of their labour are evident, construction of a side who possess a big heart to accompany their intellect.
They press relentlessly. The second goal was a graphic illustration of the intensity of City’s newfound swarm once they lose the ball. Enhanced physical conditions of the operators are down to a rigorous fitness regime, Norwich can work harder for longer. Contrast this fact to last season’s offerings, Norwich are winning possession higher up the pitch.
Considering the proximity to kick-off that he replaced the vastly experienced Klose, Godfrey stepped in and impressed in his first league start of the season. The youngster has had a watching brief for the most part, but stepped in fully committed to the cause, this underpins the aforementioned togetherness. He grasped his opportunity, it was Klose’s omission as opposed to his inclusion responsible for the goals.
His athleticism means he can cover in behind excellently, as well as possessing a technical ability which allows him to accommodate to Farke’s philosophical style seamlessly. However, communication with Christoph Zimmermann was lacking at points alongside the pair operating with too great a gap between them.
Plenty to dissect, but considering the circumstances around his inclusion, Godfrey coped amicably.
Norwich’s reargued consisted of youthful operators, with Zimmermann the oldest component at 25 years old; that in itself speaks volume as to the bold new approach they are embarking on at present. The collection of academy graduates will only provide motivation for those currently occupying the Canaries youth ranks.
Supporters will hope Godfrey is the latest academy prospect to find himself in the first team picture, only time will tell if he can stay there.
Another is Todd Cantwell who is beginning to display his ability on a consistent basis.
Last week’s goal against Rotherham seems to have kickstarted his Norwich career. Previously, Cantwell was passing where he possessed the ability to go alone. Confidence is an integral part to his game; his manipulation of space is excellent. He is now demanding the ball, something that wasn’t evident previously.
He is living the dream. For supporters in the terraces, Cantwell is the personification of every Norwich fans dream and an inspiration for all in Norfolk that your ambitions of playing for your boyhood club can become reality. Norwich haven’t had a Norfolk born goal scorer since Ryan Jarvis, Cantwell isn’t just an excellent player, but a beckon of hope that Norfolk boys can play for Norwich.
For too long, youngsters have had to explore different avenues, seemingly rejected due to the fact the club are casting they’re net wider in terms of youth recruitment. When the ‘he’s one of our own’ chants are sung about Cantwell, they are done so with extra gusto.
Games like this are conventionally few and far between. The last campaign Norwich managed to grab numerous last-minute winners, they achieved promotion.
After the exploits of last season, Farke and his approach were questioned. Last season, Norwich scored 49 goals in 46 games, so far this season, they have 38. 18 of those have arrived in the last 6 games, coming from 9 different goal scorers. Those bemoaning the lack of entertainment last season are having their concerns answered emphatically.
What’s special about this Norwich model is that it is unique.
Few across the country are constructing what Norwich have. Few gave them a hope of reaching the top six, with the playoffs looking like a stretch too far. Expectation wasn’t evident; dreaming was all City fans were given prior to this campaign.
This team doesn’t compromise, they display endeavour, attitude and mentality even when they aren’t being gifted the rub of the green.
Christmas is nearly upon us and the wish from most City supporters? Let them top the table because then, they’ll have history on their side.
A huge thank you to Diane Blazier for allowing us to use her image in the header of this article.