King Kenny; The New and Wonderous Playmaker (@Mark_Neale70)
With the injury to the January Championship player of the month Mario Vrancic, the fated Tettey-Trybull combination at Preston, and the long term absence of Mo Leitner. It was time for Kenny McLean to step up and back up his words.
The Scottish midfielder who said at the end of January after recovering from his ankle ligament injury, “I’m ready to take my chance, whenever it will be.”
A solid performance at Bolton was enough for the Scotsman to keep his place for a far tougher test against high flying Bristol City.
The echoes of “Na na na, Kenny McLean” at the end of the game was a fair indicator the number 23 had lived up too his words.
Despite a goal in each half it was the second half after a tactical tweak from Herr Farke that allowed the Scotsman to join the impressive group of Norwich midfielders that could be classed as the stereotypical playmaker.
The ability to break the lines with his vision, a pass completion percentage of 87%, his reading of the game as he stole the ball before firing in his second and ultimately the winning goal, leaves Farke with a conundrum.
Arguably the best midfield in the division has another welcome addition as McLean finally gets to prove his worth at Championship level.
A welcome problem for any coach is who to pick, with three outstanding playmakers battling for one spot, it is the Scotsman who has the spot for now, but with his German and Bosnian team-mates pressing hard it is up to Kenny to keep proving his worth and be the best of an outstanding trio of midfield masters.
That’s Entertainment (@JoeHinchliffe93)
Farkeball has resulted in Norwich City scoring 68 goals so far this season, that’s more than any other team in the division.
Only West Brom (67) and – arguably – Sheffield United (59) are within touching distance of their yellow and green counterparts, even early pace-setters Leeds have only managed 55 goals so far this term.
Of these 68 goals, 57 have come from open play, 9 from set-pieces, 1 own goal and 1 penalty. Carrow Road has seen 37 goals so far this season, whilst the Canaries have notched up 31 away goals.
Its no surprise that Teemu Pukki leads the way in terms of contributions with 23 goals, but it may come as a surprise that Mario Vrancic is City’s second top goal scorer with 7 to his name; that’s more than both Jordan Rhodes and Onel Hernandez, who are both on 6 goals.
Elsewhere, Buendia, Klose and Stiepermann find themselves on 4-a-piece, after that it’s nominal contributions from a plethora of players.
After the admission from Daniel Farke, that he sat down; Pukki, Rhodes and Srbeny at the start of the season and told them he needed 35 goals from the three of them, its interesting to note that they are only 5 goals shy of that target at this moment in time – Pukki (23), Rhodes (6) and Srbeny (1).
A Carrow Road jumping from it’s very core (@CJSouthwell1902)
Rewind to 2010/11, a certain Scottish manager was leading an unexpected and irrepressible charge through the Championship after dragging the club from its knees to the height of its power.
The cacophony of noise that embraced the final whistle was reminiscent of the best of the Lambert era.
An explosion of noise that was audible across the city centre. That expression of raw passion merely underlines what has been achieved here. Very few elected to leave, opting instead to acclaim their heroes and display their appreciation for all they have done.
It felt seismic. Like a tidal wave of belief suddenly flooded NR1, there were no divisions, no agendas or no anger but pride. United behind one goal, this side has proven that together aspirations can become reality.
What has been constructed isn’t just a progressive footballing outfit but a group of characters who understand the ethos, DNA and ideological processes of this football club. They embrace the shirt, wearing it with pride and passion.
As Carrow Road erupted, the players embraced.
The magnitude of this victory will prolong into this week but the focus will remain the same. Quite simply, the ceiling is in reach, with a quarter of the season to play, Norwich can almost grasp the end goal.
Now, it’s about seeing the job through.
Togetherness is underpinning everything the Canaries do (@CJSouthwell1902)
Make no mistake, Norwich have operated better than Saturday’s encounter with Bristol City.
However, it’s the context surrounding the win and the display of an altogether different skillset that leaves a much sweeter taste in the pallet of the Canaries mouths.
To provide context is pivotal in understanding the magnitude, given the riposte of Bristol City after they discovered an equaliser to possess the piece of mind and confidence to assert themselves on the game in the second period was, arguably, the finest display of their promotion credentials they’ve shown this campaign.
Last season, Norwich possessed metronomic midfielders and a laboured style that lack punch and precision during offensive phases of play.
Their ability and their mentality was questioned, as was that of their Head Coach and their Sporting Director.
At a recent Fans Forum, Farke stated that supporters may get bored with his possession-based style. On the evidence of this fixture, he mustn’t worry.
Not only have those occupying the corridors of power constructed a team glorious on the eye but one that is likable, relatable and able to roll with the punches. Consider the age profile of this group and their perceived inexperience, they are dealing witbh adversity repeatedly with control and maturity.
Dissections of their team goals and passages of play will be a common practice between now and May, their fluid interplay and flair are topics punters have witnessed regularly since the beginning of the season.
But it’s Norwich’s narrative and their group of operators that provoke that innate willingness for success. They’ve been discarded, unfancied and written off by numerous people but have stuck together. That togetherness forms the foundations of their grit and determination.
This is the Norwich City everyone wants to witness; it’s slowly becoming one of the most favourable sides of recent times. If not ever.
Passing a tough test with flying colours; who else but Norwich City? (@CamBurton2018)
The importance of Saturday’s win against THE form team of 2019 cannot be understated.
Every promotion chasing campaign features dips and surges in form throughout the season. Bristol City were in the midst of one of those surges, with a perfect Championship record in this calendar year.
A lot had been made of the previous run where City played Sheffield United and Leeds United back to back, and how important it was not to lose to fellow promotion rivals. This game against Bristol was almost at the level of importance as those fixtures.
In terms of significance, this posed as a big a challenge as Daniel Farke’s men have faced this campaign.
At points during the match, it looked as if Bristol were narrowing the gap to 7 points with 2 games in hand. However, the Canaries pulled out yet another season defining win, not by the way of the usual swift passing moves, but with moments of individual quality.
Between Emi Buendia’s magical cross field ball to set up Onel Hernandez’ cross on the first, to Kenny McLean’s wonderfully struck half volley, Norwich produced several moments of individual skill to push them past Bristol City.
These moments of brilliance were massive, as Bristol had come with a sound gameplan to frustrate City’s slick passing and were forced to change tactically to try and cone from behind.
After City took the lead for the first time, and the Bristol triple sub, City never looked truly in danger and had the reign of the opposition half.
If there was one question we could ask about City after the defeat to Preston, it’s what they would do when a good team with a good plan came to stifle them.
And they answered that question emphatically.