In an afternoon soaked in emotion, Carrow Road was a cauldron of togetherness as supporters stood in solidarity as they remembered one of their own in Michelle Dack, a Norwich supporter who tragically lost her life this week. It was an emotional display of togetherness and underpins the togetherness and communal aspects of this great football club.
Despite a cold day, supporters were suitably warmed by Norwich’s performance which was as composed and secure as any which supporters have witnessed at Carrow Road this season. Admittedly, Rudy Gestede’s first half red card altered the dynamic of the game, but Tony Pulis’ defensive tactics was seemingly an emulation of most who have visited NR1 this campaign.
Finally, those with home season tickets got a flavour of the success which has been discovered on the road.
Norwich has rarely overseen such a comfortable encounter under Daniel Farke. This is now definitive momentum. Farke’s side now possess upward mobility and whilst the playoffs seem a stretch too far this season, the building blocks are being assembled for the future. Afternoons and evenings at Carrow Road have so often been filled with nothingness, not only was this emotional, but it a performance full of professionalism and dominance from the hosts.
The descent to the final whistle was one of comfort and ease, with a sublime strike from Tom Trybull being the determining factor.
Trybull’s new contract was announced moments prior to kick off, and the strike was exceptional, but it was the all round game of the midfielder which impressed. When you consider the style and physicality of the opposition midfielders, Trybull negotiated the potential pitfalls with technical supremacy and ease.
He arrived as an unheralded entity on these new shores, yet he has proved to be a undiscovered gem. Trybull has been lauded from all quarters of the Norwich City universe for his consistency and in many aspects has filled the void of a certain Jonny Howson.
Despite an abundance of positives, Norwich still look unimaginative and one dimensional during offensive phases of play. Middlesbrough is a well drilled outfit under Pulis, but Norwich struggled to cover ground and create chances at will, which has been a reoccurring theme this season.
Whilst Nelson Oliveira continues to work hard and his hold up play is something improving game by game, his desire to drop deep condenses the pitch for Norwich to offensively influence the game and limits balls forward due to this lack of outlet.
This was one of his best performances in a yellow and green shirt for a while however, but discipline is required to aide Norwich’s threat at the top end of the pitch.
Norwich is becoming reliant on wonder strikes to dictate the outcome of matches.
Whilst that method is proving successful, it is simply an unsustainable model. Norwich has the substructure in place to build upon, but now must learn to kill off games with ruthlessness and composure.
This was a performance full of assurance and confidence from a set of players who are growing with the project. What was visible was the change in mind-set from the supporters; this was no longer a ground full of angst or frustration but one buying into the style of play and process which their team is currently undergoing.
Farke is entitled to highlight the relative disparity in resources but what Norwich now possesses is a close knit group full of competition, there lays the key ingredient to future prosperity. This is a squad moulded in the image of its head coach, full of class and tactical understanding, but now the addition of minute qualities is required.
This newfound togetherness has been, in part, down to a largely productive transfer window and a clear, coherent plan in which supporters can see being actioned by those spearheading operations at Carrow Road.
Three new players in, and supporters were showcased two of the new imports.
Moritz Leitner is a player seeking a revival of his career, much in the same manner as his compatriot, after losing direction within his pathway. A once Borussia Dortmund regular, Germany’s U21 captain and a Champions League runner up, he seemingly had the world at his feet.
Yet with the emergence of Julian Weigl and some poor decisions, Leitner finds him in Norfolk.
In this 30 minute cameo, Leitner looked technically superior to anyone on the pitch, regularly spraying a range of passes without looking like he’d entered top gear.
The omission of Jonny Howson was a perplexing decision by Pulis, yet Norwich has filled the void left by the Yorkshireman’s sale and in doing so has discovered Trybull and now Leitner. These additions, crucially, have cost Norwich significantly less than retaining Howson’s services.
Another example of this is Onel Hernandez. He became the first Cuban to play in English football as he stepped onto the hallowed turf at Carrow Road and injected some blistering pace which Norwich have lacked so much this season.
Could he be the spark?
Differentiation has been required at the top end of the pitch to reduce this one dimensional, lethargic and lateral build up play currently seen. If Hernandez can adapt, he could provide that quality.
This is an upwardly mobile Norwich City. The playoffs seem a stretch too far, but with a tricky trip to Derby County before the second leg of the East Anglican Derby, this is a massive two weeks for the club which could determine whether this side can mount a late push.
The quality inside the playoffs seems well beyond the inconsistent and streaky Norwich at present, but if they can continue to operate as this current level, anything is possible.