Stop dreaming, start fighting.
That was the sound bite being distributed from the Norwich City camp following a turgid and poisonous Friday night at Carrow Road. If anybody inside the football club required evidence of the scale of battle Norwich had to reach the top half, Friday night was all the evidence required.
Post turkey, pigs in blankets and eggnog, 921 City supporters embarked west in hope more than expectation.
Many probing questions were asked of those in yellow and green in the aftermath of another insipid performance against Brentford. Daniel Farke vowed changes would be inevitable and delivered on his promise. Norwich was a far more adept and cohesive outfit this time around.
This performance provided a needed shaft of light amongst an extensive period of darkness, any discussion of revival or restoration is premature however; this was a win against a side destined for relegation. These games have proved banana skins previously, with matches away against Rotherham and Burton lingering uncomfortably in supporters minds.
James Maddison and Alex Pritchard injected creativity, Alex Tettey and Tom Trybull restoring guile and defensive nous back into a previously fragmented midfield.
Tettey screened brilliantly, Trybull buzzed tirelessly. And how Norwich has missed their presence in the centre of the park. Their engine room has consisted of technicians and been flooded with an emphasis on distribution and aesthetic play. With the dynamism and simplicity of the aforementioned duo, Norwich struck a balanced and cohesive side in the Midlands.
They are not astounding technicians and nor do they fit effortlessly into the long term philosophy, but in regards to the defensive graft they undertake, they are simply the best options for Farke. In order for Norwich to display a better equilibrium within their play, Tettey and Trybull must be the protagonists.
For this victory to be watermarked as the beginning of a revival, it must be married with a win at Burton on Saturday.
Simplicity. That was the order of the day. Players were competent and accomplished in their respective positions, this was a good day. It bears no coincidence that the re-instalment of Tettey and Trybull led to Norwich securing a win and another clean sheet. They are the substructure which allows Pritchard and Maddison to flourish.
Few predicted the insurgence of Jamal Lewis prior to pre season. At 19, he offers athleticism, composure and calmness which Norwich has been short of this season. Mistakes will be made, and inconsistency will be evident but Lewis has a point to prove and a freedom to express himself.
The nullification of Jota, a top class operator at this level, merely epitomises the raw talent that Lewis possess. No longer is Norwich’s left side vacated by a player being shoehorned out of position, Lewis could make that position his own for years to come with a rapid and possibly financially rewarding development for the Canaries.
The panache and aesthetic of Norwich’s philosophy can be stalled; this current period requires victories more than entertainment. This side is capable of dogged displays and this victory can be filed alongside Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Ipswich. Farke must resort to defensive solidarity to spark an upturn in fortunes.
The problems lie closer to home however. An untoward atmosphere fuelled by stagnation and decline has seen insipid and poisonous anger towards the majority shareholders, if nothing else, this result placates supporters, even temporarily.
This wasn’t about the percentage of possession Norwich obtained nor was it about lateral passing, this game was about victory. Difficult questions raised their heads and Farke’s squad needed to respond in a timely fashion. This victory could trigger a run emulating that which has been seen previously.
The tempo was quicker, the direction clearer and the play simpler. This was much improved from the turgid display against Brentford. There was cleverness in the goals and a confidence in the play.
This is not the philosophy.
You only need to glance upon consistently successful managers in this division, like Neil Warnock, Steve Bruce and Mick McCarthy; all pride themselves upon simplicity and organisation. Norwich shouldn’t emulate those aforementioned figures pound for pound, but to emulate snippets about getting results will be beneficial to building a philosophy suited to the Championship.
How stubborn will the bigwigs be? Can they adapt and create a style which incorporates streetwise defensive play coupled with an aesthetically pleasing approach whilst on the ball. This is not yet a turning point, but it could be.
Onwards and upwards for the Canaries. Or so we hope.