If anybody required evidence as to the mental resolve of Daniel Farke’s current squad, this game proved a stark illustration of that characteristic.
It threatened to be a long afternoon for the Canaries as Matej Vydra widened his lead at the summit of the Championship goal scoring charts after a 12th minute strike. However, in the face of adversity, this is not a Norwich side who exposure a soft underbelly, but one which remains level headed or even improves, particularly away from home.
Naturally, some will point towards the factor of a missed penalty in search of how Norwich didn’t leave Pride Park with maximum points, but the togetherness and refusal to lie down and get beaten needs to be acknowledged.
This is a pragmatic and experienced Derby County side, who under the craftsmanship of an adept head coach, are gunning for a Premier League return.
Derby are unbeaten in twelve and they had only conceded nine goals at home prior to this fixture. Norwich, most noticeably in the second period, were supremely superior to the Premier League challengers.
Those who battled the elements to support their beloved side at Pride Park may have questioned that decision after a first half in which Norwich was suitably second best. Derby’s confidence at home was evident as they pressed Norwich efficiently and injected their game plan onto the match as they dictated proceedings.
For Norwich, the play had returned to the lateral and sedate build up play since previously in Farke’s continued construction of this side. There are fine margins between patient and ineffective play. Norwich supporters saw this displayed at Pride Park.
City require teams to allow them to play, and as such, it’s of little coincidence that when teams opt to press and use their physicality, Norwich often struggle to respond. On the contrary, when they are allowed to exert their technicians onto football matches, they seem an adept and impressive outfit.
Gary Rowett’s side opted for a policy of containment in the second period and this allowed Norwich possession of the football to implement their philosophy onto the game.
If ever Norwich required the fitness of Alex Tettey to remain unscathed, it is now.
This was highlighted as Tettey lay in a heap on the turf of Pride Park. He is now precious cargo, even more so now Tom Trybull has been ruled out until the end of the campaign. It is seemingly obvious that Moritz Leitner will fill the void left by Trybull, but the German is most defiantly cast in a similar mould to that of his German compatriot.
Norwich will be severely lightweight in midfield should Tettey fall victim to the injury list. He is a ball winner, and the only one Farke has at his disposal in the centre of the park.
Nelson Oliveira. The search for a goal continues.
No goal in ten for the Portuguese international but also no away goal since August, a stat perhaps more damning. This is a player bereft of all confidence and his penalty graphically displayed that.
However, he deserves credit for his response to that key moment. Many would have dropped their heads and refused to go again, but not Oliveira.
Naturally people will point towards his return in regards to goals, but this is a player who requires an injection of confidence.
This was a performance with plenty of endeavour but a lack of conviction. Plenty of huffing and puffing, but Oliviera needs to rediscover his goal scoring touch.
This is a striker who was being lauded as the best striker in the division prior to this profligate spell whereby he has severely lacked end product. He must improve but with an East Anglican Derby on the horizon, Farke may see the deployment of Dennis Srbeny in the lone striker role next Sunday as a risk to sizable to go through with.
This result will act as a statement of intent from the Canaries seeking to rise up the Championship standings.
Those daring to dream will still see the playoffs as a possibility until mathematically impossible, yet Farke and his squad’s feet remain firmly stuck to the ground and concentrated on the task ahead.
That small matter is merely the East Anglian Derby. With the two sides gridlocked in the middle of the table, pride could be the thing of meaning worth competing for, but that alone is enough motivation.
For Norwich, they will be keen to prolong this run of sustained and consistent form further whilst extending their pleasing run against their neighbours, leapfrogging them in the process.
And finally, a word of James Maddison, the boy opposition teams love to hate.
A simple drop of the shoulder is enough to bamboozle opposing defenders whilst the quality he possesses is superior to most in this division.
What does the the future hold for Maddison? His confidence, application and attitude is top drawer, but this is not a man who is forcing a move, he is a young man with a wonderful work ethic and appreciation for the opportunity provided by Norwich.
He understands the pathway he must endure in order to reach the top level. He’s in no hurry.
From Derby to the Derby. Bring on Ipswich.