Here we are only five games into the premier league season and already it’s edge of the seat, rollercoaster, and crash helmet stuff for Norwich City. As predicted there’s loads of goals at both ends, talk of golden boots, calamity defending and no way of telling where we will end up finishing in the table. Are we a Wolves 18/19 or a Blackpool 10/11? Nobody really knows. One thing to be proud and thankful for is we are a breath of fresh air & entertaining the terraces and the FPL Community. A boring Chris Hughton Norwich side this is not!
The rollercoaster began at Anfield on a wet Friday night, as James and Suj cracked open the beers with their live stream. That’s exactly what some of my mates headed for, as they departed Anfield at half time 4-0 down to find a nearby pub to numb the pain. They had seen enough of the goal avalanche and could take no more. Grant Hanley came in for a lot of stick but he’s wasn’t the only one guilty of being a rabbit caught in the headlights. Naive Norwich (as the lazy pundits love to call us) came out in the second half and tightened up, had a bit more of the play & scored a consolation. That Teemu Pukki goal was maybe to be a season defining moment and helped give him the continued belief that he could deliver the goods on the big stage. Rarely has a consolation goal been celebrated so wildly by fans and players alike. Maybe looking at the bigger picture, it was to be more than just a consolation.
I guess that gave us hope and belief for our must win game at home to troubled Newcastle. Already billed a relegation six pointer and vital to get the monkey off our backs in order to relieve the pressure and burden of being winless for too long, (in 04/05 we didn’t win a game until November) Norwich delivered the goods comfortably with ease and style. This was the game that Teemu Pukki grabbed the headlines for his hatrick, but will also be remembered as the afternoon that Todd Cantwell announced his arrival onto the big stage as a 4.5m playing midfielder. Cantwell was largely unknown in the FPL community and an asset who previously divided opinion amongst Norwich fans for being very hot and cold. Benefiting from Farke’s trust and belief in the youth and to coach and educate the talent already at the club, it soon became clear we were dealing with a different beast to the one seen in 18/19. Cantwell looked sharper and quicker than ever and appeared to have bulked up and worked on his physique over the summer months. The link up play in the 3-1 win between Cantwell and Pukki was breath-taking at times and left us all licking our lips.
A proper ding dong with Chelsea in GW3 awaited, as both teams went for victory with some class attacking and wayward defending. End to end stuff with both teams looking very dangerous with the ball going forward in full flow. A very encouraging display from Norwich who matched Chelsea for long periods, before the visitors took firm control with their class and experience. No disgrace losing by one goal to the Europa League winners and a real learning curve. Norwich were beginning to earn themselves some national plaudits finally and there was the growing belief that we could score against anyone in this league, and not just the once.
The biggest disappointment to date was the performance and not really turning up in GW4. Take nothing away from West Ham, but that was easily the worst we’ve played in a long time. Nothing to do with playing against the big boys in the big league verses players of international class and high calibre, we struggled to string two passes together at times and didn’t carry our usual attacking threat. For whatever reason we were sluggish and lacklustre and desperately lucky that Tim Krul (not for the first time this season nor the last) kept the score at a respectable level. The only good thing to come out of a defeat, is that under Farke we don’t usually play badly twice in a row. The only bad thing about that, was the ever growing injury list and the small matter of having to play Manchester City in GW5.
And yet somehow Farke’s patched up team of wounded soldiers managed to pull off one of the biggest upsets in Premier League history. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of the team as an underdog. To win this game took a gigantic effort, and the celebrations at the end were as good as I’ve ever seen at Carrow Road on a non-derby day. You couldn’t be more proud of them upsetting the apple cart and lapping up the love from around the world in the days after. Granted, at times it was all hands on deck and men behind the ball, multiple blocks, clearances, challenges etc, but going forward we played some incredible football, giving the true masters a taste of their own medicine. We caused Man City problems all afternoon, and as mentioned in my first article there will be plenty of other teams who come to our place and have a real game on their hands. Emi Buendia had his best game of the season so far, surely a Norwich triple up is a step too far? But with 4 assists to his name so far and full of beans, there might come a time when his attacking talents are too good to turn down. If you are after a differential right now, and have no Norwich cover you could do a lot worse.
What next for Norwich City on this bumpy ride… I haven’t got a clue, but it will be fun.