I don`t know about you but I left Carrow Road last night with a slight spring in my step, only a slight one mind, but the feeling of winning a football match had finally returned – I`d almost forgotten what that felt like.
This was literally a game of two halves.
The first saw Norwich toil away, slow in the build up and with ponderous lateral passing. At one point, late in that first period, my wife said to me “Harrison Reed has only passed sideways and backwards”. The second half was such a contrast, with quick, direct play and some super counter attacks.
The return of Alex Pritchard to the starting XI showed what a miss he is for us, having said that, James Maddison again showed why he has been the main man for the first four months of the season. It was Maddison`s drive and ability on the ball that kick started the City resurgence after the break – he is a special player.
As the halftime whistle blew and the boys in yellow trudged off, I looked around at a mate of mine who sits four rows behind me and we both slowly shook our heads. He came down for a chat and our consensus was that we were terrible. Far too slow in the build up and not direct enough to cause Wednesday much trouble. To be fair, Nelson had two excellent chances to score, the first when he inexplicably stroked the ball just wide of the far post (how did he miss?!) and the second from a header when he did everything right, only for Kieren Westwood to somehow claw his effort away.
All of the first period`s best moments came from either Maddison or Pritchard, while several of the worst came from Josh Murphy and Marco Stiepermann, who had, in my opinion, his poorest game in a City shirt so far.
Josh Murphy looked shot and lacking in physicality and confidence. My lad described him at halftime as “a puff of wind” meaning he was so easily knocked off the ball. The Owls` goal came due to his failure to deal with a ball around the halfway line. It was spirited away from him and then crossed in by Adam Reach for Jordan Rhodes to nod home.
Fortunately, Daniel Farke acted on what we had all seen and replaced him at the break with Marley Watkins. I wouldn`t say that Marley did anything earth shattering but he was physical and direct and did what you`d expect of him, he played well.
Farke later denied he`d said anything magical to his men at half time but in the second half they came out with drive and a real purpose to get back in the game.
An early save by Westwood from an Oliveira header lifted the crowd a bit and then a trademark driving run from Pritchard set things going when his parried shot was rifled home by Maddison. Watching the two of them in tandem is going to be worth the admission fee alone, if they continue to play like that.
Wednesday were rocked back and the whole of the Barclay stood as City took the lead from Klose`s bullet header before Nelson Oliveira put away a confidence boosting penalty in the 95th minute. As he took it, I noticed Timm Klose on his haunches and facing the Barclay. He didn`t even want to watch but he sprung to his feet in celebration as the crowd celebrated on all sides of him.
The difference in these two 45 minutes of play was striking and City scored more than two for the first time this season as the Owls were dispatched.
Even Mario Vrancic made a significant contribution in the second half with some excellent cross field passes with both feet but he still didn`t run about enough for my liking, perhaps he doesn`t have to when City play like they did in the second half.
With a fully fit squad, City should be capable of this sort of performance much more often than we`ve seen it so far but one swallow does not a summer make.
It`s amazing how a win can change things and other than Leeds next week, the festive games should provide City with a platform to build on from four games that we should be winning. IF that happens, then maybe the season turns, if it doesn`t then the season is most likely lost.
The games over Christmas and New Year are going to be crucial.