The Sun was shining, the flags were out in force and football had returned to Carrow Road as we walked down Carrow Hill for the first home game of the season against Newcastle United.
I love the first games of the season, especially if the weather is kind and the sun is out, which it was today. As I’ve got older, I’m much more relaxed about things that in years past might’ve worried me and the visit of Newcastle honestly didn’t concern me too much.
Having seen the way we played at Anfield, I feel confident that if we play the same way against lesser teams than the Champions of Europe, then we’ll be competitive.
I’m not being rude but Newcastle are a long way from where Liverpool are at so I see them as a lesser team to Liverpool, I think that’s fair to say.
Right from the off, City were at it and running rings around the visitors. Their passing was, as usual, a joy to behold and it felt just like one of those many Championship games last season in which we dominated the ball, scored more goals and won the game.
That’s basically what happened here.
Teemu Pukki will grab all the headlines with his first Canary hat-trick and the first for a City player in the Premier League for almost 26 years, since Evan Ekoku, when he got four at Everton in September 1993.
Pukki’s first was a thumping volley from the edge of the area after a corner was initially cleared. It was a perfect connection and Martin Dubravka was only able to get a weak hand to it, such was the surprise and force behind the shot.
Before that though, Newcastle’s new £40m striker, Joelinton missed a free header from six-yards out, when he really should’ve scored. I’d fancy my chances from there.
It was a reminder that against better opposition we could’ve and should’ve been a goal down by the time Pukki scored his first, although both Cantwell and Pukki also had chances before the first goal was scored.
Having said that, Joelinton was ineffective all afternoon. A poor first touch and clear frustration at the way Norwich dominated the ball throughout, saw him commit some niggling fouls before going down holding his hip late on.
I didn’t want him to go off though because he was so poor that I figured whoever was going to replace him had to better.
Miguel Almiron also disappointed and really did very little all game. It seems those impressive YouTube “Best of” montages are a long way away from the level that the lad is currently performing at. Between the two of them, they cost over £60m and yet Norwich were lambasted over the summer by loads of pundits for spending just £750k on the first team squad.
The second-half saw Newcastle come out with a bit of fire in their bellies but it came to nothing and the excellent Todd Cantwell produced a surging run that tore the Magpies’ backline wide open before sliding in Pukki for his second.
The third came via another Cantwell run that was found by a lovely through ball from Marco Stiepermann. Pukki went with him and Todd just left it to him for the third.
It was a terrific hat trick, with the first being a goal of the month contender but with only Dennis Srbeny on the bench due to Josip Drmic’s tight hamstring, it does underline how much City will have to rely on Pukki to provide the goals this season. Having said that, if Spurs lost Kane or Liverpool lost Salah for any length of time then even they would feel it. I suspect that we’d feel losing Pukki more though.
Todd Cantwell didn’t impress as much last season as Max Aarons and Ben Godfrey did. Both had breakout seasons with plenty of City fans wondering if it would ever happen for Todd. Is he going to be good enough?
I can tell you now that he is. If you were one of those that doubted Todd, he looks to me like he’s going to have his own breakout season but in the top flight instead of the Championship, this time around. He looks stronger and he’s much more influential now around the box. Some of his passing, especially in the close quarters stuff is right up there with Leitner, Buendia and Trybull.
One to watch for sure.
Talking of Leitner and Trybull, both were excellent and if Pukki didn’t finish by clutching the match ball, either of them could’ve been the man of the match. I love the way that Mo Leitner plays the game though.
He always wants the ball, no matter how close an opponent is and he always knows where he’s going to play it when he gets it. He keeps it ticking over and is akin to an American football quarterback, simply superb.
I’m sure that this is one game that will have given both Tim Krul and Grant Hanley a certain satisfaction. Both were cast aside by Newcastle in the past and it’s always nice to get one over on your old team.
Hanley won virtually everything in the air and when pace was needed overground, he had Ben Godfrey to help him out.
At the end, as has become his custom, Daniel Farke did his now traditional lap of appreciation, commanding the crowd, most of whom stayed behind to take part in the famous “Ole’s”.
Norwich were by far the better team here and fully deserved the three points. Steve Bruce bemoaned that his side didn’t do enough with or without the ball but the basics were that they were massively outplayed.
If say, Liverpool had beaten them like that then there would at least be the solace of “but it was Liverpool”, having been so easily defeated by a newly promoted team will give them no such comfort though.
If I were a Newcastle fan I think I’d be worried.
As we left the ground I heard snippets of conversation from both sets of fans, one from a middle-aged man, talking to his mates made me chuckle to myself.
In a broad Geordie accent, he said “We’ve spent forty million pounds on a striker and he can’t even kick his own ar$e.”
Just about sums it up.