Wow, just wow.
What can you say about a performance like that?!
At a ground where Norwich had suffered consecutive 5-1 drubbings and hadn’t won since 2001, the Canaries put all talk of hoodoos to rest as they swept away Sheffield Wednesday, handing out a drubbing of their own.
The early talk at 2 pm, when the team news was announced, was all about the involvement of youngsters, Alfie Payne and Timi Odusina on the City bench.
Such has been the recent injury list for Daniel Farke, the City Head Coach had to look to the club’s U23 development side to bolster his squad with regard to the homegrown player rule.
Fortunately, Jamal Lewis was fit enough to play after a hamstring niggle in the week and, it has to be said, that hardly looked as though it affected him. Lewis’ pace, along with that of Max Aarons on the opposite flank were instrumental in tearing the nervous Owls’ defence to shreds in the second half.
The opening half was scrappy and not a great watch, notable only for another awful penalty taken by a Norwich player.
Mario Vrancic was too quick in the Wednesday area for Tom Lees and with just six minutes gone, and a penalty awarded, stroked a woefully tame side-footed effort at the centre of the goal that Cameron Dawson comfortably saved.
Vrancic put it low and down the middle, meaning that Dawson only had to flop down on it. Mario’s run-up was reminiscent of Rhodes’ stutter type approach against Brentford and that makes it three penalties missed in just sixteen games. Too many.
Only one of those misses, Rhodes’ against West Brom, has cost us points so far. It’s a bad habit and we need to find someone reliable to take them. Can no-one hit a spot-kick with power these days?
The difference between the first and second halves was like night and day though as Teemu Pukki opened the scoring on 51 minutes. Just nine minutes later and the contest was effectively over with City having scored twice more in that time.
Pukki’s importance to the team was underlined here after having watched Rhodes deputise in the last few weeks. His movement and finishing were again on point and it looks as though he’s lost none of his sharpness despite missing the last three league games and getting only 20 minutes at Bournemouth.
When he signed in the summer, I’d never heard of him and the fact he was free too, simply made me suspect we’d just gone cheap. How wrong I was, he’s been a revelation and here he scored his 8th goal in 15 games. Boy, we need him to stay fit.
Wednesday were carved open in the second half by quick, incisive passing and pure pace. The return of Onel Hernandez when coupled with Emi Buendia and Lewis and Aarons were just too hot to handle for the Owls’ back line.
The conductor in chief was Vrancic and his performance, penalty aside, was very good. His vision and precision passing were crucial. Dennis Srbeny scoring the fourth with his first touch owed a lot to the weight of Vrancic’s through ball.
The Canaries’ last ten league games have seen eight wins, one draw and only one defeat. The best record in the Championship and it has taken us to the top of the perch, at least until Leeds get the chance to join us should they beat Wigan on Sunday lunchtime.
Plenty of people, me included, didn’t expect to be in this position but with the football we are playing at the moment, this is no fluke. They say that you can tell what sort of season you’re going to have after about ten games. Well, we’re over a third of the way through the season and we are flying. I can’t help but be a little excited by what I’m seeing.
What’s great about all this though is the unity both on the pitch and off it. It’s clear to me that the team are prepared to run through brick walls for each other and their Head Coach. The way he reacts to them after the game and they to him, tells you all about that. It’s hugs all around.
The Canary nation is also fully invested and the feeling is mutual from the players back towards us.
Right now, especially with Lambert’s ponies languishing at the bottom of the league, being a Norwich fan is great.