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Did you see that Norwich

City goal against Aston Villa on Tuesday night? Blimey. Eighteen passes, every

outfield player involved, the kind of intelligent movement and interplay with a

dash of brio that even Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City would have been proud

of. When Jordan Rhodes applied the finishing touch Carrow Road purred.

That 2-1 win followed an equally impressive victory against Nottingham Forest

three days earlier. The Canaries’ third win in a week against Brentford on

Saturday was a little lighter on the free-flowing football, but as we enter the

winter months of a relentless Championship campaign, their winner courtesy of a

raking, 50-yard punt and a display of defensive grit and resolve also augers well.

Whisper it, but there is a whiff of optimism at Carrow Road and it is most

welcome after the discontent that has simmered in the stands for much of the

past few years. First, the perennial yo-yo club’s season in the Premier League

sun came to a whimpering end. Then Alex Neil’s time came to a rancorous


Misgivings about the stewardship of Delia Smith, Michael Wynn-Jones and the

Carrow Road board festered too. A more financially straitened future has also

been tough to face.

Last season, the football employed by Daniel Farke, a manager about whom little

was known when he arrived from Borussia Dortmund II in 2017, also took some

serious getting used to. Nice to watch, but patience in the team’s build-up

play was not always shared by supporters in the stands. And while it was billed

as a season of transition, Norwich’s

14th-placed finish — two spots behind Ipswich Town — did not meet expectations.

All the while Norwich have had to bid farewell to their brightest stars. Last

season, it was Alex Pritchard, sold to Huddersfield Town for £11 million; Jonny

Howson, sold to Middlesbrough for £5 million; and Jacob Murphy went to

Newcastle United for £10 million. In the summer, Murphy’s brother Josh left for

Cardiff City for £10 million too, and the outstanding James Maddison joined

Leicester City for £22 million.

The club’s financial results for the previous season were released last week

and showed that the club have “rolled our sleeves up to face the challenges” as

Ed Balls, the chairman, said. Financial Fair Play fears have been allayed but

last season’s £32 million Premier League parachute payment was the last.

All of which makes Norwich’s run of eight wins from the past ten games even

more impressive, which puts Farke’s team within two points of the summit of the

Sky Bet Championship table. Farke’s youthful, dynamic team appear to have added

a bit of extra cut and thrust to their play.

“Of course, it’s not like a new coach comes in and after a few weeks everyone

knows everything about the philosophy and adapts to it,” Farke said. “It takes

time to build, for everyone to understand how we want to play.

“We know exactly where we have come from: lots of financial pressure, difficult

years. Last season, we finished mid-table and had to sell our best players.

Now, we are playing with lots of young lads. On the wing our average age is 19,

20. But it’s a sign of our [new] way. You always look to improve the team. To

find some smart and creative solutions.”

Work continues on the redevelopment of Norwich’s Colney training base — funded

with £5 million raised by the Canaries Bond, to which hundreds of supporters

and the club’s directors contributed — where it is hoped more stars will be

nurtured. Farke has placed his faith in a number of them this season and with

the help of the increasingly impressive Stuart Webber, the sporting director

who had been head of football operations at Huddersfield Town during the

Yorkshire club’s ascent to the Premier League, added some astute signings for

modest fees.

Moritz Leitner, a £1.3 million signing from Augsburg, has been a revelation as

the pivot in the Norwich midfield. Teemu Pukki, a former Celtic striker, has

enjoyed a fruitful start since joining on a free transfer from Brondby. After

scoring five Championship goals he has missed the past three games with injury

but Rhodes, signed on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, has stepped into the

breach and scored both goals in that win against Villa.

Rhodes missed a first-half penalty on Saturday but its award was thanks to the

endeavours of the impressive young trio of Todd Cantwell, Jamal Lewis and Max

Aarons. Lewis, 20, and Aarons, 18, are a pair of marauding young full backs who

were signed from Luton Town in 2016, and whose regular inclusion this season

has added a new dimension on the flanks.

Cantwell, meanwhile, is a classy 20-year-old attacking midfielder who joined

Norwich at the age of ten and plays with a poise that belies his modest years.

He has also made the departure of Maddison a little easier to bear. It was just

before half-time when he collected the ball on the inside-left channel outside

Brentford’s box, then looped a sumptuous ball into the path of Lewis, the left

back, who lifted the ball up to the back post. Aarons, the right back, was

charging forward to meet the cross but was bundled to the ground by Ollie

Watkins, and Oliver Langford, the referee, pointed to the spot.

The outstanding Emi Buendía, a £1.3 million summer signing from Getafe, had

scored what would be the winner ten minutes earlier, a first-time finish

described by Farke as a “masterpiece”. The 21-year-old ghosted in behind the

Brentford back four and watched Timm Klose’s searching pass drop over his

shoulder, then with a flick of the outside of his right boot, guided the ball

beyond Daniel Bentley, the Brentford goalkeeper.

Neal Maupay missed a golden opportunity to level for Brentford late on after

Tim Krul, who arrived on a free transfer from Brighton & Hove Albion, had

saved from Saïd Benrahma and Lewis Macleod. The Championship’s leading

marksman, however, somehow struck the crossbar from four yards.

Farke recognises that Carrow Road is a much happier place this season but is

keen to temper expectations. “There is one big unity. A special relationship

between our supporters and the team,” he said. “We have a really good balance

in the team, experienced guys with leadership, like Tim Krul, Timm Klose, Alex

Tettey, and many young lads who give us extra energy, emotion and talent. Right

now we are enjoying our football and we want to keep it going.”


Moment in time: Uefa Cup second round against Bayern Munich, 1993

Twenty-five years ago Norwich stunned their vaunted opponents to become the

only British team to defeat Bayern at the Olympiastadion, in their first

European campaign. Jeremy Goss’s 12th-minute volley, which gave Norwich the

lead in their 2-1 win, is perhaps the most iconic moment in the club’s history.

Goss scored again in the return leg to send them through 3-2 on aggregate

against the German giants.

Cult hero: Bryan Gunn

The Scottish goalkeeper made 477 appearances between 1986 and 1998, and has

since held a variety of positions at the club, including match-day host,

sponsorship manager, goalkeeper coach and first-team manager. Gunn has received

numerous awards for his charitable and community work and in 2002 was made

Sheriff of Norwich for the year.

Greatest XI

(as chosen by Michael Bailey, Eastern Daily Press)

Kevin Keelan — Ian Culverhouse, Steve Bruce, Duncan Forbes, Mark Bowen — Darren

Huckerby, Ian Crook, Martin Peters, Wes Hoolahan — Terry Allcock, Chris Sutton


Good piece, I''m sure Bailey''s ''Greatest XI'' will provide some debate. [:D]

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As Farke said " we are Canaries, we are allowed to fly " , or something like that.

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This Mondays notthetop20 podcast opens with (a flattering) discussion on lamberts appointment and finishes the championship review at about 28 mins with an interview with the times journalist about this game. Well worth a listen.

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