In football, there are some games that feel like a win even though they’re really a defeat. And others that feel like a defeat even though they’re actually a win. Saturday’s draw certainly felt more like a victory than a draw, especially given the timing of Nelson Oliveira’s late equaliser. City have a determination not to lose again, and it feels good.
You only get one point for a draw
Of course, it could be looked at that Saturday’s result was two points dropped rather than one gained. On the face of it, failure to beat a struggling Hull City side should not be cause for celebration. But this was more than a 1-1 draw. This felt like something seismic. The culmination of weeks of tremors, building up to Oliveira’s late explosion.
Certainly, the reaction of the players suggests they know the importance of that late moment of magic. A third successive game at Carrow Road without a goal for the home side would have been disastrous. The outpouring of emotion in the 96th minute suggests a togetherness within the squad not seen for a long time.
This was another improved performance too. Farke’s game plan is evolving as he learns more about the Championship and the English game in general. Early games which left city wide open and vulnerable to the counter-attack whenever they went forward, were replaced with defensive solidarity. Now, long passes are being interjected, when appropriate, into the short passing game.
Yes, there are still too many passes in the last third. But this is improving week on week. Again, there are not enough chances being created. But again, the chances that are created, and missed, are gilt-edged.
Hull scored from their one-on-one, Yanic Wildschut saw his saved. In between being kicked all over the place by Hull’s Number 8, David Meyler, who rightly got his marching orders early in the second half, James Maddison managed to hit the post and test the keeper with good strikes.
Chances are coming. Take some of them and home draws will soon turn into something much more impressive.
Peter Grant, Paul Lambert and Daniel Farke
Many years ago, my sister graduated from City College Norwich. To celebrate we had a night out in the fine city with friends. The ceremony was held on Saturday morning, with the Canaries playing at 3 o’clock. Our friends arrived early and met us in one of the pubs down Riverside. It was probably Wetherspoons. In fact, it was almost certainly ‘spoons.
What confused them as they watched the punters streaming away from Carrow Road were the glum expressions on their faces. Not an unusual sight in the Peter Grant era, granted, but the confusion came as they’d watched the results come in on Soccer Saturday, and Norwich had actually won the game.
On this occasion, a win felt more like a draw or even a defeat. Alan Shearer may not be able to understand that Norwich fans enjoy exciting football, but this scene told a story.
Exciting football was exactly what Paul Lambert delivered to the City faithful, and there are certainly some similarities between his vintage and this year’s side. The late goals which underpinned his promotion to the Premier League back in 2011 are being replicated this campaign. The sense of players playing above their perceived abilities is also tangible.
Farke has clearly instilled confidence and a winning mentality in his troops. As my dad stated, ‘they hate letting a goal in’. Last ditch blocks and bodies being thrown on the line are now standard in this Norwich side. And that can go a long way.
David Marshall, John Ruddy and Angus Gunn
One other similarity between this Farke side and Lambert’s is the goalkeeper. John Ruddy in 2011 and Angus Gunn in 2017 were both young men getting their first real chance in English football.
The similarities don’t stop there. When City scored late against Millwall and Reading, Ruddy was there, at the opposite end to his goal, celebrating with his teammates. On Saturday, Gunn Jr was there, celebrating with his teammates in front of the South Stand.
Playing for Norwich means something for these guys. Winning for Norwich means something for these guys. And that can only be a good thing.
One last postscript from the Hull match. David Marshall was on the away team’s bench. Unlike Ruddy and Gunn, he didn’t appreciate being at Norwich and scarpered in their darkest hour following relegation to League One.
He wasn’t applauded on Saturday. Ruddy will be when Wolves visit later this month. Gunn will be whenever he appears in NR1.
Let’s hope when his loan’s up the next time he graces the Carrow Road turf will be in the Premier League. And let’s hope it’s with Norwich City.