Paddy Davitt verdict: More Matrix than Pirates of the Caribbean
PUBLISHED: 13:00 09 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:33 09 December 2018
Norwich City were soporific too often last season. Now they are an assault on the senses.
Never mind Pirates of the Caribbean. Daniel Farke and his players appear to be mastering the Matrix.
Stoppage time comebacks? No problem. Losing your defensive lynchpin to an injury scare in the warm up? No problem. Throwing away a two-goal lead? No problem. The more complex the equation, the more creative the solution.
Farke’s prosaic response to finally receiving the manager-of-the-month prize, on the eve of the Trotters’ visit, was amusing and original in equal measure. But it cuts to the heart of the matter.
The head coach believes and so do those he is putting his trust in.
No obstacle, no barrier appears too great to overcome. A mythical awards’ ‘curse’ is small beer in comparison.
This is not just about talent but temperament. Farke is displaying an alchemist’s touch in his ability to mould old and new, precocious youth with streetwise experience. Unity forged through a collective identity and a common purpose.
If you wish to be churlish, albeit it runs counter to the mood swirling around a rejuvenated football club, you could contest Norwich have been less assured, less clinical in their recent productivity.
Do not underestimate the loss of Moritz Leitner in that regard, given his metronomic ability to control the tempo of Championship games.
Tom Trybull and especially Mario Vrancic have underlined their credentials but the alliance between Leitner and Alex Tettey is one of the cornerstones on which the Canaries’ elevation has been constructed.
Against clubs fighting for their very survival in this league - Millwall, Rotherham and now Bolton - City have had to dredge even deeper than we have previously seen. They have not had everything their own way, the currents have often proved truly adverse, but when the dust settled on all three occasions and Carrow Road fell silent they had deposited nine points in a growing kitty.
That is what promotion-winning teams do. And let us not be skittish about stating the fact. That is the prize on offer now.
Farke again predictably sought to narrow the scope of his and his team’s ambitions after this latest thrilling comeback.
There was no Hollywood-themed analogy, just cold realism about the scale of the task ahead and the resources available to rivals looming in their rear view mirror.
You can extrapolate the points, the goals scored and the Norwich wins to this point and produce any number of modelled predictions. But however this campaign develops from here, Farke and his squad have exceeded every expectation.
One can draw a pertinent parallel with Bolton’s league visit last season. Another exercise in frustration, where the gap between City’s smooth possession and no end product was Teemu Pukki-sized.
Alas, there were plenty of other examples during Farke’s debut tour, but the contrast then to now is immeasurable.
The danger is what happened against Millwall or Bolton becomes the accepted norm; the par score on any given weekend.
It is anything but. These are exceptional displays of courage, allied to the quality underpinned by a recruitment strategy that is bold and innovative.
Farke himself was moved to label what transpired against Bolton as ‘special’ in the degree of difficulty and the size of the challenge for such a young side.
He was also honest enough to admit he felt Timm Klose’s late removal from the starting line up would leave his young defence worryingly exposed to Bolton’s direct approach. Instead he got more of the same.
After slim rations Norwich fans are gorging on breathless entertainment better than any you could find on the silver screen.
Peering over the horizon is tempting but staying in the moment demands total focus.
Teams are now pitching up in Norfolk freed of expectation and pressure. Bolton looked anything but a squad who had won only one of the previous 15 and weighed down with reported wrangles over unpaid salaries. That will be the norm from here.
It requires a shift in mindset from those on the pitch as much as on the terraces.
A willingness to embrace City’s inflated status and the patience required for a tense, taut grind rather than a journey of joyous expression.
That is the cycle for any football club swept along in a promotion battle.
The treasure and the pot of the gold is not easily won.