Michael Bailey: Warning, Warne, wee bairns and Norwich’s 93pc chance – Six things learned from Rotherham win
It was a Millers’ tale we would all like to hear again – Norwich City correspondent Michael Bailey drops off his latest six things learned as the Championship leaders dispatch Rotherham at Carrow Road.
1 – All hail the comeback kings
So what do Norwich City, Manchester City and Arsenal have in common? We’ve just had another example at Carrow Road.
The Premier League pair are the best in their division at accumulating points from losing positions – and the Canaries can lay claim to the same in the Championship. City have picked up 14 points this season from being behind in games – only Aston Villa have matched that tally.
Now let’s be honest. Of course there is no worry in City conceding first if the current comeback trend continues – because the final result is all that matters.
But we are also allowed to be picky. Better teams than Rotherham still have it in them to make life very difficult for Norwich if they earn a lead – and but for a centimetre or two, Ryan Williams’ shot would have gone in off the post and a 2-0 deficit would have posed Norwich a different question.
If City are to be humble, they will know what still needs a bit of work.
2 – Colney’s advert has been written
You can see the ad now... One of our own, Jamal Lewis slips it inside to Todd Cantwell, whose delicious cross is flicked home after Max Aarons’ sublime run: a goal made on the fields of Colney – and one that will sell those same fields to any talent looking for a club that will take a chance on youth.
It was a special moment not to be forgotten and while Aarons was my man of the match for his 90-minute efforts, Cantwell’s influence in the second-half was game-changing.
That is saying a lot. Todd has coped so well with his promotion this season, yet at times it seemed City would be just as effective with someone else on the pitch. More of this weekend’s evidence in the weeks to come, and that will change.
It’s not just the Colney academy either, but Colney first-team training.
No one else has owned the second half like Norwich. And scoring 28 goals from the 71st minute on, says it all about their game plan and fitness.
3 – City fans are racking up assists
It kicked in after a handful of second-half minutes. The home crowd looked at what was happening on the pitch – one spurned Alex Tettey run and the Millers’ dangerous counter – and took matters into their own hands.
No chicken and egg debate here. The City fans raised the noise, told their players they were on their side – and within minutes, City were level. From that point on, the snowball was unstoppable.
By full-time, Daniel Farke was conducting those most German of celebrations – the first time that had happened and a noteworthy event.
From seasons of feeling indifferent towards the City crowd, this season is rapidly becoming something special in the stands too. A renewal of all that is good about supporting a football team. I include Saturday’s Justin Fashanu banner in that.
And it’s not just because City are top. It was October 6 when Norwich lost to Stoke, were applauded off and were sat eighth. They’ve not lost a league game since.
4 – Farke is playing it fair
Mario Vrancic is a lovely bloke, but he probably isn’t enjoying his post-match interviews with me at the moment – mainly because I keep asking him about how this City squad is all on the same page, when so many are having to be so patient for some action.
In fairness, Vrancic is far from the only one I’ve asked – but he is the primary subject that is on the side spending most of their time outside the City starting XI.
It’s a curiosity that Vrancic has been excellent and consistent in all his performances this season – and particularly unfortunate not to have featured more.
But he did give me something after Saturday: due praise to Daniel Farke for making every member of his City group feel part of the team; feel like they’re playing a part in Norwich’s success.
That means the feel-good is not simply down to City’s momentum by default. How it’s being managed is making others step up and keeping everyone pulling in the same direction: upwards.
5 – Warniola really is one of us
Paul Warne is not your usual football manager. From his path into the job, to his honesty when he got it, right through to how he spoke ahead of Saturday’s reunion with his boyhood club.
The warmth of his words will have resonated with all of a Canaries’ persuasion, while his father’s continuing ill-health back here in Norfolk puts everything into a far wider context than football’s bubble.
He’s not just all that though. He’s proving a very decent manager and leader.
Warne is a special character and some of his managerial techniques, belief in emotional intelligence and approach to the culture he has tried to instil at Rotherham underlines the point. The Millers are lucky to have him and on the weekend’s evidence, they will also continue to prosper under him this season.
One thing Warne can be assured of is the support of everyone in Norfolk for one of their own.
6 – The odds have taken a big leap forward
This half-dozen following City’s supreme 4-0 victory at Sheffield Wednesday tolled my first promotion bellwether, as City broke 30 points after 16 games.
A quick flick through the records and a decade of Championship history said more than two-thirds of the clubs to get that far went on to earn promotion, one way or another. Surprisingly strong odds, given we all still feel a bit wobbly-kneed.
Of course, I immediately knew the follow-up: how about when City hit 40? It took them just four more games.
Breaking 40 points inside 20 is an easy sum, even for the numerically-challenged: the magical two points per game average.
And the historical Championship numbers from there are stark. In the previous 11 seasons, 15 teams have also reached 40 points within 20 games: 14 earned promotion, 11 automatically, with Brighton (2015-16) the only side to miss out despite clocking 89 points. You’re now allowed a deep breath.
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