Canaries have the belief to succeed
PUBLISHED: 12:18 29 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:48 02 July 2010
Last week's excellent victory over Brentford threw up a few talking points. Firstly, the positive and confident decision by City boss Paul Lambert to play three at the back after Grant Holt's dismissal played a significant part in enabling the Canaries to ultimately grind out their 1-0 victory.
Last week's excellent victory over Brentford threw up a few talking points.
Firstly, the positive and confident decision by City boss Paul Lambert to play three at the back after Grant Holt's dismissal played a significant part in enabling the Canaries to ultimately grind out their 1-0 victory.
Because by changing to what was effectively a 3-4-2 formation for the duration of the second half, after initially having played in a diamond set-up straight after Holt's red card, it enabled Norwich to continue to pose a threat in their opponents' half of the pitch on account of them deploying the same amount of midfielders and forwards as normal.
It was an inspired call from the City boss, based on complete trust being placed in Fraser Forster and his now three-man defence that they could keep a clean sheet, while the rest of the team focused on trying to get the goal that would hopefully win them the game.
Secondly, surely no-one could have left the stadium with anything but admiration for the copious amount of desire that was shown by the 10 men to secure all three points?
City's will to win shone like a beacon, and the attitude, work-rate and persistence that was displayed by the players could only be applauded.
It was a similar story at Walsall on Tuesday night, when another tactical decision paved the way for more City success.
Norwich were evidently the best side on the night, but the longer the game wore on it did seem as though it was going to be one of those nights when superiority in terms of possession and territorial advantage wasn't going to be converted into decent goalscoring chances.
Norwich were moving the ball about the pitch well, and they were also delivering the ball into the box from open-play and set-pieces on regular occasions.
But despite that, Walsall goalkeeper Clayton Ince wasn't exactly being overworked.
Accordingly, the manager introduced Anthony McNamee and Cody McDonald into the fray in a double substitution, and by redeploying his side in more orthodox 4-4-2 formation it quickly changed the dynamics of the game.
And ultimately, just like three days earlier, victory was eventually secured from a situation that hadn't looked rosy. There is an admirable resilience about the Canaries this season. The players' only focus is on winning football matches and giving everything they've got.
And, combined with the tactical acumen, motivation and leadership that has been evident from the sidelines, it has proved a lethal combination for so many of their opponents.
And finally, the main issue of which there can be no doubt, is that the manner in which the Canaries have steadily climbed the table this season to assume the title of league leaders at five o'clock last Saturday, and then extend their lead at the top of the table in midweek has been little short of incredible.
t ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT
Cody McDonald and - since his arrival - Anthony McNamee have had to be patient.
Like so many others in the squad who haven't been afforded much game-time on account of the superb form of the first-team regulars, they have had to bide their time and simply wait for a chance.
But both of them made a big impact in the game at Walsall on Tuesday night.
McNamee was very direct and positive whenever he had the ball and certainly provided City with a big attacking threat on the left flank, while McDonald scored a goal that might prove to be absolutely priceless.
Just like Gary Doherty when he found himself out of the side, McDonald's attitude has been excellent. He's obviously been very professional and continued to prepare properly for when his chance arrived, instead of complaining, moaning or whingeing about his lack of first team opportunities.
Good on them both. Massive credit must also go to Chris Martin, after he rose to the challenge of suddenly becoming City's main targetman in midweek in Grant Holt's absence.
Martin always made himself available to receive the ball and accordingly he took his fair share of whacks from the Walsall defenders, but he made the ball stick whenever he received it and proved a “safe” target for his team-mates.
He's on fire at the moment and looks like scoring with every opportunity he gets, and it's a safe bet that he is ribbing his usual strike partner right now about the fact that his goal in midweek means that he is now only five short of catching him as Norwich's leading scorer.
t There's nothing like a friendly welcome, is there? And that's precisely what I got on arrival at the Banks's stadium on Tuesday - nothing like a friendly welcome at all. Instead of offering a sociable 'Hello. Pleasant trip?' as he greeted me, the Walsall steward simply got straight to the point. “You lot didn't fancy it up here last month?” he declared matter-of-factly… in a really funny accent. “Oh, is that so?” I said, before adding; “Well, even though I've seen pub-league pitches in better condition than this one, at least we'll find out if we fancy it tonight, won't we? We'll discuss it in a couple of hours time, shall we?”
“Way will in-day-eed,” he replied. I think.
Needless to say, he probably left for home just after Cody grabbed the winning goal, because despite extensive searching, he was nowhere to be seen at the final whistle. He obviously didn't fancy it.