Robin Sainty: City have tested our faith at times but optimism for Farke-life has survived
PUBLISHED: 15:00 05 May 2018
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Amidst all of the untrammelled emotion of Wexit a rather entertaining football match eventually broke out at Carrow Road against Leeds.
Clearly the gods of football viewed the event benignly, for surely no better send off could have been devised had the Irish magician scripted it himself.
Other than the horrible weather virtually everything about the day was perfect, from Wes Hoolahan’s entrance through a guard of honour made up of both sets of players to his tearful departure from the pitch shortly before the end, marked by embraces not just from his team-mates but Leeds players too.
While Kalvin Phillips’ stunning strike had momentarily threatened to spoil the afternoon it actually proved to be the spark that ignited a game that until that point had proceeded at a fairly sedate pace. But after Hoolahan’s equaliser it seemed inevitable that destiny would ensure a City victory, and so it proved, with the Leeds goal under siege for much of the second half.
When the teams were announced I was concerned that with Harrison Reed continuing to fill in for Ivo Pinto at full-back and neither Alex Tettey or Tom Trybull in the starting line-up against a physical Leeds side, City might be underweight in midfield, but in fact that proved to be unfounded as everyone in a yellow shirt tackled and harried as if their lives depended on it.
With next season in mind it was also reassuring to see Mario Vrancic turn in a near faultless performance as his precision passing and tenacity in the challenge kept City on the front foot. Vrancic has largely been in the shadow of James Maddison this season but now seems ready to play a more dominant role in midfield.
Of course, it was always likely that if City were able to secure enough possession a midfield of Vrancic, Maddison, Hoolahan and Moritz Leitner was going to be creative and so it proved. Some of the second half interplay was exceptional, and on another day could have seen Maddison finish the game with a hat-trick to his name.
But it wasn’t just on the pitch that good things were happening, as Saturday proved to be one of those all too rare days at Carrow Road this season when the whole crowd found its voice, not just in support of Wes and the rest of the team, but also in the immaculately observed 48th minute tribute to the late Paul Rudd, the father of my fellow columnist Melissa Rudd and another City fan taken much too soon.
Hopefully some of the positive energy from Saturday will be carried over into next season, and I do get the impression that there is rather more optimism amongst fans than was the case at Christmas, although, of course, that could quickly dissipate if the club doesn’t have a good transfer window and starts next season poorly.
However, I think most of us were delighted by Wednesday’s news that Alex Tettey had signed a new deal. The fact is that City’s results have been much better with Tettey in the side, particularly when paired with Trybull, and his experience and huge personality will be a massive help to what is likely to be a relatively young squad next season.
After all the emotional energy that was expended last week I suspect that tomorrow will inevitably seem like an anti-climax at Hillsborough, but hopefully City can produce another positive performance and end the season on a real high.
Regardless of the result I think that for most of us there will be a sense of relief as this season finally ends. It has been hard going at times and has tested the faith and loyalty of fans, but most have stuck with the team and manager and a lot of essential groundwork has been done on which Farke will hopefully be able to build for next season.