Timm Klose’s unfortunate attempt at a sliding clearance to gift Stoke their winning goal on Saturday may have been a literal slice of bad fortune, but for once City have luck on their side in the timing of this international break.
While there is little doubt that table-toppers Leeds would cause most Championship teams problems playing how they did on Saturday, their comfortable win at Carrow Road highlighted more worrying wider issues for City.
The League Cup may be a staple in the English footballing calendar, but since Norwich City lifted it at Wembley 33 years ago there’s little doubt its stature in the game has dwindled, along with its attendances.
In the 13-week period that Norwich City’s fortunes did not pre-occupy supporters’ minds this summer, those of us who followed every kick of England’s exploits in Russia were reminded how special this game can be when hope far outweighs expectation.
A derby clash at Portman Road and a cup tie at Arsenal followed by two home games against tough opposition, all in the space of 10 days. This run of fixtures was always going to test both the depth and character of Norwich City’s squad.
Last week was pretty remarkable – achieving league wins against three very different types of opponent with Grant Hanley sidelined for every game, and Onel Hernandez for the last two, was beyond the wildest dreams of most City fans.
The first few league games before the first international break always feel like a kind of phoney war, with clubs still integrating new players with old and the loan transfer window still open to allow those with the requisite resources to further adjust their squads.
In the opening minutes of last Saturday’s game the Leeds defender Luke Ayling found himself closed down by Jordan Rhodes and left exposed by his own goalkeeper who had rushed from his line with no hope of getting to the ball first.
As City’s disappointing season meanders towards its seemingly interminable close, games and results have become almost secondary to statistics, which are being pored in over in much the same way that an ancient Roman oracle might study the entrails of a freshly-sacrificed sheep.
At least we can now resolve the long-standing debate about how to improve the atmosphere at Carrow Road. If the EFL were to appoint Tim Robinson to referee all of City’s home games I’m convinced that we would have plenty of noise.
When Timm Klose, finding no one open ahead of him, turned and played the ball back to Angus Gunn from the halfway line to an undertone of boos halfway through last Saturday’s first half I feared the worst.
With yet another international break upon us it seems like an appropriate time to assess the current state of the Canary nation, and there is no doubt that the overall mood has been lifted by Saturday’s performance.
Saturday’s game was much more than just a football match, with so much raw emotion in the Carrow Road air as fans of both teams united spectacularly to show great respect for the passing of Michelle Dack and Gemma Thomas.
The week leading up to the game at Bristol was a difficult one for everyone connected with Norwich City Football Club, with Alex Pritchard jumping ship for the greener grass of Huddersfield and Daniel Farke’s plans for the game disrupted by a late training ground injury to Tom Trybull.
As we trudged away from the Pirelli Stadium after one of the worst games of football I’ve seen for some time, and in which City’s first shot on target came in the 78th minute, I suspect that few of us were relishing the prospect of a game against Millwall.
There have been painfully few crumbs of comfort for City fans in recent weeks and, whilst the victory at an injury-ravaged Birmingham City removed a little of the gloom hanging over the club I don’t think anyone is going to get too carried away just yet.
Last Saturday’s game was slightly surreal in that City utterly dominated the first 20 minutes, created two excellent chances and then proceeded to gift the initiative as sloppy errors and unfocused defending allowed Bolton to claim a two-goal lead which had looked totally beyond them in that opening period.