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Prosperity is within Norwich City’s grasp again

08:00 22 December 2014

Norwich City proved they can mix it with the Championship

Norwich City proved they can mix it with the Championship's biggest hitters at Derby. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Norwich City confronted a face from their past on a day that should convince them they control their Championship future.

"Few in the home ranks could have argued if Lewis Grabban or Cameron Jerome had applied the coup de grace in the frenetic final seconds."

Paddy Davitt

Derby’s impressive start to the new campaign after the agonies of a play-off final defeat at Wembley to Gary O’Neil’s QPR marked them out as the benchmark; the standard measurement for success in the second tier.

O’Neil himself made it clear earlier this season whichever side finishes above Steve McClaren’s Rams will be promoted. He more than most within Neil Adams’ squad would know the qualities required to extricate yourself from this most arduous of divisions.

Norwich left the East Midlands not just with a hard-earned point courtesy of Steven Whittaker’s excellent finish but an undeniable sense they deserved more for their efforts. This was not a backs-to-the-wall display dripping in toil and defensive resolve. Only flashes of the vulnerability which has undermined them in recent months prevented a more profitable outcome. The truth was Norwich controlled the ebb and flow for the most part. When they slipped Chris Martin was usually the common denominator in a flawless outing against the club who cut him adrift.

There was little muted in the scale of Martin’s joyous celebration when he slammed home a second-half spot kick past John Ruddy after his cuteness earned the penalty at Carlos Cuellar’s expense.

You could hardly blame the Beccles boy for that. Martin reiterated during the build-up to his first reunion his perfect vision had involved a longer career stay at the club he joined as a 10-year-old. Martin was unfortunate in as much as he was one of the key architects in City’s initial rise from League One but by the time the Canaries landed in the opulent surroundings of the Premier League the forward’s unique brand of languid control did not seem to fit the template.

Martin has matured into a classy operator at this level. Doubts may remain over his residual effectiveness in the top bracket and a lack of pace which appears the only glaring omission from his armoury. But City’s centre backs were unable to prevent him perfrorming as the pivot around which Jordan Ibe or Johnny Russell profited. There are few better exponents in the Championship’s battalion of strikers with their back to the opposition goal.

The turn and awareness to slip in Russell for the opener towards the closing stages of the first half was high-end quality from a man who has plundered in huge quantities over the past 18 months.

But this was not the Chris Martin story. Norwich carried the greater punch throughout. They also showed plenty of resolve in the second period. First to get back on level terms with an intricate bout of close quarters passing prior to Cameron Jerome’s far-post finish and then to reply again after the sucker punch of Cuellar’s mis-timed attempted clearance.

Few in the home ranks could have argued if Lewis Grabban or Jerome had applied the coup de grace in the frenetic final seconds.

McClaren was quick to put his side’s efforts in context after a gruelling week when they had come off second best at Middlesbrough and against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup. That is undeniable, but even without such rigours Norwich’s up tempo approach would have caused the hosts problems.

Adams, for his part, rued a string of decisions, from Jerome’s role in Alex Tettey’s disallowed goal to the obvious penalty appeals when Martin Olsson’s honesty in attempting to stay on his feet inside the Derby box did him or his team no favours.

It was that type of afternoon where there was something to admire and endure for both combatants. Norwich must draw huge confidence from their ability to dictate against a club who will be right in the mix.

There is a familiarity and a cohesiveness now to City’s labours that was absent in the bad times. Adams has named an unchanged line-up for the past three contests but it is is the depth of his reinforcements why City should fear no-one.

Confidence is one thing but there feels a realisation Norwich do possess the personnel and the tactical flexiblity to counter-act what they face on a weekly basis.

That is the biggest change in Norwich’s recent fortunes. Before the dark nights rolled in City’s attacking will and force of personality consumed everything in its path. A pragmatism has emerged from adversity that accepts they can not routinely blow teams away. Derby demonstrated they can harness the robust balance between attack and defence against any opponent in the Championship.

Now the onus shifts to festive jousts with Millwall and Reading, when Norwich must prevail. It would be a major surprise if they took a backward step. One look at the current table tells you there is no margin for error. But Norwich seem to be pefecting the art of providing the right answers.

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18 comments

  • Listening to the Derby version of Canary call on radio Derby on Saturday it sounded every bit as much as though it could have been Canary fans, had it been hosted by Rob Butler you wouldn't have noticed the difference.

    Report this comment

    Egyptian canary

    Tuesday, December 23, 2014

  • Oh , this is " prosperity " in the sense of results on the field of play , after all , " prosperity " in the sense of the club being in hock to some unsavoury Mafiosi is ( hopefully ) a long way off . Praise the Lord for parachute payments and McNally for being an efficient money-man . Apropos of Brew , if the people who operate this site actually HAVE banned him , then all I can say is that this country more and more resembles East Germany day by day .

    Report this comment

    Bring on Foggo

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • thanks tk.

    Report this comment

    bluelight

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • Agreement here with MF & DJF as well. The team is becoming more solid, O'Neil is now doing what he brought in to do, Redmond is looking more purposeful and regardless of contrary opinions, I believe that Hooper is fulfilling his promise and his trademark back-heels have split the opposition defence two weeks in a row. The defence is still vulnerable but I believe that Super-Mike is tightening it all up match by match. OTBC.

    Report this comment

    Swiss Canary

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • My friend the DCFC season ticket holder thought that City were by far the best team to visit Pride Park this season. He says he nearly had a heart attack when he saw the quality of our bench. My reply was that they may have been PL players but ultimately they were PL failures. Dubai so convinced me that Town would be relegated that I had a wager on it - now look at them. Brew will be back - he normally takes December off.

    Report this comment

    Steely Dan

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • Totally agree DJF, just a shame we could not get Phelan in, up and running a couple of weeks earlier then I am convinced we would have also taken maximum points at home against Brighton & Reading but such is football. As MF says, little point in talking about promotion right now but all teams above us will drop points before the season is over, so we just need to be ready to take our chances when they come. Looking forward to the boxing day game, OTBC.

    Report this comment

    TrevorKeith

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • The most noticeable change seems to be the increased tempo of the play from ponderous going nowhere possession to crisp sharp pass and move and no reluctance to go long when necessary. If we can add solidity to the back 4 then anything is possible this season. It was a joy to watch Saturday. Superb!

    Report this comment

    DJ_FRAMBOISE

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • Two things - Good points made Malaga and Bring Back Brewer!!

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    Bury Yella Fella

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • There is no doubt in my mind that Phelan's arrival has been the catalyst for the upturn in our fortunes. Adams now has an experienced mentor to turn to for advice and help and the players have also responded well - probably a long-overdue wake-up call for many of them, whose commitment and quality had fallen way short of the acceptable. It is premature to start talking about promotion but that aside what we are now seeing is an energy, desire, and application which is making us a very entertaining and effective side. For that alone, many thanks Phelan, because a team playing like they did on Saturday will rouse the home crowd and recreate a great atmosphere at Carrow Road once again.

    Report this comment

    malaga flier

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • This upturn in form should ocme as no surpise ...its all down to th ePhelan Factor. Mike P has brought his wealth of experience from Old Trafford with him, the discipline, the winning mentality, the work rate and more than anything, he has won more trophies as a player and coach than the entire Norwich squad combined ...so he has added a degree of credibility to the training regime.

    Report this comment

    Lucioperca

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • Dubai, you always seem to need more than a well earned result. A 'comprehensive' victory is great but very few easy games in this league and everyone scrapping for every point. I was buzzing post match Saturday after the best performance I've seen for a very long time. I'd settle for any win at Millwall. Still a long way to go and stay in touch and we're OK.

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    DJ_FRAMBOISE

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • It was as good an away performance as I have seen for several years, and had it not been for a certain Christopher Martin, we would have come back with three well deserved points. The fact that Ruddy was a virtual spectator says it all. They had six shots all game, and only two on target. We had 17, and could easily have scored a couple more.

    Report this comment

    manc exile

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • Bring Back Brewer!

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • Bring back the Brewer so he may share in the Christmas spirit !

    Report this comment

    Dubai Canary

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • bluelight, I understand Brew has been blacklisted from the site for some strange reason. He did email me after Saturdays game and it appears he went up to Derby. He is making every attempt to get back on site so fear not.

    Report this comment

    TrevorKeith

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • i think that was our best performance of the season so far.if we play like that every week,we have nothing to fear.hope you are ok brew.

    Report this comment

    bluelight

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • All that matters right now is that we secure a comprehensive victory against Millwall on 26 December. Achieve this in some style and the belief of players and fans alike will return in abundance ! OTBC

    Report this comment

    Dubai Canary

    Monday, December 22, 2014

  • Nice article Paddy, There is little doubt that things will still ebb and flow for the rest of the season but it looks as though the introduction of Mike Phelan has added the necessary guile and application to our squad. We have no automatic right to promotion, I think the squad are now well aware of that and hopefully will continue to work as hard as they can to get back amongst the main contenders. OTBC.

    Report this comment

    TrevorKeith

    Monday, December 22, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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