Norwich City’s Michael Turner takes no pain, no gain attitude
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It was inevitable, and perfectly reasonable, that most of the headlines about Saturday's game would revolve around Kei Kamara and Grant Holt.
However, if I were to pick one moment from the game that summed up the spirit that will see City playing in the Premier League again next season it would be an incident in the 21st minute.
Nikica Jelavic had just teed up the dangerous Marouane Fellaini to unleash a thunderbolt towards the corner of Mark Bunn's net, only for Michael Turner to throw himself bodily into the path of the ball and deflect it to safety, at not inconsiderable discomfort to himself. In fact it was a painful afternoon for Turner with a late tumble over the advertising hoardings as well, but he won't have cared.
The fact is that while all of us have been focusing on the lack of goals, the back four have been quietly putting the debacle of Anfield behind them and giving the rest of the team a solid foundation to build upon. Not only that, but their parsimony has ensured that the lack of goals hasn't meant a points famine.
As any defender will tell you (and as a striker I heard this nearly every week in training) it's always goalscorers who get the plaudits, but without a solid defence their goals wouldn't win many games. To simply rely on outscoring the opposition was never a viable long-term strategy for City, even if it could be breathtakingly exciting to watch at times.
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I'm particularly pleased for Turner, who had a torrid start to his City career and was perhaps judged rather prematurely by some, but has now, along with Sebastien Bassong, forged City's most solid central defensive pairing since the days of Craig Fleming and Malky Mackay.
However, the biggest story of the week has inevitably been City's American import. While it would have been wrong to read too much into his brief cameo against Fulham, Kamara's impact on the Everton game was decisive, with his introduction and the later arrival of Anthony Pilkington effectively providing two elements that had been sadly lacking, namely pace and width.
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All of a sudden Everton's back four, which had been happy to hold a high line in the confidence that City lacked the speed to get behind them, was forced out of its comfort zone and pushed further and further back. In addition, right back Seamus Coleman, who had effectively been an auxiliary midfielder all game, was now forced to defend and consequently the visitors' grip on the central areas was weakened.
The result was that the City midfield was both able to push further forward and to start to release early balls into dangerous areas, whereas they had tended to dwell in possession previously.
It was a real step up in tempo, got the crowd involved and ultimately proved too much for Everton to handle.
Apart from his obvious ability Kamara simply exudes energy and enthusiasm and seems to have the ability to lift both his team-mates and the crowd. At this stage of the season those qualities are priceless and the reaction to his goal showed that he has already been taken to the hearts of City fans.
Whether he can build on that and make an even bigger mark on City's season remains to be seen, but the genuine delight that he radiates, not to mention his dance moves, makes him immensely likeable. It would be an extremely churlish person who didn't want to see him become a huge success.
The scenes at the end, with fans and players alike going crazy shows just how important this result was.
It's been a long hard midwinter, but all of a sudden the clouds over Carrow Road seem to be parting.