Six things we learned from Norwich City’s Burton Albion triumph
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City make it a high five ahead of two big trips on the Championship wagon this week. Michael Bailey brings his lessons for the road…
1 – Now that's what you call a reaction
It's been said time and again – it isn't about whether you lose, but how you react to it when you do.
Well since Norwich City went down in abject style at Birmingham, they have won every game.
That's four in the Championship, five in all competitions and includes a trip to top Premier League opposition as well as coming from behind to win at Nottingham Forest.
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In reality, the late frustration of those home wins over Cardiff and Wigan has all but dissipated – leaving the fact they brought six points. Any worries from Saturday's victory over Burton will most likely head in the same direction too.
In 2010-11's promotion campaign, City avoided back-to-back defeats all season – in fact, six out of their eight league defeats were followed by wins.
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The record was similarly as good two seasons ago – apart from City's autumn run of one win in 10 matches that ultimately did so much damage to Neil Adams' promising start in the second tier.
Consistency is sometimes just a euphemism for being good, something City should be at this level – and WDWDLWWWW says so too.
2 – Ivo Pinto is a majestic man
You get the feeling this season is made for Ivo Pinto. The full-back's pace and quality that saw him playing Champions League football this time last season, looks top notch in the Championship.
And yes, that includes his defending. Only very occasionally has the Portuguese been caught out at the back so far.
Then there is his attitude. Many a player has flung praise at the Carrow Road crowd in the hope of winning favour – only for the fans to see through it.
But with Pinto, there is genuine affection in both directions – flourishing thanks to Pinto's character.
His willingness to enter the Championship 'pitchwar' – never mind revelling in it – says a lot about the player Alex Neil drafted in last January.
There was one anomaly though. That such an attacking full-back should not have scored a single professional goal was bizarre. Fortunately, Ivo's finish on Saturday for his very first goal proved that was never down to his finishing ability.
With Martin Olsson scoring too, the full-backs are making a full impact – to the point where you wonder if they'd rather take that over clean sheets?
3 – We were better off not getting any
Remember in the Premier League when Norwich City were never awarded penalties, and if they were then the Canaries would have picked up loads more points and probably stayed in the Premier League?
Well now we're in the Championship, where Norwich are being awarded penalties – and keep missing them.
Well, for missing read the goalkeeper keeps saving them. And while Wes Hoolahan's tame spot-kick at Nottingham Forest got what it deserved from Vladimir Stojkovic, Jon McLaughlin should be very happy with the long arm he shot out to deny Robbie Brady from 12 yards. It was a fine stop.
So which scenario would anyone prefer? City are spending more time in opposition penalty boxes – hence more penalties.
But they do need to take seriously the fact two keepers have denied them so far, and make sure who takes them doesn't start to become an issue.
And yes, Ivo probably fancies a go: 'Portuguese players are very good at penalties,' he joked. Well, he has scored a goal now.
4 – Interval drinks need to be stiffer
You dig in for an entire 45 minutes, eke out a deserved lead and then spend a few moments regrouping before you go out again to finish the job.
And within a minute, you've shanked clearances, mistimed headers and lost your lead to pumped-up opponents.
It's about as frustrating as it gets – unless you recapture your lead a few seconds later, of course.
The sight of City's slow start to the second half on Saturday was far from a one-off – and in the past has caused more of an issue. Last season the Canaries conceded more goals in the first 15 minutes after half-time than at any point during the opening 45 minutes. You'd like to think it's something City will look to improve.
And while at the weekend Alex Neil's perceived caution at making substitutions had no particular bearing on the game, it is hanging around in the Canaries background.
That City head to St James' Park on Wednesday arguably brings things full circle, given the 6-2 of 12 months ago – alongside whether Alex Tettey's return to fitness should mean a return to City's in-form starting line-up.
5 – Coaches are exempt from officialdom
It was the second half exchange that prompted me to do some Googling, while the Barclay and Snakepit combined for their own version of asking who the bloke was in the Burton dugout.
It turns out the tall, bald, angry man who spent almost the entirety of Saturday standing on the edge of the visitors' technical area was Albion's first-team coach Andy Garner.
No issue with any of that – until the man appeared to completely lose it, following Jamie Ward's naughty late challenge on Russell Martin.
Garner stood there for about a minute, launching abuse at the City skipper – who was more bemused than anything.
Meanwhile, the fourth official also stood there – unable to bring himself to attempt an intervention.
If he's not allowed to, then plenty of his colleagues have flouted the rules in the past.
Garner didn't even get a talking too – which given Martin Olsson was booked for a far more brief bout of dissent, rather rankles.
A word here for the first-half moment when not a single player would pick up the ball to help restart play for a throw. Bizarre.
6 – The radar is starting to beep
It's been constant since August – maybe since May. And it probably peaked at 5.30pm on Saturday, when Newcastle took on Aston Villa in Birmingham.
Not just that. We've had Wolves' entertaining takeover – as well as superb starts for Barnsley and especially early pace-setters Huddersfield.
And let's be honest – Norwich have spent a few seasons bouncing between the top two divisions and haven't really set the top-flight alight when they've been there. That's the view nationally anyway.
City's ambitions this season had been almost ignored – but the mask has now slipped to its lowest point this term.
Villa's draw, the Terriers and Tykes stumbling – and it's now City top of the Championship and flying.
There's every chance City won't be there come their trip to St James' Park on Wednesday, given the rest of the division plays on Tuesday – but there's no hiding under the radar from here on in.
Bristol City boss Lee Johnson reckons Norwich are the best side they've faced – and they've played all three relegated teams. Alan Curbishley has City as favourites. Time to accept the cover is blown.