Chris Goreham: Millwall win was the perfect demonstration of what's changed in Farke's Canaries
PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:06 05 March 2019
These are difficult times in which to be a radio professional based in Norfolk.
Our chief representative on earth, Alan Partridge, is back on primetime TV and it’s never been easy to escape from his shadow.
It’s a fact that was underlined by the gleeful “AHAAAAAAA” that greeted us at Millwall’s reception desk on Saturday afternoon when Rob Butler and I asked for our press passes and revealed ourselves as the men from BBC Radio Norfolk.
As much as I have always enjoyed the work of the great Mr Partridge, even the bits that are uncomfortably close to home, his ego may have to come to terms with the fact that Norfolk now has some other people putting the county on the map.
I am so consumed by the Canaries that when I woke up last week to the news that someone from Norwich had won an Academy Award I assumed it would be Max Aarons for his sparkling performances in his opening six months as a first team regular but Olivia Colman provided an often needed reminder that there is more to popular culture in the county than what happens on the pitch at Carrow Road.
As the weeks go by and Norwich City pass each exam the Championship has to offer with flying colours it’s hard to ignore the sense that our football team is doing its bit to show the rest of the country that Norfolk has plenty to be proud of.
The win at Millwall wasn’t just sweet because it put City back on top of the league or because it kept that wag with his Alan Partridge impressions quiet for the rest of the afternoon. It was sweet because it was the sort of game that a side that likes to play free-flowing, passing, possession football is expected to struggle in.
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Much has been made of the same fixture last season when the Lions handed Daniel Farke an early lesson in the realities of Championship football and there have been games since when teams with gigantic strikers have knocked Norwich from pillar to post.
Anyone who was at QPR last Easter Monday for the 4-1 defeat which was inspired by their 6ft 6ins striker Matt Smith or witnessed Atdhe Nuhiu of Sheffield Wednesday (also 6ft 6ins) scoring a hat-trick against City in a bruising 5-1 thrashing on the final day of last season at Hillsborough could be forgiven for hanging on to some nagging concerns about whether Norwich had enough substance to back up their obvious style.
There can be no doubt anymore.
The sight of Christoph Zimmermann rising to thunder home a header from a set-piece of their own and give Norwich a 2-1 lead could not have summed up the differences between this season’s league leaders and last season’s mid-table fodder any better.
Daniel Farke’s approach has never really changed.
Despite the disappointments that were a feature of his first Canaries campaign he has pressed on with implementing the style of football that he was trying to introduce in those very early days.
The gifts of time, patience, smart recruitment and an unflappable faith in young players have allowed Farke to construct a squad that now has the character, trust and the belief to underpin its quality on the ball with a steely determination off it and created a level of consistency that most Championship set-ups can only dream of.
If this carries on the rest of the country will have to sit up and take note.
There are some great things happening here and in Partridge, Colman and Farke we have an eclectic holy trinity flying the Norfolk flag.