Paddy Davitt verdict: Don’t worry, be happy Norwich City fans
PUBLISHED: 12:07 04 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:16 04 November 2018
Never mind flying under the radar. Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.
This is less about focusing on the end game and all about living in the moment.
Topping the table in early November counts for little in the final reckoning but it feels good, it feels optimistic and it should be embraced.
There will be adversity in the weeks and months ahead. But be in no doubt Farke and his players have already had to clear some major obstacles to reach the Championship summit, on the back of one league defeat since August 25.
Before a ball was kicked, and with painful memories of that final day 5-1 mauling at Hillsborough last season still fresh, Norwich offloaded Josh Murphy and James Maddison in the summer.
That might have worked wonders for City’s perilous financial state but it did nothing to convince supporters another campaign of incremental gains was the limit of their horizons.
In their place came a Finnish striker on a free transfer only those who spend hours playing Football Manager may have heard of. Plus another unknown commodity from the Spanish second division by the exotic name of Emi Buendia.
City’s limited resources required another dip into the development pool for a young defender called Max Aarons, who had to carry the additional burden of trying to follow in Jamal Lewis’ slipstream.
There were simply too many imponderables.
Too many cards to turn over, dice to roll, for this to be anything other than another gruelling Championship season.
Then, after some encouraging signs but fitful results, Farke lost his talismanic captain Grant Hanley to long term injury, plus an untimely spell on the sidelines for Teemu Pukki, after a prolific goalscoring burst that perhaps illustrated it is not always the price tag that is the determining factor in astute recruitment.
Now consider the latest backdrop to a testing away game at a ground Norwich had failed to win since December 2001.
Namely the limitations of the homegrown rule, which deprived Farke of Tom Trybull, Ivo Pinto and Felix Passlack, while Alfie Payne and Timi Odusina were fast-tracked into the City matchday squad with the same indecent haste Norwich dismantled the Owls in a second half burst salvo of counter-attacking verve.
Few, if any clubs in the Football League, have demonstrated such a commitment to blooding academy talent, yet an imperfect storm of injuries, and ineligibility in Jordan Rhodes’ case, conspired to present a formidable threat to Norwich’s league progress.
Add in another self-inflicted episode from the penalty spot for good measure and it really does defy logical explanation how Farke’s squad is peering down on the rest. But as so often already on this exhilarating ride, Norwich found a way to overcome in Sheffield.
Farke implored his players to inject more speed and more urgency into their play at the interval, after the fragile Owls had grown in confidence.
The response was devastating.
Clinical precision underpinned the biggest win of the season and avoided the customary tense finale, with the Canaries’ protecting a slender lead.
This game was long gone before disgruntled home fans filtered away, leaving the stage to the yellow shirts, away supporters and a head coach who must get used to growing adulation.
Those questioning Farke’s methods have fallen silent.
He is delivering on a consistent basis every much as his team.
Vrancic’s deployment in a more advanced role may not have brought the Bosnian a goal from the penalty spot but he was pivotal in the second, third and fourth strikes that secured the points.
Dennis Srbeny repaid Farke’s continued faith in the raw frontman to seal the rout, moments after replacing Pukki. Everywhere you look at present, on and off the pitch, Norwich as a collective is working.
Blips and defeats are inevitable in such an even league.
City’s continued need for financial prudence may count against them in January, when better resourced rivals can dip into the transfer market to bolster promotion pushes. Or it may not.
Pukki is the living embodiment of a different way.
So too Aarons, Lewis and Todd Cantwell. But to peer too deeply into the crystal ball, to gaze into the distance is to miss what is stirring right under your nose.
Savour City’s flowing football and defensive resolve and let the future take care of itself.