Ian Clarke: All of a sudden there’s a warm front around the Canaries
PUBLISHED: 17:09 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:58 27 September 2018
So where on earth do I start analysing that last week and a half then?!
Ever since the international break, just about everything has gone right for Daniel Farke and his men.
Four wins, including three away from NR1, nine league points, eight goals, progress in the league cup, the emergence of new heroes, the return of the feelgood factor at Carrow Road and a real sense of belief.
Amid all the new-found glow, there’s one word which neatly sums up most why I feel so positive – togetherness.
It was there during that excellent win over high-flying Boro, was certainly in evidence at QPR and manifested itself after the cup win at Wycombe.
During his post-match interview following his hat-trick, Jordan Rhodes said Teemu Pukki (basically his rival for the striker’s shirt) had been one of the first to congratulate him on his treble.
“It’s a great bunch of lads in the City dressing room,” said Rhodes, who has been in plenty of them over his career.
You can’t buy togetherness. To a large extent you can’t teach togetherness.
It just happens.
After the huge loss of the stars in the summer, the early-season malaise and the injuries to key players, Farke has managed to generate that bond among his squad, which is clear for all to see.
The facts speak for themselves – and the mood is great.
What a revelation Pukki has been. He’s the first Canary since Ross Jack way back in 1981/2 season to score in six of his first 10 games for the club and by a series of factors is currently the most successful player in the Championship. Not bad for a freebie. You could say he’s simply the chest.
Marco Stiepermann – a player, I’ll admit, I’ve had doubts about – has been a revelation now he’s a round peg in a round hole. He really is like a new signing.
It’s been a great few days for stats – especially the one that it is the first time in City’s 116-year history they have won three away games in one week.
Continuing on the number crunching theme, I’ve also discovered that Saturday’s starting line-up at Loftus Road included three players who were all younger than all of my children.
Yes, I know I’m knocking on a bit (but still south of 50). Yes, I know that situation was always going to come as years tick by.
But remembering that our baby Hannah is still a month away from turning 21, the inclusion of Jamal Lewis (20 years and eight months), Todd Cantwell (20 years and seven months) and Max Aarons (18 years and eight months) was a pretty significant moment in our club’s history.
We love to sing “he’s one of our own”. The inclusion of local lads and those who have come through our Academy is very special.
As a proud Dereham bloke, it is fantastic to see a great guy from a lovely family thriving in our first team.
Todd still has plenty to learn. He may not try to chip the ball out of our penalty area again.
However, he has fantastic skills, and look back at a string of those killer passes he has made in key areas over the past few days.
Lewis is looking more assured with every game. He and Aarons prove it is possible to bomb forward as full-backs while also sticking to their primary role of defending.
I love the blend of their youth, the more experienced lads, those with a background in the English game and those who have grown up playing abroad.
We all know there will be tough times ahead. Purple patches don’t last forever.
Another tough week is in store with the visit of fifth-placed Wigan to Carrow Road this weekend followed by a trip to Frank Lampard’s Derby on Wednesday and then the arrival of Stoke on Saturday week.
However, having togetherness on the pitch, off the pitch and in the stands counts for so much.
Let it grow and grow.
You have to love those clever folk who come up with new songs for our players.
We love singing them and I know the lads are chuffed at hearing them (well, at least the good ones!).
I knew it wouldn’t take long for chants to be dreamt up for man of the moment Teemu Pukki.
And this one – which was created shortly after THAT goal at QPR – is a cracker.
(To the Only Fools and Horses them tune)
“No panic buy, no transfer fee, No Holland flop, no poor* loanee, head or foot, knee or chest, Teemu Pukki you’re the best, God bless Pukki’s Feet, Viva Pukki’s Feet, God bless Pukki’s Feet, C’est magnifique, Pukki’s Feet…” (*word changed for a family publication!)
Let’s hope we keep hearing it and that the flying Finn keeps banging the goals in.
Maybe we can get a second verse especially dedicated to Steve McClaren….
Cup of cheer
Plenty of managers (including several at our club over the years) see cup competitions as a low priority.
Fortunately, Daniel Farke has a different approach – and long may that continue.
Last season we had that amazing League Cup away trip to Arsenal which saw a brave effort to overcome the Premier League giants and saw one of the biggest followings for years.
The Chelsea FA Cup adventure was also an epic.
This season we’ve already had lots of thrills and spills as well as 10 goals in three games.
The ties have given some younger and fringe players the chance to shine – and they have certainly made the most of their chance.
Roll on Saturday’s draw for round four.
I’d like a lower league side at home, please, to keep the run going.
I sense another big away night could then be on the cards.