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Ian Clarke: 'Ridiculous' Norwich City are top of the league...and having a laugh

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 21:11 20 March 2019

Ben Godfrey of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 2nd goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019

Ben Godfrey of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 2nd goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

Paul Chesterton

Imagine someone telling you last summer (and actually after that home drubbing by Leeds) that during the March international break City would be four points clear at the summit of the Championship.

Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke celebrates victory at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke celebrates victory at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

“Top of the league? You’re having a laugh...” I’m pretty sure that would have been the answer (perhaps with more hyperbole thrown in).

As we take a breather from the relentless pace of the campaign and look down on the chasing pack it’s more of a case of “top of the league and we’re having a laugh”.

I want to make it clear that I don’t mean any arrogance with that comment.

We could go on a losing streak, slip out of the automatic promotion places and miss out in the play-offs (on penalties of course).

Ben Godfrey of Norwich celebrates scoring his sideÕs 2nd goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019Ben Godfrey of Norwich celebrates scoring his sideÕs 2nd goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

Football is an unforgiving business.

I mean whatever happens between now and early (or possibly late) May, I really am having a laugh,

For me this has been the most ridiculous season I can remember.

A certain pundit once told us that “football’s a funny old game”.

Marco Stiepermann of Norwich and Kenny McLean of Norwich celebrate their side’s 2nd goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019Marco Stiepermann of Norwich and Kenny McLean of Norwich celebrate their side’s 2nd goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

The 2018-19 season for Norwich City has been that with bells on - and given us some of the most delicious football and crazy experiences of our football supporting lifetimes.

During an early morning stroll with our dog after the Rotherham win, I bumped into a fan who has seen just about everything as a Canary follower.

“Hent that bin brilliant?!” he yelled enthusiastically in his delightful Mid Norfolk accent. “I’ve supported City 50 years and thass the best I’ve ever sin em play.”

That’s quite a claim when you’ve watched the likes of Peters, Crook, Hucks and Wes in City shirts.

Ben Godfrey of Norwich celebrates victory with the traveling Norwich fans the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019Ben Godfrey of Norwich celebrates victory with the traveling Norwich fans the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

That outrageous flick from Emi Buendia against Hull plus countless fantastically worked goals have had us purring.

The style and swagger have been a joy to behold - but what makes the season so crazy is just how different things are from this time last year and what the expectation levels were before the first ball was kicked.

Think back to those rank awful games against the likes of Burton when we had the cutting edge of a broken plastic picnic knife.

Remember that forward a bit, sideways, back, sideways approach which ensured we finished 14th last May. (Yes, below Ipswich - and 39 points behind champions Wolves).

Tim Krul of Norwich celebrates victory with the traveling Norwich fans at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019Tim Krul of Norwich celebrates victory with the traveling Norwich fans at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

With our current haul of 78 points and eight games left, we would already have finished fifth last season.

The win at Rotherham ensured it was the first time City have won six league games in a row twice in the same season,

Having got six points from the first six games of the campaign, Daniel Farke’s troops have bagged 72 from 32 (yes, a ridiculous 2.25 points per game).

There have only been two defeats in 26 league matches.

The traveling Norwich fans celebrate victory at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019The traveling Norwich fans celebrate victory at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

We’ve had mad late comebacks and broken hoodoos we assumed would never end (thanks to @ncfcnumbers for the stat that the last time City won a league game at Rotherham was the same day that Radio 1 launched.)

Remember along come Norwich...?

Being able to be beauty and the beast on different days has been fantastic.

Out-battle a bunch of big units, outfox a wily opponent while outplaying a technically gifted side isn’t what we were used to doing.

Tom Trybull of Norwich and Mario Vrancic of Norwich celebrate victory with the traveling Norwich fans at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019Tom Trybull of Norwich and Mario Vrancic of Norwich celebrate victory with the traveling Norwich fans at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

As much as anything else, the unity which has been created in our club has been ridiculous.

“No better feeling.. 3 points and another step closer.. 8 games to go. That support means a lot...#allinthistogether #otbc”

So read a tweet from Tim Krul on Saturday evening.

“It’s all about the team and the togetherness, the relationship we have got with the fans, you can see it.” That was Kenny McLean’s verdict.

The traveling Norwich fans celebrate victory at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019The traveling Norwich fans celebrate victory at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

“Big big win today. Of course I would like to help the team more at the moment but we all have to see the bigger picture.” Yes, that was a tweet from Timm Klose (let’s remind ourselves he’s a £7.5m Swiss international who can’t get in the starting line-up).

“We are a team - and that’s the way it works. You can feel that we are just having fun this season.” (so says Mo Leitner, who is also warming the bench at the mo).

Farke’s brilliant ritual of leading the fans with his arm waving and chants really caught the eye again after the win at the New York Stadium.

At the same time, however, my eye moved to a proper man hug of all man hugs between Klose, Ben Godfrey and Christoph Zimmermann. They really meant it.

The traveling Norwich fans before the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019The traveling Norwich fans before the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

Then you can throw in the story of Farke and the horse....you just couldn’t make it up!

Of course a promotion push to football’s top table is serious stuff - but let’s keep enjoying this ridiculous ride.

Good luck Chris

Daniel Farke conducts the away fans after watching his side clinch a crucial winDaniel Farke conducts the away fans after watching his side clinch a crucial win

Although Chris Hughton isn’t everyone’s cuppa, I really like the guy and wish him continued success at Brighton.

The Seagulls look in a good position to stay in the top flight.

Hopefully we’ll see him go head to head with Mr Farke next season.

At the weekend they had an amazing fightback to snatch an FA Cup win at Millwall and line up a semi final against Man City.

Norwich City fans in good voice at Rotherham United Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City fans in good voice at Rotherham United Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

What that win has done has made me turn back the clock 36 years to their last quarter final victory in the competition.

I was just a few weeks shy of becoming a teenager when a Jimmy Case goal sunk the Canaries at the old Goldstone Ground and saw Brighton through to the last four.

I still remember the fury from City fans that the striker had committed a foul before netting the winner and sending us home empty-handed.

I’m not still bitter (honestly) and hope they upset the odds and get to the final.

Kenny McLean of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019Kenny McLean of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

So close for Tim

The name Tim Krul has hardly been off the lips of City fans in the past couple of weeks.

The hairy moments against Swansea, the error which led to Hull’s opening goal, Stuart Webber’s declaration that he has been the club’s best signing of the season and a staunch defence of him from his head coach.

The traveling Norwich fans get behind their side during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
16/03/2019The traveling Norwich fans get behind their side during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 16/03/2019

The glovesman divides opinion among many supporters – I for one have been won over by him.

And he so very nearly wrote his name into Norwich City folklore on Saturday.

Unless someone tells me differently, a Canary keeper has never scored from inside his own box.

Yes, he had the assistance of a big South Yorkshire gust – but Krul was just inches away from finding the net at the New York Stadium.

I can only imagine how quickly the Rotherham keeper’s heart must have been pumping as he saw the ball go over his head.

Assume that counted as a shot off target for Krul?!

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