Iwan Roberts: Norwich City look like the real deal for place in promotion mix
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
I have to be honest and say that when Norwich's unbeaten run of eight games in league and cup came to an end three weeks ago I thought the bubble had burst and the club would start slipping towards mid-table again.
How wrong was I?
I said a few weeks ago after that Stoke defeat that the next four league games could well decide where Norwich will finish this season as they looked very tough fixtures on paper against sides that were doing well.
When a good run comes to an end it's imperative to get back to winning ways and start a new one and that's exactly what Norwich have done, with two very impressive wins in the space of four days against two good sides.
Daniel Farke must be delighted with the response he's had from his players and in his 17 months as head coach of Norwich these, in my opinion, are two of his biggest wins.
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And it certainly looks like City are now the real deal to be in the mix for promotion, be it automatic or once again through the play-offs, I hope I'm not getting too carried away, but that how impressed I've been by these last two results.
Against both Forest and Villa they had to come from behind after early setbacks, and that shows great spirit, togetherness and determination to succeed – three things that every successful team has. Another thing successful teams have is goal scorers and in Teemu Pukki and Jordan Rhodes it looks like the club have two in their ranks.
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Jordan has had to be patient for the last couple of months and has had to play second fiddle to Finnish international Teemu, who has been in fine form in front of goal for both club and country. When he came back last week with muscle fatigue, Jordan knew this was his chance to reclaim his place, and what better way of doing that than by scoring the two goals that gave Norwich all three points and maintained their position in the top six.
Rhodes has caught the Norwich City bugIt was a good comeback on Tuesday night by the lads... although not as impressive as the comeback I was involved in against Aston Villa when playing for Leicester in the Premier League back in February 1995.
A few weeks before we went to Villa Park our manager at the time, Brian Little, and his two assistants, John Gregory and Allan Evans had left us to take up the vacant managerial and coaching positions at Aston Villa and even though we understood why they wanted to join them (all three had played there with distinction) it still hurt us that they had walked out and so it became a bit of a grudge match.
For 60 minutes things could hardly have gone any worse for us – we found ourselves 3-0 down and clearly justifying Brian's decision to move from the East Midlands to the West, but then, on 61 minutes, we were given a lifeline (well, more of a consolation really) when Mark Robins pulled a goal back for us.
However, our joy was short-lived as Tommy Johnson restored Villa's three-goal cushion on 65 minutes and you would have thought that was game over. But just two minutes later I headed our second in front of the Holte End and you could a sense the panic among the Villa players – there was a clear shift in momentum.
For the remaining 23 minutes we threw everything we had at Villa and it was no real surprise when super sub David Lowe scored our third on 80 minutes. We knew we still had plenty of time to score a fourth as the Villa players' heads had completely gone.
With a couple of minutes to go I smashed a header against Mark Bosnich's bar and we all thought that was our opportunity gone.
But we weren't about to throw the towel in and with virtually the last kick of the game that man Lowe popped up once again to bring us level and send our 4,000 travelling fans into seventh heaven.
It was one hell of a game and if truth be known had there been five minutes remaining we would have gone on to finish the job off and beaten Villa.
It was one of the best games I've ever been involved in.