Paddy Davitt: Norwich City on the rise again in the Championship
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Less a signal of intent, more an invigorating sense of renewal, sparked by one of Norwich City's very own.
Much has been said, written and felt about the club's latest failed brush with the Premier League, but the sight of Jacob Murphy in full flow was a perfect mission statement for a new course.
Blackburn were abysmal, blown away in 30 minutes of tortuous attacking motion and blurring speed unleashed by the Canaries at Ewood Park.
Rovers should not be used as an accurate measure of just how tough the Championship road ahead is. Sheffield Wednesday's pending visit to Carrow Road may provide a better guide but Alex Neil's squad can approach that home opener buoyed by an opening day command performance.
Murphy was ignominiously culled in the early stages of the final friendly against Hannover 96, after the Germans exposed a weakness down the Canaries' flank. Neil insisted it was no reflection on the 21-year-old and Murphy's inclusion in the starting line-up here was a major vote of confidence.
The former FA Youth Cup winner delivered with a vibrant display capped by a sublime individual strike that may have endangered the home fans sat behind Jason Steele's goal if he had not veered with unerring accuracy into the top corner.
City's defensive resolve was only seriously tested the once, when Anthony Stokes climbed above Ivo Pinto to beat John Ruddy, but by that stage it was abundantly clear Norwich possess the weaponry to inflict misery on the second tier.
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Steven Naismith and Wes Hoolahan pivoted around the mobile Cameron Jerome, with Murphy and Pinto offering an admirable outlet down the right. The intricacy of the passing, the speed of thought and a barrage of high tariff moves appeared to daze Rovers in the first period.
Owen Coyle sacrificed Norwich old boy Elliott Bennett at the interval to try and stem the bleeding. City were happy to contain and hit on the counter, with Steele denying Murphy on two further occasions.
Bar Stokes' headed riposte and Martin Olsson's early injury exit this was everything and more City could have wished for.
Given Newcastle's impotent offering at Fulham, which merely fuelled the belief this Championship version is a minefield, City demonstrated in brutal, clinical fashion they have the creativity to cut loose when rivals are unable to plug holes.
The fluidity and the surging confidence was a perfect antidote to any fears of a lingering hangover from a gruelling top flight campaign.
Neil was at pains to stress within minutes of the final whistle it was a small step in the right direction, but it was also a benchmark.
Norwich's dominance bordered on embarrassing at times for the hosts as the frustrated Blackburn support vented their frustration towards a distant ownership and a club which looks in decline.
That perhaps is a more pertinent comparison than the gulf in class on the pitch.
Norwich have stumbled and slipped back a rung but under this manager and with this set of players - backed by a support who it is hard to see ever deserting in the huge, disaffected numbers that appear to have fallen out of love with former Premier League champions - conditions are favourable to rise again.
That will take skill, courage and fighting spirit.
Dominant days like this one will be intespersed with set-backs and stubborn resistance from inferior rivals. But there was a freshness and a willingness from the visitors in Lancashire to embrace the challenge ahead, typified by a young, fearless prospect, which will send ripples around the Championship. Norwich look in the mood for a scrap.