Paddy Davitt verdict: Dare Norwich City fans start to believe again?
PUBLISHED: 14:10 08 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:13 08 April 2018
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Norwich City might well be a work in progress but they have a showman’s instinct for leaving you wanting more.
Patience and perseverance appear desirable traits for supporters during a season of discovery.
In the best moments, like from the point when Josh Murphy’s breathtaking strike arced over Sam Johnstone, until the final whistle of a stirring attacking display, City’s football is pin sharp.
But in the fallow periods it is out of focus; stilted, imprecise, hesitant.
Set aside Aston Villa appear hell bent on contriving to blow a charge to the Premier League that is the bare minimum required for Steve Bruce’s expensively-assembled squad.
Norwich bravely took control after Murphy’s sublime intervention and bar a nervous period around Jack Grealish’s second half riposte were full value for a seventh home league win.
That statistic alone speaks louder than any prosaic descriptions of Daniel Farke’s footballing philosophy.
Days after the club announced more than 20,000 season ticket holders had signed up again it was the perfect thank you for such a show of loyalty, when for many that devotion has been sorely tested.
Few, if any, dissenting voices were unwilling to buy into a new approach, filtered through the contraction in the Carrow Road finances which will continue to be felt in the interim period, buffeting what Farke and Stuart Webber must do in the next two transfer windows.
But the payback has been slow in coming.
Debates on the style of football are academic.
Supporters want to be entertained and that is intrinsically tied to a winning team scoring goals. So much of this is woven around finding a consistency that has remained maddeningly elusive.
Farke, for perhaps the first time in the build up to Villa’s visit, sought to highlight the debilitating injuries as mitigation.
From the moment Alex Pritchard departed at Cambridge United in pre-season it has been a running sore.
Pritchard departed permanently in the January transfer window, when his desire to leave and Huddersfield’s revised offer combined to tilt the balance towards the financial imperative rather than perhaps the football one.
Such negative forces impinged on Farke’s room for manoeuvre, but injuries are inevitable and so too a seismic shock to an evolving squad moulded in the shadow of the impending loss of parachute payments.
Perhaps such inconsistency is the inevitable by-product; why City lurch from abject surrender at QPR to thrilling, high energy, high intensity freedom of movement barely five days later in sweeping aside the Villans.
Norwich fans were promised the second half of this season would be better than the first uncertain months under a new head coach and a squad of raw talent mixed with continental imports.
That prophesy was in grave danger of being unfulfilled.
Now Villa could be the start of an uplifting run-in down the stretch, if Farke can harness the positivity from arguably the best Carrow Road display of his tenure.
Achieve that and the summer will pass in a blur of renewed optimism, fuelled one hopes by astute business in the close season trading.
Should Dennis Srbeny add to his opening goal for the club, between now and May, then the emergence of a genuine goal threat at the top end of the pitch might be underway.
Farke spoke candidly on Friday about the wild emotional swings that weigh on his efforts to get the boulder rolling down the hill.
It appears woven into the DNA of following the Canaries.
The levels of support underlined by another impressive season ticket take up place demands on the head coach and which ever players cross the line to deliver. Mid-table mediocrity is not good enough.
It will have to do this time around, with enough compelling evidence of brighter days on the horizon. But next season is the acid test.
City need to sustain a challenge at the right end of the table.
When you witness the way they set about Bruce’s under-performing side, packed with big names and plenty of quality, then the gap looks like it can be bridged.
There is enough raw material to be competitive and a full season of experience behind those who were new to the Championship when the action kicked off at Craven Cottage back in August.
But this season’s peaks and troughs act as a cautionary brake.
The curve bent upwards on Saturday. It needs to continue on the same trajectory.