Michael Bailey: Farke’s beating chest, fragile sparks, beeping radars and Forest failings – Six things learned from a super City grounding
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It was a statement of intent at the City Ground – Michael Bailey delivers his Canaries super six as Norwich City hit back in style against Nottingham Forest.
1 – Farkelove is starting to catch on
Even through the darker days of last season, most Norwich City fans were united in one thing – they wanted it to work out for Daniel Farke.
His positive words and articulate appreciation of what the fans here feel and deserve – it all provided a good will that at times outstripped performances and results.
Perhaps that's why in the aftermath of full time at the City Ground and once the last City player had acknowledged the away supporters, there was Farke – stood on his own in front of 2,000 yellow shirts, and the universal response was a spine-tingling yell.
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It's been a streaky time since the summer of 2017: extremely good runs surrounded by deep trenches of very sticky patches.
But City are starting to prove that what looked like another hot streak this season, is something much more substantial – and Farke's relationship with the fans would blossom from that.
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2 – Leaders don't have to be Scots
No doubt some of the key figures in Canaries' history have been Scottish stars with all the grit and bravery you need to succeed in the Championship rough.
City do have one now too, of course. Grant Hanley is just a few weeks away from giving Farke a headache.
But for such accusatory cries when City fall short, they currently have a Swiss international that is delivering a tangible edge.
There's the goalscoring threat – three goals in three games and a set-piece weapon of real potency – but it's more than that. It's the huge gap between the Timm Klose of the Pirelli Stadium in February 2017, and his performances through most of last season and certainly into this. It's the experience and attitude that is offering a steel frame for City's younger stars to lean on and build from.
Alex Tettey is doing likewise with a new lease of life and it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for Klose, given Tettey's contract about-turn in the spring.
3 – Learning and winning is a rare mix
Not for the first time, Max Aarons had a lot to deal with. At 18, the young full-back is learning on the job – to the point where other managers may well have looked at him and decided on the more customary 'he's not ready' line.
Joe Lolley was certainly making Aarons' life difficult – and yet, the full-back's latest professional football lesson brought fast results.
By the time the game was over Aarons could reflect on a growing influence, a storm weathered and a 10th senior outing that will ultimately only enhance his reputation.
Todd Cantwell will have achieved that last part too – especially considering he outshone a £13m Nottingham Forest recruit from Benfica, in the shape of Joao Carvalho. His influence on Saturday's proceedings was eye-catching, and not just for Norwich fans.
It was a big vote of confidence for Cantwell to not be the make-weight in Onel Hernandez's return – he paid that back and more.
4 – The radar is starting to beep
The lag is usually a few weeks, if not longer at the start of a season where you're a long way from being considered anything more than midtable fodder.
Even now, no one is expecting Norwich City to be a serious threat at the right end of the Championship this season – and that may well prove to be true. Form is temporary, and class takes time to validate.
But two international breaks down and more than a quarter of the season in the bank, good runs are starting to look more like consistency.
The reaction of the Forest fans will add to the ears being pricked. Indeed, the general consensus at the City Ground was Norwich were the best side Forest have faced this season – for the record, they've drawn at home to West Brom and at Swansea, lost at Brentford, beaten Stoke and won at Middlesbrough.
In the words of Klose, there's still a whole German season to go – but City's surroundings are threatening to change.
5 – Karanka's repeating his trick
It takes two to tango and as well as the Canaries played at the City Ground, to ignore Forest's role would be particularly unwise.
In part, they did a lot of damage to themselves. From an express-train start that threatened to take Norwich to the cleaners – and a wonderful opening goal to prove it – Forest's own swagger seemed to override both their desire to work and appreciation of who they were coming up against.
Aitor Karanka has done a grand job of moulding Forest into his side – carrying plenty of similarities to his Boro team of a few years ago: fluid going forward, obdurate at the back and a wily arrogance that diminishes the pleasure being offered in terms of their creativity.
In some ways, that swagger offered false security – and by the time Forest realised, it was too hard for them to regain the upper hand.
Forest want to emulate Wolves' model and success – but they might need to forget about that to achieve it.
6 – The spark is there to cultivate
In terms of a series of six lessons, it's rare they are all so positive – and it's not an oversight. It's a genuine result of an afternoon where even Forest's fast start was more an expression of what City's hosts had in their locker, than any great failings on Norwich's part.
And from Farke's reaction to the positive development of some big young talents – plus the positive results to go with it – you can understand the prospect of Tuesday night's floodlit visit from Aston Villa and what has to be a healthy dollop of passionate anticipation from those inside Carrow Road.
This is not last season – and has the potential to be so much more.
The table is still worth ignoring. Accumulating points is far more important than an erratic hierarchy after 13 games. Indeed City's current tally of 21 points is fewer than at the same stage of their previous four Championship campaigns.
In turn, that means this season might not be the strongest – and is a door City should try to push against.
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