Six things we learned from a crucial Carrow Road classic for Norwich City over Newcastle United

Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy has responded after being left out of the side earlier this seaso

Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy has responded after being left out of the side earlier this season. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

It was all about a vital Premier League win over a relegation rival – but what a way to go and do it. Michael Bailey takes it all down to six key points – just like the new gap back to the Magpies…

1 – Carrow Road's reconciliation with the clappers is complete

It's two years ago tomorrow it all went wrong. Time was when things got difficult for City, the call came for the clap banners – and points would duly follow.

That was until April 5, 2014 when defeat at home to West Brom set Norwich on course for relegation.

The atmosphere was toxic. The sight of shredded clap banners strewn across a sorry Carrow Road was one of the 2013-14 season's iconic images.

And then there was the stray clap banner sent hurtling from the Geoffrey Watling Stand that ended up hitting Chris Hughton. What a thing to have for your last act as manager at a football club – being hit by a clap banner.

So given there had been meetings and conversations in the build-up to Saturday's crucial clash about how best to deliver the right atmosphere, it was always going to be a big call over whether the clap banners would return – especially as carrier bags made a curious entry last time out.

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But you know what? It was brilliant to have them back. They enhanced rather than dominated the noise and I think we'd all happily see them back for the Black Cats.

After all, what works for the mighty Leicester…

2 – It's Ruddy marvellous to have the old John back

Now there are some caveats here. Perhaps not every kick was true. And clearly, it was far from one of John Ruddy's busiest days.

Some might even question Aleksandar Mitrovic's opening goal – although the clear and crucial deflection off Ryan Bennett's head made an important impact on the trajectory off the ball and was more than a little unlucky for the man it beat.

Really, this is about the other stuff. About the fact that heading into the run in, City have a goalkeeper showing the form that means he's in for keeps.

Ruddy's command of his area was the one thing that really caused City problems earlier in the season – be it at West Ham or Manchester City. Now, you see an assured stopper come out and claim with minimal fuss.

It's hard to underplay confidence in all this – be it from the goalkeeper in those protecting him, or that in himself.

But Ruddy's own response to what would have been a devastating blow in being dropped has been perfect – to the point that it could yet prove as vital as anything else in keeping City in the Premier League for another season. Keep it up John.

3 – That defeat at Swansea may left us with a defining legacy

Murphy's Law – things will go wrong, if you just give them the chance.

It's not the most heartening of sayings, but it came true at Swansea. Alex Neil gambled on Robbie Brady staying fit. After all, even the loss of two teeth and a chipped third didn't force him off against Chelsea.

And then he goes and gets injured in the defeat at Swansea – the one time Martin Olsson wasn't given a place on the bench.

Maybe it's just coincidence but since then, not only has the City boss had Olsson in his 18 – he has actually started with him at left-back, behind Brady.

Now given for a number of weeks this journalist has repeated how that particular left-sided partnership should have been in place all season, we don't necessarily have to go into that again – apart from underlining the fact it's true.

But what we can hail is Martin Olsson's part in all this.

The Swedish defender arguably looks as solid in his position as at any time during his Canaries career, while still offering a terrific option when Norwich attack.

And as for his finish on Saturday – that is a moment worth treasuring.

Some things happen for a reason and only hindsight adds context. But maybe Swansea had its positives.

4 – City made the best January signing in the Premier League

The echoes of 2004-05 are the sort you want to ignore – given how that particular newly promoted Norwich side ended up falling out of the Premier League.

That time a late run of success led by a January signing wasn't quite good enough – and the sense of regret stretched to the fact that in Dean Ashton, City had signed an outstanding striker that had City stayed in the top-flight, could have taken them on to a new level for a number of seasons to come.

Well, it feels a bit like we're here again – just at the other end of the pitch.

Timm Klose didn't come from nowhere. There should be no surprises. He's an international centre-back that almost won the Bundesliga last season and was playing Champions League football this.

And yes, he still played in that woeful run earlier this year – but how often was he City's best performer?

The fact is at the moment it's hard to argue the case for a better January signing not just at Norwich, but in the Premier League.

And yes, should City complete the job then Timm looks more than capable of taking them on to a new level for a number of seasons to come.

5 – Fans should not keep the ball before a free-kick

It had already happened once in the first half – at which point your writer here exclaimed it would be hilarious if Norwich scored as a result. It didn't happen – that time at least.

But of course, it did eventually. And arguably at a far more damaging moment in the game.

All football fans find it hard to resist having some fun with the ball when it somehow finds its way into their crowd.

But they will also tend to pick their moments and do it with a bit of class. Holding on to it for minutes on end in a crucial game when your team can't defend or concentrate, and yet is about to face a dangerous set piece, was none of the above.

For a group of supporters so revered nationally for their understanding of football matches, it ultimately cost them one.

The situation takes on an entirely new level when you hear that Rafael Benitez complained about the amount of added time in the first half. I guess he complained to Mike Dean and not the Toon Army.

In truth, the free-kick was still taken within the one added minute anyway – but why let that spoil the fun.

6 – Team spirit could be the Canaries' greatest strength

Without sounding like a broken record, it really is annoying that once again, the first goal has effectively settled the victors.

In reality, coming back from behind is what shows the greatest character – and we will never know how Norwich would have reacted had they gone behind on Saturday. Thankfully we don't need to worry about it.

But they probably got as close to that scenario as they possibly could.

In conceding that 86th minute penalty, City were punched where it hurts. They were swaying on the ropes. Newcastle went for the jugular. There only looked to be one winner.

And yet City got up, shook their heads and won the game. It was a colossal effort.

Still primarily up against two North East relegation rivals, Sunderland seem unable to replicate all the traits of a Sam Allardyce side. With all the issues at the Stadium of Light and just January to recruit, is it any wonder?

As for Newcastle, they look a team being managed by someone yet to learn what is at his disposal, and who will be walking out if they get relegated.

And then there is Norwich. In it together, for the long haul. Sorting out their issues, together. Subs and dropped players on the pitch celebrating. That's the fuel that burns brightest.

• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey

• What Mustard TV's new Norwich City review show from Carrow Road on Saturday, 3 Up Front Matchday, here.

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