Terri Westgate: Has a heavy defeat ever felt so uplifting for City fans?
Friday was the longest day.
We all woke like children on Christmas morning, a moments flicker and we'd remember. The Premier League returns today with our Canaries in the season opener spotlight.
But we had to wait for the 8pm kick off. Some, like myself, had to go do a day's work and keep our concentration on the job, whilst feeling a rising mix of excitement and nerves from the pit of our stomach. A lucky couple of thousand or so went on a seemingly never-ending journey across the summer holiday roadways of the UK, from the Eastern bump to the North West port of Liverpool. The home of the European champions.
The weather seemed to reflect the turbulent emotions, varying from strong wings, heavy rain, sweltering sunshine and muggy air you feel you could slice through with a knife. Slowly the hours ticked away.
Unable to be at Anfield, my viewing location was a favourite pub. As kick off suddenly got closer the number of patrons began to swell, friends arrived, the temperature inside rose. It felt like we were on the precipice of a volcano about to blow. We watched with pride as our team, those heroes of the Championship, walked out onto the pitch. This is where the rollercoaster journey of last season had taken us. To the biggest stage in domestic football.
We all know what happened next, and how long it took for Liverpool to break through our jittery defence - albeit with a fraction of luck for that first goal. The Reds seemed rampant. This was the script that all the pundits had predicted. But those of us paying attention could see that Norwich hadn't come to park the bus. That lovely quick passing movement was still there, we were breaking forward and getting in the box, creating chances if not taking them.
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In the pub some were getting irate, making negative comments about our players - however our table spoke about how we could see glimmers of great football. Half time arrived, we were four goals down. Many went outside to escape the heat, and some didn't return. In the second half the room was much less crowded.
It's such an overused cliché, but it really was a game of two halves. All those first night nerves seemed to dissipate, our defence was more assured, our midfield grown in confidence. Tim Krul makes a save that had us all on our feet, singing his name. Then the inevitable happened - Teemu Pukki scored. Such a typical Pukki goal, the Finnish finish.
The final score indicated a comprehensive defeat. But our beaming faces and animated talk portrayed something different. Hope was still there. We had played Farke ball with style, created many chances, and we looked better and better the longer the game went on. We were playing a team who had lost only once in the league last year and had won the Champions League. They were better than us, but then they are better than most of the teams in this division. If we play that way every week, we'll get goals and points.
Just as importantly I'll be proud, I'll be entertained and I'll be singing my heart out. After all the excited post-match chatter, I had a short walk home (unlike those who went to the match and didn't get back till dawn - that's commitment!).
At last the weather broke, and the rain tipped down on me. Yet even this couldn't dampen my mood. I was not disconsolate, the defeat hadn't left me crushed. I couldn't wait for the next game, back in our living room and being part of the Barclay roar. Big compliments to Farke, for I greeted this opening defeat with smile and a wink.
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