5:00 PM Sep 15 2022
Six wins in the second round, second in the standings and third highest scorer in the league – but Anine Norwich City are still notably strong.
Divided Dean Smith’s side battled for in-form Bristol City under the Carrow Road lights on Wednesday, responding to Sheffield United’s late win at Swansea 24 hours ago to continue the competition at the top of the championship table.
It wasn’t perfect – no one said it – and of course, despite this increasingly promising start to the season, City still haven’t hit their second-tier fluency in football.
But a real question for all those out there still bent on relentless mockery, grumbling, and criticism — what more do you want out of this season, exactly?
Despite all of his recent successes and pushing the club to the top of the table, it is quickly becoming clear that Smith’s biggest loss as manager at Norwich City is the simple fact that he is not Daniel Varkey.
As reported in this column last month, FARC and its players treated fans to the most exciting, fun and memorable season of modern times – and certainly my life – in 2018/19, a defining era with a special style of play. We all cherish it and one is now indelibly etched into the club’s folklore.
‘Farkeball’ failed to shoot in the Premier League not once, but twice – on both sides of another magical tournament – and after that system was conspicuously scrapped at the end of Carrow Road’s tenure, the German lost his job.
His successor’s tactics and strategies, as well as his general demeanor and passion for the club, may not be entirely clear, but that in no way means Smith has no influence on this team and is determined to bring City back in. the top.
Of course, the current streak of six straight league wins have lacked the brilliance, flair and footballing firework of the highlights of the FARC era, but the notion that Smith is the wrong man for the job remains downright absurd.
Fans are in danger of appearing increasingly spoiled, fattened and greedy when they continue to continually criticize and write off brilliant victories under Smith, and pointlessly compare them to this artificially delusional idea that City wiped the floor with every championship team under Varkey by playing like Pep. Guardiola Manchester City.
Football under FARC has been amazing, but that in no way translated into teams hitting multiple goals week in and week out, the campaigns marked by dramatic late winners and tough wins over countless hits at home and abroad.
Smith’s football is far from captivating the hearts of City fans, but what he’s been quietly building at Colney is beginning to look like something of a ruthless winning machine, a team capable of score-by-score when playing far from their best and several keys. The protagonists are injured.
After hitting Huddersfield and Millwall on the side, battling for daily home wins at Sunderland and Birmingham and then losing their way to victory over Coventry, Smith’s side went off the blocks to Nigel Pearson’s team on Wednesday.
They paid for inviting the visitors back into the game at the end of the first half, but despite Robbins’ frantic rush in the second half, they managed to pull off victory thanks to a superb header near the post by Josh Sargent.
Smith’s City may not be the polished, free-flowing side we all loved in the Farkeball era, but they’re clearly getting better every week, putting together more sustained possession bouts but often lacking that advantage in the final third.
The defensive determination that plagued Andrew Umubamidelli and Grant Hanley – both superb midweek – was a particularly fun component of the campaign, and despite suffering multiple injuries, this team continues to look for ways to win games after enduring long periods under pressure.
Add Liam Gibbs, Demetris Giannullis and Isaac Hayden again to the mix, and City will be much better equipped with the requisite balance, and midfield solidity, needed to reduce these phases and enjoy periods of more control and consistency on the ball on the rise.
But anyway, after another season of continued misery in the Premier League, are some of our fans really unable to simply enjoy winning football matches and unequivocally appreciate the job Smith does?
It’s time to let go of complaining, forget about FARC and finally accept the fact that Smith, no matter what football looks like, seems to be gradually turning City into another championship powerhouse to be reckoned with.