City boss unbeaten on the roadIn the latest edition of his monthly blog, Senior Club Journalist Ben Mouncer reflects on another away day success for Norwich City at Sunderland.
SATURDAY’s win at Sunderland was significant in more ways than one.
Not only did the match yield Norwich City’s first points of the season but the Premier League’s global audience found a team that looked entirely comfortable under its glaring spotlight.
‘Match of the Day’ of course deemed the six other contests less noteworthy, elevating our triumph above those of Manchester United, Everton and Swansea while offering a hearty three minutes, 22 seconds of breakdown analysis in the studio.
But closer to home, the victory extended a quite extraordinary sequence.
The last time the Canaries suffered a league defeat on their travels, you were still making your way through those turkey leftovers and countless boxes of chocolates while perched in front of Elf.
Since the 2-1 reverse at Reading on December 28, 2014, Alex Neil’s men have played 13 league games away from Carrow Road without losing, not counting the Play-Off Final. It includes nine victories and four draws. In shortened terms, that reads like this: WDWWWWDWWWDDW.
In context, the Club’s second best away run over the last ten seasons (years including other footballing ascents) is seven, achieved during the Championship promotion-winning campaign of 2010-11.
The tone was set in Neil’s very first match in charge. City travelled to Bournemouth after an intense week that began with Neil Adams’ departure and ended with a win that sticks out among a season of highlights.
After that day on the south coast, they quickly developed an appetite for away trips: the sweeping 3-0 victory at promotion rivals Watford in February was followed just three days later by the gritty but priceless 2-1 win over Blackburn. The squad stayed up north to maximise their opportunities from the back-to-back visits to Bolton and Leeds in April. Six points followed.
Last weekend’s Stadium of Light conquest was pleasing not only because of the maximum points haul but also the standout quality of the performance. The belief is just there, whenever and wherever this team plays.
As an intensely competitive Premier League campaign unfolds that belief will be tested, but it exists as a genuine confidence that goes to the very core of City’s doctrine under Neil. This is a manager whose powers of extraction are so effective that you sense he could turn Captain Canary into a decent player.
There will be disappointments to match the highs of Sunderland over the months ahead but be certain that this closely-knit team will fight Norwich City’s corner with skill and sureness, at home and away.