Norwich City Head Coach Daniel Farke insists his side aren’t about to get carried away after beating AFC Bournemouth 1-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.
City started the day eight points adrift of safety, before Watford’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur increased the figure to nine.
The win against the Cherries brought that deficit back down to six points, but there’s still a long way to go, as Farke acknowledged in his post-match interview.
“We’re not over excited, we know it’s only the first step and it will definitely be a long road to realise this miracle, but it was a good first step and hopefully we can go on,” he said.
“Comparing this game with our last one at Old Trafford, we had to hand a Premier League debut in the starting line-up to an 18-year-old. Today, we had top class players and characters who didn’t make it into the squad. They were tough decisions but that’s what we need, we need options.
“We didn’t speak too much about it before the Manchester United game because we didn’t want to have any excuses, but it’s difficult to be competitive on this level when you just have 16 players in training. I have options and quality now, so we are able to be competitive.”
Discussing the win itself in more detail, Farke added how pleased he was with the clean sheet as well as the contribution of new signing Ondrej Duda, who made his debut in the match.
“It was an important win for us, without any doubt,” he said. “It was well deserved because from the first to the last second, we were the better side. A clean sheet as well, so good for the mood, the confidence and the table. It’s a good evening for us.
“We were on the front foot and forced the red card for Steve Cook, otherwise it would have been a fantastic first goal for Duda after a perfect pass from Todd Cantwell. There was good movement from Teemu and it was clear it was a red card. Teemu scored from the spot and we took the lead.
“Sadly, we always do it the hard way because we missed so many chances in the second half to score the second goal. Anything could have happened from a free-kick, corner kick or deflected strike so you always have to be switched on.
“In general, we defended quite well and were focused for the whole game. If you’re not capable of using great chances to score the second goal, you have to be perfect in your defending and we were, so I’m delighted with the clean sheet. We brought a close result over the line.
“Pukki was one-on-one and Buendia, Duda and Cantwell had great chances as well, so we dominated the second half. It was important to control the counters. It was ten against ten in the last minutes, but we had three centre-backs available for the first time this season.
“After Ben was sent off, I was able to bring Grant Hanley in and he was top class in winning his duels. It was a team effort, so many compliments to the lads.
“Ondrej was class. He’s quite important for our game, especially keeping in mind that he’s not in his rhythm having come out of a winter pre-season in Germany without playing many games in recent weeks. He was important for the balance in our game and more or less scored the first goal or at least led to the situation we scored in. His workload, tactical behaviour and how he linked the play pleased me. It was such a good start in a yellow shirt.”
Pukki, who spent part of the week in Finland picking up his Finnish Athlete of the Year award (among others) on Thursday night, was also back in the side following his recovery from a hamstring injury, and barely looked like he’d been away.
“Teemu was important with his movement before the first goal and was ice cold from the penalty spot,” Farke said. “He should have used the chance in the second half, but it wasn’t easy because it was his first game after the injury, so he had to shake the rust off a bit. He was able to do that and was crucial to us winning the game.”