Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke was pleased with how his side started their 2020-21 Championship season, as the Canaries beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 on Saturday.
It’s not just the win, but the nature of it that really satisfied the boss.
“We are back to winning ways! That’s quite a good feeling, but I’m far away from over-interpreting the result,” he said. “It was just the first game out of 46, but if I could have painted the game I’d have painted it exactly like today - a tough away game, difficult conditions, highly motivated opponent with a new coach and lots of intensity - it was really difficult for us.
“The story of the game was that we were a bit unlucky because for the first time in my coaching career the referee apologised after the game because he missed giving us two penalties, so fair play to him, it says a lot about his character. During the game, it didn’t help us in those two key moments. It was difficult to keep going but I liked the mentality today because we showed we were greedy to not just drive away with one point.
“There was a mistake in their passing before the first goal but to see three of my players chase to win the ball and be that selfless like Teemu was with a world class assist for an easy tap in for Adam is great.
“It was a hard fought game, a hard fought win, a clean sheet and three points, so definitely a dream start to the new season.”
It wasn’t just the performances of those on the pitch that impressed Farke at the John Smith’s Stadium, but the attitude of those off it as well.
“Today, Adam will be in the spotlight and I’m delighted for him because he’s a brilliant lad, but the goal says a lot about Teemu,” Farke added. “He was criticised over the summer break but showed the mentality to be hard working. It was 95 percent a goal of Teemu but he’s so selfless.
“I have to praise the mentality of my lads. On the bench, I had players who were not involved like Ben Gibson, Alex Tettey and Jordan Hugill - unbelievably experienced lads - and they supported the players from the sideline and were delighted to win the game, although they’d like to be on the pitch.
“For example, Jordan went to Teemu after the game, gave him a hug and praised Adam. This is the mentality. Of course, Jordan would have been delighted to have the first game under his belt for us in the league, but to be happy for his striker colleagues is exactly the kind of mentality we need.
“I also have to praise Michael McGovern today. I’m allowed to tell you a secret - I had a proper outburst to Adam Idah during this week because I didn’t have the feeling he was focused enough.
“Of course, it’s difficult being in the spotlight when he had his debut with Ireland. I asked him for more concentration and discipline, and then after training I spoke to Michael because he is an experienced player and influence. He said today after the game, ‘I spoke with Adam and told him he has to pay back your trust for choosing him today.’ That togetherness and team spirit is exactly what we need in this league.”
A point away from home wouldn’t have been a bad result, so three points reflect a great start for the Canaries.
“It was a difficult game today,” Farke said. “Huddersfield played with lots of intensity, a bit like the Leeds philosophy, and you could see this during even their friendlies. Many teams will struggle to win three points here. To have this game already out of our way and to finish it with three points is brilliant.
“At Championship level, each and every away draw is a good and solid result, but to return after the first game with a clean sheet and a win under our belt is quite good, especially in this spirit.
“Until the next international break in October, it’s a tricky period because we had a short summer break and then the first international break, which disturbed the preparation. We had to struggle a bit to go through the first weeks and to start with three points is great.
“It wasn’t an offensive firework today, but I’m delighted with the spirit.”
City now have a week to prepare for their next game, the visit of Preston North End at Carrow Road in round two of the Championship campaign.
“It’s not a guarantee we will be successful next week,” Farke said. “On this level, each and every game is unbelievably difficult and you have to be switched on and fully concentrated in every moment.
“Preston will have a proper week to prepare as well, so not a big advantage for us, but in general it will be good to have a normal week because the lads were away for a long time, like Teemu playing two games in the international break.
“Our young lads were involved with the young Three Lions, so it’s good now to calm down and have a proper week, then we want to go again next weekend.”