Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke was much more impressed with his side’s second half in Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Birmingham City than the opening 45 minutes.
“Great win for us,” he said. “It’s difficult when you have to deliver on all three days and this was our third win in six days at a difficult away ground.
“Birmingham went into this game on the back of a clean sheet win and have many experienced players on this level and need some points to avoid relegation so they’re really well structured.
“Aitor Karanka is a pretty experienced coach who is able to set up teams to be really compact.
“I wasn’t really happy with our first half if I’m honest. We missed a penalty and scored a half own goal but I wasn’t happy with the mindset. We were not willing to do the dirty stuff in defence and too much concentrated on shining.
“We spoke openly about this topic with the lads at half-time. It’s not about tactical topics, but I thought we should have a different mindset.
“I told them I don’t care about the result - it’s not important for me if we win, lose or draw, but I want a mindset on the pitch of 11 mates fighting together, pressing together and blocking all the crosses.
“Many compliments to my lads because it’s not easy to deliver all three days or to change this attitude during the game, but we did.
“The second half was fantastic and we were all over them. We still had to control their counters and they were dangerous but we were patient enough, showed our class and scored terrific goals.
“Overall, it’s a massive win for us and a pretty important three points.”
Birmingham’s desire to attack in the first half didn’t take Farke by surprise, despite the Blues’ more defensive approach at Carrow Road earlier in the season.
“It was still difficult to create chances against them but we scored a wonderful goal, had a penalty and a good situation with Kenny McLean, so we created a bit more than most other sides here,” he said.
“Our work against the ball was not on our top level. We still didn’t allow them to have many chances but there were one or two situations when Hogan had another good chance and we scored a half own goal out of nothing.
“In general, we were not willing to be aggressive enough against the ball and allowed them too many crosses. You could argue we were unlucky not to lead at half-time, but I think it’s karma because we didn’t invest enough in it and they deserved to score the goal.
“It was a completely different face of my team in the second half. It’s not easy to find the next gear during a game but we did and that’s what winners do.”
On Teemu Pukki, Farke was full of praise, particularly highlighting his ability to score important goals at key moments in matches.
“Teemu wasn’t playable during the whole game and they had difficulties controlling his movements. In the last four games, four times he’s scored the opening goal. Today, two important goals.
“He’s not the guy who scores the 6-1 or 7-1, he’s there with the crucial goals at 1-0 or 2-1. He’s in unbelievable shape and red hot form.
“We have the best striker in the whole league for us and I’m happy he’s at his best again.”
As for Oliver Skipp, the boss was quick to remind the midfielder of his goalscoring record!
“I told him straight away after the game, he should enjoy this special day and unique day. I’m not sure if he’ll score at any moment again during his senior career because he’s not known for goals anyhow!
“It was a great moment and everyone was buzzing for him, but the whole goal says a lot about our spirit. It was one set-piece to defend and they brought tall lads in and we got the feeling in the last moments of the game we had to change again.
“Onel Hernandez, although I substituted him in and think he had a great impact, for the last scene to defend the set piece, I got the feeling we needed Jordan Hugill and Jacob Sorensen on the pitch because they’re both strong with headers.
“Jordan was able to defend the second phase of the set-piece and Lukas made a great sprint over 80 yards. To be that selfless, he could have been in the spotlight scoring the goal, to play the pass to Oli says a lot about our team spirit and character.
“That everyone was buzzing for Oliver was well deserved and there was a great atmosphere and mood in the dressing room after this one.”
As for the league table, Farke remains as level-headed as ever, targeting 80 points as the only objective at the moment.
“We’re three games closer to what we want to achieve and that’s it, nothing more. The games are coming thick and fast, momentum can change quickly and the table isn’t important at the moment.
“What’s important is that we have 67 points and that’s outstanding for this stage of the season but we have to keep going. With 67 points, we wouldn’t make the playoffs, so our task is to get to 80 as quick as possible.
“We’re not carried away or over the moon, but happy and delighted with this win today.”