'It's all about momentum' – Norwich & Brentford set for table-topping showdown

Two of the Championship's best three strikers, 18-goal Teemu Pukki and 25-goal top scorer Ivan Toney, will be in opposite sides at Carrow Road
Two of the Championship’s best three strikers, 18-goal Teemu Pukki and 25-goal top scorer Ivan Toney, will be in opposite sides at Carrow Road

It’s a night when his Norwich City side can open up a 10-point lead at the top of the Championship if they beat Thomas Frank’s second-placed Brentford.

Yet Canaries boss Daniel Farke is the one man keeping his feet firmly on the ground at Carrow Road.

Wednesday’s contest in Norfolk sees the team promoted most often to the Premier League, the last of them under Farke just two years ago, take on the Bees, last season’s losing play-off final finalists.

But Farke warns: “The momentum can change so quickly in this league.”

He knows all too well what happened a year ago when West Bromwich Albion almost blew promotion completely, having been sailing along at the top of the table with the same seven-point lead as they approached the end of February.

Having been overtaken by Leeds at the top, the Baggies won just three of their final 12 league games and only secured automatic promotion when Brentford, having got past them into second place, then faltered in their final two games to allow Albion back in.

“You never know what’s going to happen with injuries and illness,” Farke told BBC Norfolk.

“In this league it’s all about momentum. When you go 10 points clear, you might feel you are more or less through but we know we have to be relentless.”


Wednesday’s big Championship fixtures

  • 17:30 GMT: Norwich (1st, 70 pts) v Brentford (2nd, 63 pts)
  • 19:00 GMT: Watford (3rd, 60 pts) v Wycombe Wanderers (24th)
  • 20:15 GMT: Stoke City (10th) v Swansea City (4th, 59 pts)


In any case, Farke still sees threats from not only Frank’s Bees and the Hornets of Watford in third, but Steve Cooper’s fourth-placed Swansea City, with their two games in hand.

“So far so good,” he said. “But I expect Swansea will win several more points from their games in hand. That would make the gap a bit less.

“It’s also important that we’re not absolutely happy with 70 points at this stage of the season.

“We’re happy with the status quo but now we have keep going. We are not out of the woods yet.”

Kenny McLean's 87th-minute strike took a big deflection off Mads Bech Sorensen to earn Norwich a fortuitous point at Brentford in October
Kenny McLean’s 87th-minute strike took a big deflection off Mads Bech Sorensen to earn Norwich a fortuitous point at Brentford in October

Norwich showed ‘the right way to do it’

While 44-year-old German Farke is on the brink of becoming the first Norwich manager to reach the Premier League twice, 47-year-old Frank is keen just to make up for last year’s disappointment.

But he clearly thinks his Brentford side can bridge the gap. The Bees appear to have got over the wobble of three straight defeats against Barnsley, QPR and Coventry by bouncing back with wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke.

And Frank has not forgotten how close his side came to beating Norwich when the two sides last met in late October. After Championship top scorer Ivan Toney had put the Bees ahead on 27 minutes with the eighth of his 25 goals this season, it took Kenny McLean’s deflected late equaliser to earn the Canaries a point.

“Norwich have proved to be the best team in the division on points,” he said. “Form on the day, and maybe a bit of brilliance, will decide the game. We could show that we are the better side.

“I really like Norwich as a club, I like their style of play, I like their strategy and the way they have done things. Daniel Farke and his coaching staff got them promoted and they got relegated, but they are now right back on track. Instead of sacking the manager and coaching staff they continued as they were – it’s by far the right way to do it.”

A bit more about the birds and the Bees

  • In the nine previous Championship meetings between Norwich and Brentford, since the Bees returned to English football’s second tier in 2014, the home side has only win twice.
  • Both of those two home wins were by the Canaries, 5-0 in December 2016 and 1-0 in October 2018. But Brentford have won on two of their last four visits to Carrow Road – 2-1 in January 2015 and by the same 2-1 scoreline in December 2017.
  • Norwich will be looking to go 15 consecutive league games without losing on home soil for the first time since in an 18-game run in 1986-87.
  • As well as being the top scorers in the Championship overall this season (61 goals), Brentford have netted more away goals than any other team (27 in 16 games).
  • Brentford boss Frank is looking for his first win against Norwich, having drawn two and lost once in his previous three attempts.

Goodbye to Glenn Roeder

The late Glenn Roeder was Norwich keeper Tim Krul's first manager at Newcastle - and gave him his debut
The late Glenn Roeder was Norwich keeper Tim Krul’s first manager at Newcastle – and gave him his debut

Before the match at Carrow Road, both sides will pay their respects to former Norwich manager Glenn Roeder, who died aged 65 on Sunday.

Roeder won just 20 of his 65 games as Norwich manager from October 2007 to January 2009 – but, at his previous club, Newcastle United, he unwittingly played a fateful role in a Canaries player’s career when he gave goalkeeper Tim Krul his professional debut against Palermo in the Uefa Cup in November 2006.

Krul told BBC Radio Norfolk that he will never forget either that night in Sicily – or Roeder himself.

“I was only 18 at the time, Shay Given, Steve Harper and Pavel Srnicek were all still at the club and I wasn’t expecting to make my debut,” he said.

“But, on the morning of the game in Palermo, we went for a walk and he asked me ‘Are you ready to play tonight?’.

“For somebody to believe in you enough to make your debut in a European game was a fantastic boost to my confidence. We won 1-0 and it gave me that ‘dreams come true’ feeling and I’ve never lost that feeling.

“He certainly played a big part in my career. I’ve not got a bad word to say about him. He was my academy manager before he took the interim manager’s job at Newcastle.

“He wasn’t always the sort to be on the front line. He was happy to be behind the scenes. A manager with a family touch. And he’s now been taken far too young. He’ll be missed.”


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