As Nanny would say, it really was a case of ‘Wot about the City?’
06:30 28 January 2016
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My dear old late Nanny always provided the best post-match analysis on Norwich City – I’m afraid to say neither I nor our full-time sports writers even come close.
Survival stakes are so very high
1: If you have a spare half an hour I’d recommend downloading the latest Deloitte Football Money League report. It’s an interesting read if only to show how much cash is sloshing around the Premier League, compared to elsewhere in Europe. Some 17 English teams were in the top 30 in Europe for revenue, which will only grow next season with a new TV deal. No wonder David McNally was prepared to gamble in the transfer window.
Score first, then let’s celebrate
2: What’s with this business of players celebrating when their team has just been awarded a penalty? I’ve noticed it a few times elsewhere, but last Saturday was the first time I’ve seen it from City players, at least three or four of whom high-fived, hugged and back slapped before the kick had even been taken. Thankfully Wes Hoolahan ignored it all and just got the job done. It really is asking for trouble.
A sticky night for young Toffolo
3: Tuesday night saw me spend an evening watching Peterborough United lose out to Burton Albion in a drab match which had me at various points wondering just what I was doing there. Poor Harry Toffolo must have been feeling the same, following a wretched 45 minutes which saw him at fault for the solitary goal, then stretchered off after a nasty head clash. It’s good to see the talented youngster wasn’t seriously hurt.
‘Pool are no more the greats of old
4: We may have lost the match, but Jurgen Klopp really does have a big job on his hands at Liverpool doesn’t he? The moment the teams came through I thought we had a good chance of winning and that must be the same reaction in their respective opposition’s changing room. Even their unsuccessful teams of the recent past had several names to be fearful and respectful of. Not now.
Win, lose or draw. Whether it was a drab 0-0 or a high-scoring thriller, the armchair fan for all of her 80-plus years would always sum Norwich’s fortunes up with the same four words.
‘Wot about the City?’ she’d say in that dyed-in-the-wool understated Norfolk way that I’m sure many readers will resonate with.
Yet, were she alive now, even Biddy Powles may have been moved to greater expressions of disbelief after last Saturday’s stunning afternoon of drama at Carrow Road.
‘Wot about the City?’ indeed.
It was one of those games where come Monday morning it becomes clear just how much of a football-mad county this really is, as offices all over are abuzz with people talking about the drama that unfolded.
It’s funny how many Liverpool fans come out of the woodwork as well.
My place of work was no different and much of the tone was similar to that in discussions on social media in the immediate hours after the defeat. People talked of being furious, angry and gutted at the manner of the defeat. They savaged those players (you know who I mean) whose mistakes had allowed it to happen.
Yet (and I’m fully expecting a bit of mild trolling for the rest of this column that is about to unfold) I felt none of these emotions.
Of course I was disappointed to see Norwich throw away both a lead and undo the work it did to prevent defeat.
Of course I don’t want the Canaries to be relegated and for those dropped points to end up being critical to failure.
But, despite this, my overriding feeling was one of being lucky to have witnessed such a match. Full of flaws and individual errors, granted, but all the more thrilling for it. Games likes this are what I pay my season ticket for.
I was lucky enough to be present the last time Norwich lost 5-4 at Carrow Road to Southampton in a similarly tremendous game in the 1993/94 season.
Two decades on and all I can properly remember from that season is the European run and those 90 minutes.
Granted there was no one of the calibre of Matthew Le Tissier running things on Saturday, but I still warrant that in another 20 years that will be the only game many of us clearly remember from 2015/16.
I’d much rather witness games of this ilk every now and then, than see us try to eke out 0-0 draws and 1-0 victories in the manner of the last time we were relegated. Perhaps that doesn’t make me a real fan.
We may have lost, but at least Carrow Road felt alive and kicking on Saturday. It hasn’t always of late.
Of course, if I was Alex Neil I would have been livid. He and his players clearly have a job to do and I understand why from their point of view points comes first, entertainment after.
He’s got plenty of questions to ask of his players between now and Spurs at home next Tuesday.
He’s also got questions to ask of himself, such as why he does not yet seem to have properly learned that Norwich always needs an out and out defensive midfielder to provide extra cover to our all-too-often over-whelmed back four.
He’ll also have to work out the best way to inform Russell Martin it’s time he was taken out of the line of fire and his captaincy given to either Alex Tettey or Steven Naismith. But this team really should have enough talent to ensure in the remaining games City pick up enough points to allow the rare guilty pleasure of a nine-goal thriller. Let’s just make sure we get the five next time around.