‘Every one of us needs to work harder for Norwich City to secure safety’
PUBLISHED: 12:08 11 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:54 12 February 2016
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Let’s get one thing straight from the off, Norwich City do not have a divine right to be in the Premier League.
Ruddy return for West Ham clash?
1: We’ve seen too many changes to the starting XI in recent weeks. I don’t expect that to change against West Ham on Saturday, but I hope we get that vital win and then go for some consistency in selection until the end of the season. My preferred line-up would be as follows; Ruddy, Martin, Bennett, Klose, Olsson, Naismith, Howson, O’Neil, Brady, Hoolahan, Jerome.
Too quick to accept the defeat
2: As I wrote in my last column, the 5-4 defeat to Liverpool did not leave me quite as seething as it did many others. It was a freak game that we shall all remember for years to come. However, it’s the performances like that a game later against Spurs which really get my blood boiling. They’re a good team, granted, but this season shows no one should go out accepting defeat. It felt as if several of the City players had done just that.
A little thank you means so much
3: It’s such a small gesture, but surely every player knows that when away from home, win, lose or draw, simply acknowledging the supporters who have travelled to see you play can do so much to maintain both positivity and unity. Reports from the last few away games of some players not doing this and heading straight down the tunnel is a worry and something Neil and Russell Martin need to eradicate.
Fascinating night among legends
4: Thanks to the Norwich City Fans Social Club who have invited me along to their Legends night next Wednesday, February 17. With Darren Eadie, Adam Drury, Dean Ashton and Dave Stringer taking the questions it promises to be an eye-opening night – if only to hear their take on the current situation. It’s at the Top of the Terrace from 7pm and only £3 adults and £1 concessions. See my next column for a report.
There are a dozen teams in the Championship alone who would argue they are as big a club, with as much potential as the Canaries.
That means, if City are to stay amongst the country’s elite and build an exciting future we all want to be part of, it needs to be worked for.
It’s a dogfight, so it’s time to roll up those sleeves.
That’s the simple message which needs to echo around Carrow Road, Colney and the whole of our wonderful city between now and the end of the season, because at the moment I’m not sure everyone gets it.
And I don’t just include the players in that, there’s work to be done throughout the club, if Premier League status is to be maintained.
The echoes of City’s previous relegation are hard to ignore. A manager who seems to have lost his way a bit, players lacking in confidence and some fans starting to turn. The accusation made of the board last time was they failed to act soon enough to sack Chris Hughton, leaving Neil Adams with too few games to turn the ship around. I for one would like to see the board act straight away. This week in fact.
But not to rid us of Alex Neil. The opposite. If they still believe he is the right man for this job, come out and say so.
Tell the fans he’s your man and appeal to them to concentrate all their efforts on providing the support that is needed during the run in.
Some might see this as the dreaded vote of confidence, but hopefully it would give the players and fans something to rally behind.
Let’s make Norwich united again in all but name.
I’ve no more idea than the next fan whether ultimately Neil is the right man to lead Norwich City. But surely he’s earned more than enough credit to be given our support at the first real signs of crisis?
Those with a short memory might not recall, but few expected promotion when the Scot came to the club in January last year.
That it was achieved puts him ahead in my books. Even if relegation does come, I’ll be calling for him to get a chance to put things right. I don’t want Norwich City to be one of those clubs which sacks the manager whenever they hit a rough patch.
Prior to this run of five defeats in a row, four games was the longest sequence Neil had gone without a win for Norwich. Is that really enough to deem him unfit for purpose? And just who is the knight in shining armour waiting to ride to the rescue?
Of course Neil has made mistakes. He also needs to work harder if security is to be achieved. This team needs a clear vision again. To know exactly what its style is. Neil also needs to choose his men for this battle – and stick with them. He should round up key players and tell them they are the ones he trusts, through thick or thin, to pull City clear. That could work wonders for their confidence.
It’s then time for those chosen ones to up their games. It must take real hard work to play at the pinnacle of your sport and refrain from making the costly mistakes which put that in jeopardy.
At the moment too many City players are failing to show they have the desire or ability to keep their heads for the full 90 minutes-plus. It’s those lapses in concentration of recent weeks that have cost Norwich greatly.
And finally, to us the fans. We need to work harder. It’s been said many times a vocal, passionate crowd, fully behind manager and team can make such a difference. Even to the points tally.
Yes, we are the ones who keep the club going, pay the players’ wages out of our own and spend weekends travelling up and down the country to see them play.
But that alone does not give us the divine right to follow a Premier League team. That takes hard work and pulling in the same direction.