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It’s do or Dai time as Norwich City face ‘must win’ game in Wales

10:08 03 March 2016

Gary O

Gary O'Neil was one of the heroes of the midweek defeat to Chelsea. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

What a difference a year makes. On March 1 – St David’s Day – in 2015, the Canaries stormed to a 2-0 victory over local rivals Ipswich.

...of the week

HERO OF THE WEEK: Gary O’Neil - a man’s man and a player’s player. So much for having a deep gash in his head. The midfielder ran off to get the warrior’s bandage on and came back on to fight for the City cause. Will he become the new Trevor Hockey...?!

VILLAIN OF THE WEEK: I’m getting bored of moaning about officials. But I can’t let the shambolic performances of Lee Mason and his sidekicks pass without comment. The offside, constant siding with Chelsea and needless cards...grrrrrrrr

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: We’ve seen it all from Wes down the years. Tricks, flicks, defence splitting passes, cheeky penalties....whatever level he’s played at, he’s done the business. On Tuesday night – against some of the league’s finest – he was at his mesmeric finest.

FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE WEEK: I’ve seen the goals Man United scored against Arsenal a couple of times – whereas I’ve seen LVG’s hilarious falling over routine during the game loads of times. I tweeted it if you have somehow missed it.

PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: It’s been far too long since City’s away fans have seen the team earn a top flight away clean sheet. I predict the wait will come to an end at Swansea – and I have a sneaky feeling we’ll grab a 1-0 win.

That win included THAT strike from Bradley Johnson and the momentum really started to build in the promotion bandwagon. It was days like that which convinced many of us that it was going to be our year to go up.

Turn the clock forward 12 months and St David’s Day may have been a pivotal moment of a very different kind for Norwich.

The 2-1 defeat to Chelsea saw City slip into the dreaded relegation zone and for a lot of fans was perhaps a confirmation that this is going to be our year to go down. Bournemouth surely secured their safety on the same night and Sunderland grabbed a vital late point.

Norwich’s defeat again encapsulated so much about our season.

We conceded a soft goal at the worst possible time, we missed crucial chances, we were on the wrong end of a string of dreadful decisions by officials and we promised so much, only to leave empty-handed.

The spirit and fight – especially in the second half – were splendid.

The current champions were genuinely wobbling at times. Every player gave his all and put his body on the line.

I thought we were going to see a preview for Casualty as Alex Tettey went off for an x-ray, Robbie Brady lost two teeth and broke another, Timm Klose hobbled around for several minutes and Gary O’Neil came back on with his impromptu headgear.

If the lads show that same courage and battle for the next 900 minutes, there has to still be hope.

Time is running out though. The stark reality of one point since early January is getting grimmer and grimmer. Being gallant “nearly men” isn’t good enough to survive.

City probably need 15 points – so that’s winning half the remaining 10 games or perhaps four wins and three draws. It’s going to be very tough, make no mistake about it.

St David’s Day may have gone but as City head for the home nation of the patron saint, a victory at Swansea is surely an absolute must.

That would be a foundation to build on and confidence could grow.

Let’s do this. OTBC.

PLEASE DON’T MEDDLE ANY MORE WITH THE FA CUP

Being a Norwich supporter, I am probably losing any right I had to comment on the FA Cup.

Year after year the Canaries slip out in early stages of the competition which I still think should be the greatest domestic cup tournament in football.

So many clubs now field weakened teams as they concentrate on the league or Europe.

TV coverage of the final has been drastically cut back from those halcyon days of the build-up starting at 10am with a special Question of Sport, the club’s cup final songs and a trip on the team bus.

There’s now talk about doing away with FA Cup replays.

I think back to so many good memories of City replays down the years – that Malcolm Allen and blow-up Canary-inspired win over West Ham at Carrow Road in 1989 is probably my favourite.

And my marriage has a link to the Leeds v Arsenal replays back in 1992 (I’ll tell the whole story another week).

The chance of earning a money spinning replay at a big club is a huge incentive for so many smaller teams. It’s so unfair to rob them of that hope.

Yes, there is a lot of football being played – but why not trim down the Champions League rounds and remove some of those Europa League matches?

7 comments

  • HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK.... We've seen it all from Wes etc etc etc. Couldn't agree more. Unplayable in the words of PL. As it transpires in his post match brief it was only because Naismith was injured. 87 touches in 90 mins for Wes, 33 for Naismith in the same role against Leicester. If only AN had intended it. On the subject of PL's ethos.... Just who in the current team "would run through walls" for AN? Deeper problems are there, and this team wouldn't be remotely competitive in the Championship, let alone have any bottle for a fight. That lay in a pivotal player that inspired 110% from those around him... we sold him obviously... BJ.... what was the real reason if not a clash of personalities with AN. PS: People (local Media) are missing the elephant in the room about the Chelsea game: Tettey coming off injured and GON coming on. The difference in organisation and formation was monumental and made the whole team gel.... Tettey sits sooooo deep Howson almost seemed alone in midfield. GON and Howson, however, operate as a box to box unit giving the team a whole new dynamic. If only AN had intended it. It may yet be a blessing in disguise losing Tettey. Sad fact is, great a player as he is, AN's insistence on playing a specialist "sitting" midfielder is negative. Fact. Bournemouth use Surman, hardly defensive. It's a position, not a skill, and that player needs to intercept the ball, not win tackles. Carrick has made a career out of it. Turnover of the ball, that is what that position is all about. And AN has it soooooo wrong and it's cost us. 20 our 28 games we have CONCEDED FIRST. How is that good defensively? We have to score just to get a point, 2 goals to potentially win, in 2028 games! When I suggest to you that 13 games that Tettey has played in we have failed to score at all, chasing one point and a draw seems like a luxury! By contrast, when either Dorrans or GON has played, we have only failed to score 16 games those 2 are involved in... so we should be protecting 3 points if not pushing the odds for a score draw. But no, continue to play Tettey (17 out of those 20), the other 3 being a Mulumbu start, He has a 100% failure record, Final stat for you, based on >20 mins playing time in any given match.... Howson and GON points average of 1.5 per game played together. AN's masterplan of Howson and Tettey? Less than .9 per game. That's obviously 30% more points over a season just by picking the correct partnership in midfield rather than personal favourites and debatably better individuals.... no thanks, it's about partnerships and how the team works. If only AN had intended it....

    Report this comment

    mikeskisandflies

    Friday, March 4, 2016

  • HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK.... We've seen it all from Wes etc etc etc. Couldn't agree more. Unplayable in the words of PL. As it transpires in his post match brief it was only because Naismith was injured. 87 touches in 90 mins for Wes, 33 for Naismith in the same role against Leicester. If only AN had intended it. On the subject of PL's ethos.... Just who in the current team "would run through walls" for AN? Deeper problems are there, and this team wouldn't be remotely competitive in the Championship, let alone have any bottle for a fight. That lay in a pivotal player that inspired 110% from those around him... we sold him obviously... BJ.... what was the real reason if not a clash of personalities with AN. PS: People (local Media) are missing the elephant in the room about the Chelsea game: Tettey coming off injured and GON coming on. The difference in organisation and formation was monumental and made the whole team gel.... Tettey sits sooooo deep Howson almost seemed alone in midfield. GON and Howson, however, operate as a box to box unit giving the team a whole new dynamic. If only AN had intended it. It may yet be a blessing in disguise losing Tettey. Sad fact is, great a player as he is, AN's insistence on playing a specialist "sitting" midfielder is negative. Fact. Bournemouth use Surman, hardly defensive. It's a position, not a skill, and that player needs to intercept the ball, not win tackles. Carrick has made a career out of it. Turnover of the ball, that is what that position is all about. And AN has it soooooo wrong and it's cost us. 20 our 28 games we have CONCEDED FIRST. How is that good defensively? We have to score just to get a point, 2 goals to potentially win, in 2028 games! When I suggest to you that 13 games that Tettey has played in we have failed to score at all, chasing one point and a draw seems like a luxury! By contrast, when either Dorrans or GON has played, we have only failed to score 16 games those 2 are involved in... so we should be protecting 3 points if not pushing the odds for a score draw. But no, continue to play Tettey (17 out of those 20), the other 3 being a Mulumbu start, He has a 100% failure record, Final stat for you, based on >20 mins playing time in any given match.... Howson and GON points average of 1.5 per game played together. AN's masterplan of Howson and Tettey? Less than .9 per game. That's obviously 30% more points over a season just by picking the correct partnership in midfield rather than personal favourites and debatably better individuals.... no thanks, it's about partnerships and how the team works. If only AN had intended it....

    Report this comment

    mikeskisandflies

    Thursday, March 3, 2016

  • We are on a terrible run of form at exactly the wrong time which is becoming an exact replica of our last failure in the PL under Hughton. It is true we showed fire and fight in the last two games. But what about most of the others? That determination, application and belief certainly was not there. Had it been then we may not be in the relegation places. But as many of us have already said, the problems go much deeper, starting with our failure to invest during the summer, followed by constant weekly experimentation with our playing systems. Add to that players being selected out of position and some poor recent substitution timings and decisions and you have the answers to a lot of the questions as to why we have been so poor. AN has by default found himself elevated from managing a small Scottish club to one taking its place in one of the most challenging leagues in the world. Not his fault and he's bound to make mistakes. What appears strange, however, is the way he seems to repeat his mistakes. No I am not calling for AN to be removed. What he needed was a guiding hand from someone more experienced at this level. Too late now, though.

    Report this comment

    malaga flier

    Thursday, March 3, 2016

  • The old adage...'we can't rely on what other teams are doing'...was never more summed up than last night, as I'm sure more than a few of us were relying on Arsenal, being a 'banker' at home against fellow strugglers Swansea and would 'do us a favour'? The fact that it went in Swansea's favour and they picked up a vital 2-1 win and a MASSIVE three points, show's that it's down to my stupid naivety...that I've been hanging onto the fact that, the teams riding high would carry on 'doing us a favour' and that has now come crashing down and Swansea are SIX points ahead of us (we'll have to win two more games just to keep up with them!!!). At the moment we're now fighting for the right to finish fourth from bottom...we simply HAVE to beat Swansea at their place on Saturday...there can be no room for error!!! We have to be in their faces, take the game to them like we did against Chelsea and Leicester and hope Swansea have a little hangover after their magnificent win on Wednesday!!! Oh, what would I give now for a little run of unbeaten games...win Saturday and things will look a little better...I think we've got enough to beat the likes of Sunderland, Newcastle and Watford at home and hopefully pick another win against one of the big boys we've got left to play (who's backsides will also be twitching as well, as they all fight for the title and Champion's League places!!!)...how about an unlikely double over Man United?...One thing for sure...our destiny is in our own hands!!! OTBC

    Report this comment

    YarcoYella

    Thursday, March 3, 2016

  • After our performance against Chelsea, talk of the Board being "happier in the Championship" is just nonsense. Financial considerations dictate that it's every club's aim to get into, and stay in, the Premier League. Insofar as the Board has any influence at all on what happens on the pitch, the evidence on Tuesday night was of a team thoroughly committed to the cause. Only a quite disgraceful linesman's decision cost us a well earned point against one of the best teams in the country.

    Report this comment

    Geolis

    Thursday, March 3, 2016

  • Good article, particularly the sidebar piece about Mr Mason and his mates. It is indeed looking grim from hereon in whatever the ultra-optimists might feel. As a Club, we never learn from our mistakes and that gives some credence to the "conspiracy theories" that the Board are happier in the Championship. The truth is out there...

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Thursday, March 3, 2016

  • Looking like three out of four to go down, seems Bournemouth and Swansea have improved enough to stay up, villa are down, all depends now on whether big Sam can fire up Sunderland enough to keep them up. FA cup is an easy one to sort, offer the winner a place in the champs league.

    Report this comment

    trev57

    Thursday, March 3, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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