Time to forget the hype – Norwich City still have everything to prove
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Be known for waking up at dawn, and you will be able to sleep until noon – that’s roughly how the saying goes. I remember being told it at school and it’s stuck with me since. Mainly because of its pitfalls.
We are still so early into what has been trademarked as ‘The Long Hard Sky Bet Championship’, yet some reputations established inside the opening handful of games are likely to endure until the summer.
And yes, of course that includes Norwich City. In fact for the Canaries, some of the reputation came from before a ball was kicked: The fact most of the squad was kept together from last season’s Premier League relegation, with a lot of those players also coming with past Championship experience – it had all set the expectancy by August 9.
And that, with manager Neil Adams’ philosophy, has in turn led to City’s reputation forged over the opening games. The ball travelled, the goals flowed, the comebacks stirred and the points stacked up.
Come mid-September, there was enough evidence to say Norwich had made a superb start to the season.
And the reputation? Quite simply, City had proven their capabilities. Proven their quality could see them win anywhere and from any situation. They were officially the side to beat; who everyone expected to win the title – some even going on record, saying it would happen at a canter.
Interestingly, another six or so games in and with City’s indifferent results, the initial reputation outside the county has stuck – almost as if some would revel in bringing it up come May if things haven’t gone to plan. And I’m not just talking about Ipswich fans here.
There’s no doubt Norwich can’t continue their current run of results and be successful – but how they go about breaking their cycle is an interesting debate.
The theme from recent pre and post-match press conferences has been reasonably clear from players and management – City aren’t getting the rub of the green at the moment but once they do, their quality will get them back to where they were between August and September.
Having the belief in themselves is one very important building block in getting back to the top flight.
However, those opening handful of games may have set the tone and the standard – but they won’t get Norwich promoted. Nor will they be repeated if City’s players expect that form to simply return at some point if they wait long enough for it.
They’ve been told a lot about how good they are. About all that quality they’ve got. It would be a perfectly understandable human reaction to think that waiting for the tide to turn alone will do the trick.
But these are reputations we’re talking about – such as the current bad luck that included City winning a relatively soft penalty at Fulham they then failed to convert.
Or the fact they just needed to score the first goal in a game to make sure they won a game – only to draw after taking the lead at home to Bournemouth and Leeds.
And those eight games without a first-half goal – it’s been a while since a half-time rocket had the desired effect.
Even having the quality to create 20-odd chances each game – without the quality to take enough of them to out-score the opposition
This isn’t about criticism. It’s about ownership. About ignoring the hype and earning the right to believe you’re the best in the Championship in every game.
No doubt Norwich started to show it early in the season. But we’ve now reached the time where City need to start proving that reputation is justified – and they haven’t started clocking up the lie-ins instead.
• JUST SAYING…
• It’s sad that racist allegations overshadowed Tuesday’s game – although the situation was dealt with well by Mark Clattenburg.
All I would add is that my newfound love of American football includes the men at the side of the pitch, who stand there with special directional microphones able to pick up what all players and officials might say during the game. It makes for great watching and of course, a lot of it isn’t or cannot be broadcast.
Still, such a set up in football here would have certainly made the FA’s investigations this week a little easier.
Mind you, given officials here don’t even get TV replays…
• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey