December 21 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, June 22, 2014
There are ways and means of looking at Norwich City’s fixture list for the new season.
Not sure I like England cricket captain Alastair Cook’s suggestion that the media should be behind his team.
Cook had a pop at anyone who has criticised him on the eve of the Test against Sri Lanka.
“When we lose games of cricket as a captain you get criticised but I’ve also won a lot of games of cricket for England, won more one-day games than anyone as England captain, won an Ashes, won in India away and that’s what I’m proud of as well,” he said.
“So to be criticised for three years, totally, with those results, I find quite hard to take to be honest with you. Support and positivity is what this England team needs.”
It may be what it needs, but to suggest his critics should provide it is a bit rich.
There is a long queue of former captains on the current media circuit, including Michael Vaughan, Mike Atherton, David Gower and Nasser Hussain. What’s the betting Cook joins them one day?
One is to sift through the memory bank of last season, relive all the dross and then suffer the subseqent cerebral consequences.
The other is to look at West Bromwich Albion. I have nothing against the Baggies: as a journalist whose view of a club is often formed on the basis of its pre-match food (thumbs up to Chelsea, thumbs down to Brentford) or the state of the press facilities (thumbs down Carlisle, thumbs up Leicester City), I always liked trips to The Hawthorns. Friendly, decent press box, car park close by: Bob’s your uncle. But have a look at their final five fixtures of the new Premier League season: Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle, Chelsea, Arsenal (home or away, it matters not). It is, of course, a similar set of fixtures that did for the Canaries. I am a great believer of that boring adage that you have to play each team twice, so what does it matter? But I am also a great believer in The Fretting Footballer, who will have immediately looked at the Frightening Final Four and let out a gulp that would have drowned out the Snakepit in full voice.
The point is that City can look at their fixture list and not be quite as frightened as they were a year ago. Yes it’s a different division and maybe you’d all want to be back in the top flight, but City are in the Championship for a reason: they belong there.
Now look at this season’s fixtures and look for the bits where you get the worry beads out. Wolves away for an opening game might have been easier, but come on – Molineux will be full and noisy, but so was Old Trafford, Arsenal, Chelsea, wherever you want to mention, last season. City should not be intimidated.
The first derby comes nice and early but it follows a couple of home games and you’d hope that would have produced results that would settle any nerves and instil some confidence.
Thumbing down the list I don’t see a dodgy run: the reason for that is that Norwich City should not be frightened by the rest of the Championship. I am prepared for this to come back and bite me, but it looks more interesting than intimidating, although a match at Elland Road will be fun, no matter the turmoil they are in.
If there is a downer it’s Fulham at home on the final day. But if that worries you, just go to www.wba.co.uk, look under ‘fixtures’ and scroll down.
More foam, less party
I like the shaving foam walls created by referees at the World Cup to ensure there are no infringements at free-kicks – although it’s only a job half done. Why didn’t they give the spray cans to their assistants as well to ensure throw-ins are taken from the correct place?
But, pretty good move that, which I hope we will see in the domestic game as soon as (yeh, right).
One thing that is rankling, though, is the way referees are allowing players to over-celebrate goals. I have always thought that booking players for taking off their shirts when they have scored is ridiculous and I think the art of celebration is on the wane.
But this World Cup has seen some goal celebration go completely over the top. It’s like River Dance all over again when someone scores and all the subs run out and do a little rehearsed dance affair.