December 7 2013 Latest news:
Monday, January 7, 2013
On the way to Peterborough on Saturday I have to say I could imagine the possibility of us losing.
No-one was aware that the home side would be that poor – there looked a lot more than a one-division gap between the teams.
But memories of some pretty awful individual performances against MK Dons and one against Scunthorpe in the last 18 months reminded anyone that if we took this tie anything less than 100pc seriously we’d be in trouble.
But you have to say that this was a thoroughly professional performance.
Apart from when the home side forced the ball into the City side netting in the opening minutes we were never under any real pressure.
Take away the novelty value of the occasion and the Canaries’ domination of possession was almost approaching dull at some points.
How best to sum up the afternoon?
• For the most part Tamworth and Paulton gave us more to think about than Peterborough ever did. If we’d played the same sort of front line as we did in somerset the margin of victory could have been that sort of size, too.
• Declan Rudd would have had a far more testing afternoon if he’d played in the Norfolk Senior Cup rather than the FA Cup.
• If someone from Carrow Road had brought along some replay tickets for the Peterborough box office as a precautionary measure they could have started tearing them up the moment that Elliott Bennett put City ahead.
• It was probably the same point that high-profile ITV commentator Jon Champion must have asked himself: “What am I doing here, exactly?”
It might have been “only” Peterborough, but this was a confidence-building display by the Canaries’ much-changed outfit.
A year ago Burnley were taken just as seriously in the third round and City took that comfortable win into the next fixture at West Bromwich – and won.
What I saw on Saturday afternoon makes me think that a victory against Newcastle is now equally achievable.
Confidence will be flowing through home veins a lot more now.
Decent cup results ought to have a positive impact on the season – just see the consequences of beating Tottenham in the Capital One Cup.
This is a season in which we could do with as many additional cup ties as possible, provided they are approached in the right way, ie not a repeat of Leicester last season.
Extra matches in the weeks ahead will give any new signings a chance to bed in and make up for the lack of midweek games and a reserve league to allow fringe players to show what they can do.
The FA Cup doesn’t start clashing with league fixtures until the quarter-finals.
Stoke have reached the quarter-finals for each of the last three seasons and we should have the same sort of outlook.
As a club we should be aiming for more than mediocrity in the bottom third of the Premier League.
And Saturday’s performance at London Road hinted at not being a one-off and that we can hit similar heights in later rounds.
• BACK TO THE 80S IN THE POSH TIME MACHINE
Had Peterborough not played ‘The Last Waltz’ by Englebert Humperdinck – why, exactly? – over the public address system just before kick-off but something a bit more early eighties it would have made the step back in time complete for me.
Yes, for anyone under 30 in the away end behind the goal at London Road, this is what watching football really used to be like.
Someone threw a toilet roll onto the pitch to celebrate a goal and about the only thing that was missing was a row of those invalid cars parked behind one of the goals.
Granted, though, the flare wasn’t exactly an old-school method of celebration.
It really was a throwback to another era. The large number of City fans made it much more of an experience than any of the League One terraces – or maybe it was the same then, but we had just adopted a “We’re not really here” approach to third-flight football.
Now I’m as much in favour of ‘safe standing’ as the next supporter, but an afternoon in Peterborough just reinforces my belief that terraces are not going to return to senior league football any time soon.
And not just because it’s a political hot potato on a par with moving drugs from class A to class B.
If you’re over six feet you didn’t miss much at London Road, but otherwise you’d have struggled to see much.
In an age when football is supposed to be a family sport I imagine that its new ‘core’ audience would soon melt away with no new shiny seats in sight if Saturday’s facilities were to be more commonplace.
The away end must have come as a culture shock to any post-1990 fans of a certain age and income bracket.
For this reason terracing will just not happen again; clubs would shy away from any sustained opposition to its reintroduction.
But despite that I have to say I found standing on the London Road terraces more roomy than sitting in some of the crammed-in seats at places such as Fulham or Everton I’ve been allocated over the years.
The acoustics in an old-style ground made for a much better atmosphere on Saturday than a half-empty Carrow Road had we been drawn at home.
And you like to think that this spurred on the players.
Certainly it wasn’t such a hollow occasion as the hard-ground-out wins against either Scunthorpe and Doncaster.
All in all, it was a fantastic day, although I didn’t hear any Haircut 100 playing over the London Road public address system.
• DRAW IS BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
That’s a real ‘have-your-cake-and-eat-it’ sort of draw then.
We get to rest a few players ahead of the visit of Tottenham and should still have enough about us to get through – providing we aren’t made to struggle in the way we were against Dagenham & Redbridge in the fourth round of 2003.
And we get to avoid Aston Villa for the moment as well.
It’s hard to imagine now that Luton finished within a point of the Canaries just seven seasons ago. And that in August 2006 they came here on the back of wins in their opening two games, raced into a 2-0 lead to spark a visiting chant of “We are unbeatable” and then conceded three goals in 15 minutes to lose 3-2.
Since when it’s been downhill all the way the Hatters, but this will be a massive match for them and interest should be huge. I wonder how many seats the safety advisory group will let them have?
• ALL TO PLAY FOR . . .
City have no wins in four, Newcastle have lost their last three… you get the feeling that if someone is beaten this Saturday they’re going to really start looking over their shoulders.
If we’ve got something to offer up front, and can win, it leaves us needing four victories from 17 games from survival.
Irrespective of what happens in the transfer window, our prospects for the rest of the season look completely different.
Fail against Chris Hughton‘s former side, however, and then lose to Liverpool and Tottenham – which you have to say would be many supporters’ expectations – and we could then go to QPR on February 2 on the back of seven successive defeats.
This would be the post-Christmas slump to end all post-Christmas slumps and would probably see our poor Sky record return as well, just as Harry Redknapp’s January signings were slotting into place.
Well, they always say that bad luck comes in threes.