June 18 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Well, shots rained in on goal as home-based footballers tried their level best to come out on top. But that’s enough about the half-time crossbar challenge.
If we were still in the Championship our season would have been over by 5.30pm on Saturday. It’s a rare occasion when you almost wish we were still there.
The weather was dreadful, we kicked off long after everyone else had finished and there was a definite lack of intensity and purpose in the air at Carrow Road on Saturday. It was pretty much a non-event.
At the moment the end of the 2011/12 campaign can’t come soon enough. The ultimate objective has been achieved and that’s that. We didn’t have to wait until Sunday afternoon for mathematical certainty – it’s been obvious ever since beating Wolves.
Other than the win at Tottenham the final six fixtures are turning out to be as hard as could have been expected – but that still doesn’t make the last three weekends any better.
I suppose Manchester City’s visit won’t be forgotten for a result which could yet play a key part in the title race, and Saturday’s goals fall into a similarly memorable category, but much of the actual games themselves? Totally forgettable.
And another thing that is being forgotten is the season up until Easter, when the real work was done.
All right, it doesn’t really matter now that the results aren’t going our way and that the only constant factor of our teams are the endless change and experimentation.
But it would next season.
And with two games left we need a good result to take into 2012/13 rather than what is beginning to seem increasingly likely: a run of five straight defeats.
This is perhaps the last time we can cite circumstances such as previous lack of Premier League experience and looking at where we were a couple of years ago. (Bristol Rovers, for the record.)
By the time we face the likes of Liverpool next season the novelty of us being in the top flight will have gone and it will be all about the grind of getting to 40 points and a particularly future-changing third successive season in the Premier League.
And you’d also like to think we’ll have something of a more settled line-up by then.
Perhaps it was another afternoon of managerial experimentation or making a point in the way that if rumour is to be believed, Nigel Worthington is supposed to have played Ian Henderson and Ryan Jarvis up front in a League Cup defeat at Northampton to prove the paucity of his striking options. But for the first 50 minutes all that Saturday’s game did was make you wonder where next season’s goals are going to come from. At least we posed some threat up front against Manchester City.
Steve Morison perhaps needed support, but definitely service, after things didn’t work out for him at Fulham last month.
Fourteen goals conceded during the course of April wouldn’t be so bad if you could see anything approaching a guaranteed source of goals at the other end. The contrast between the win at Tottenham and Saturday’s defeat was all too obvious.
Liverpool came here only three points ahead of us in the table and with other things on their minds.
But to get anything from the Premier League you have to be at the top of your game from start to finish. That just didn’t happen, and we were punished for it.
QPR’s hammering yesterday ought to keep Aston Villa up now. We need to end the season on a high in a fortnight’s time and be an awful lot more on our game than we were against Liverpool.
I don’t mind losing to high-quality pieces of finishing like Saturday’s when City have given a good account of themselves, but we really just didn’t turn up.
We have to do that against Aston Villa and set a marker for what you are beginning to sense might be a very difficult 2012/13 campaign.
• AWAY FANS DESERVE TO BE REWARDED FOR LOYALTY TO THE CLUB
Fans have been waiting for it for some time, as the current flawed and discredited set-up is causing more problems than it’s worth.
No, not goal-line technology – though that would also be welcome – but a proper points-based loyalty system for away tickets.
The likes of Leeds and Sheffield United have one – so why can’t we? After all, aren’t we “a big club” now, or don’t the club care about to whom tickets are allocated, just so long as they are sold? After all, the disposal of away seats is not going to be much of a money-spinner for the Canaries.
Ahead of what must be our most over-subscribed away game of the season this weekend it’s not exactly going out on a limb to say that our present arrangement just doesn’t work properly.
More than that, it’s extremely easy to abuse, as anyone who noted the silly prices being achieved on eBay for 2010/11 ticket stubs can testify.
Why is a supporter who goes to nine away games in a completely different league to someone who has managed a single additional fixture?
Or if you continually enter ballots, have you got any guarantee that you will be successful in even one?
We haven’t been to a ground with a particularly small away area lately, but we might soon. A cup draw, at Peterborough for example – where the Canaries have played only once in a proper, competitive game – would be hugely over-subscribed. Or what about if we were to have to visit a small ground like Crawley in next season’s Carling Cup, with barely a fortnight to make arrangements?
I’ve always maintained that the support of anyone who went to the likes of Paulton and Carlisle in the FA Cup two seasons ago, or any of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy ties, deserves to be remembered. Fat chance.
Such loyalty of the past can’t be rewarded now, but now is the ideal time to start building a proper database for the future.
After all when you look at this season’s fixtures only Blackburn, Bolton, Newcastle, Sunderland, Swansea, Wigan and West Brom in the FA Cup were on general complete open sale.
With 12 matches that were totally or largely allocated through an application process, the club will – or ought to – have a large enough and reliable record of ticket-buying habits.
There is no reason why that record cannot be backdated to last August so that – in my case – there is a record that I will have gone to 12 away games this season rather than me having to have to go the bother of bringing in my old stubs and someone at Carrow Road having to go to the bother of diligently recording them all and marking them on the reverse.
After all, in a supposedly digital age it’s an arrangement more befitting the 1958/59 FA Cup run.
I’ve filled in 10 application forms for tickets this season, and bought the other two individually over the counter using my customer number so the club have a solid record of my supporting habits.
And before anyone starts mentioning potential abuses of the system – there probably aren’t so many spares knocking around that can be passed on to cheat it.
Time was when stubs were discarded on the ground at away ends, but that just doesn’t happen any more, so people should still have enough tickets in their possession to be able to prove they were at a game in the case of multiple purchases.
Quite frankly, if I’m asked for booking fees next season for more games like this year’s visit to Stoke when it wasn’t really necessary I’d like to think that I get something back – starting to allocate loyalty points against my customer name is a start.
If you made the long trip to Sunderland – in February, for a televised match (and I didn’t, by the way) – you deserve to have such devotion rewarded.
If the club wants to reward fans for their loyalty they can allocate them extra points for such fixture, rather than offer free travel to an away game, which is a hollow gesture for those who can’t or don’t use the official coach service.